Featured photo: Democrats Frankie T. Jones, Anthony Izzard and Lisa McMillan
Three Democrats and two Republicans are hoping to make it to the November general election after vying for votes in this year’s Guilford County Commission primaries.
The Guilford County Board of Commissioners is comprised of nine total seats, including a chairperson and vice chair who are chosen every December to serve the upcoming year. Commissioners are responsible for adopting the annual county budget and establishing the property tax rate as well as adopting local laws. During the pandemic, the county commissioners also acted as the county Board of Health to pass mask mandates countywide.
Commissioners serve staggered four-year terms and are elected by district and at-large on even numbered years.
This year, seats for at-large, District 2, District 3 and District 7 are up for grabs. In District 7, incumbent Frankie T. Jones will face fellow Democrats Anthony Izzard and Lisa McMillan in the primary while Republicans Karen Coble Albright and Kenny Abbe will face off in their race.
District 7 covers the multicultural southeastern suburbs of the city then runs along the eastern side of Greensboro, hooking sightly to the west before the lakes.
Candidates are listed alphabetically by last name. Incumbents are listed first.
Early voting for the primaries begins April 27. Primary election day is on May 17.
Frankie T. Jones (i)
New incumbent with varied business and government experience
Incumbent Frankie T. Jones was first appointed to the District 7 seat after longtime incumbent Carolyn Coleman, who had held the seat since 2005, passed away in late January at the age of 79.
“When Commissioner Carolyn Coleman passed, I was contacted by several people encouraging me to seek the interim appointment,” Jones said. “Though I previously had been asked to run for office, I decided to seek the position because the county’s responsibilities align with my passion….”
Jones was a member of the advisory committee for the 2020/21 Greensboro/Guilford County Financial Capacity Study and is currently on Greensboro’s ABC Board. He has also served as the chair on the Guilford County Planning Board, the Greensboro Board of Adjustment, the Greensboro Planning and Zoning Commission and the Piedmont Triad Regional Water Authority. Jones currently works at the vice president in the investments department at Lincoln Financial and is also a licensed attorney with 14 years of experience.
Jones’s has served three terms on the executive committee of the Greensboro Branch of the NAACP, is a member of the Triad Goodwill Board of Directors, co-chair of leadership giving for the United Way of Greater Greensboro and member of the Gateway Research Park Board of Directors.
While this is his first time holding public elected office, Jones said he wants to continue working as a county commissioner to focus on affordable housing, economic development, public health and school infrastructure.
As an attorney Jones said he has experience that helps him advocate for the people he represents. As a businessman, he said has “firsthand insight into the power of strong partnerships and smart investments to break down barriers and improve communities.”
If re-elected he said he would focus on continuing strategic partnerships with local health providers, diverting people from non-emergency visits to local ERs, creating more affordable housing and attracting high-paying jobs to the county.
As a supporter of public schools, Jones said he supports the $1.7 billion bond referendum that’s on the ballot this May.
“The bond is needed to address the crumbling infrastructure in many of our schools,” he said. “The school bond referendum will allow for the construction of three new schools, the rebuilding of 18 schools, the full renovation of 13 schools, safety and technology upgrades for all schools, and major repairs. The bond referendum is not simply about buildings, it is about making sure our students are learning in environments that are safe and conducive to receiving a quality education.”
He also told Triad City Beat that he supports the sales-tax increase to help pay for the bond. He noted that the “tax increase specifically excludes groceries, gas and prescription medicines” and that the “county commissioners recently passed a resolution where we agreed to decrease the property tax rate should the sales tax increase pass.”
On the topic of public safety and police reform, Jones said that there needs to be more focus on both prevention and enforcement.
“For example, our county needs to strengthen support for supplementing traditional law enforcement positions with mental-health personnel both in the community and inside of our detention centers,” he said.
He also said he supports community policing and focusing on recruiting, training and retaining quality officers.
Looking forward, Jones said that this current moment is significant for Guilford County.
“We are experiencing renewed energy around economic development with several big announcements over the last few months,” he said. “These announcements will lead to significant opportunities that will allow us to attract and retain a highly paid workforce. We must also make certain that we help the most vulnerable persons in our community and provide opportunities to succeed.”
Community advocate with ties to southeast Greensboro
While this is Anthony Izzard’s first time running for political office, he said that his work experience will help him to lead Guilford County. Izzard has worked as a Fatherhood Coordinator for various organizations around Guilford County for more than a decade. In his work, he works with fathers and families on workforce trainings, mental-health trainings and more. He has volunteered with the Guilford County Parks and Recreation Commission, Greensboro Parks and Recreation Commission, the NAACP, the Southside Reunion Executive Committee and the Greensboro Human Rights Commission. He has also worked within Guilford County Schools as a football coach and a behavior specialist in the past.
Izzard, who grew up in southeast Greensboro, said that creating equal opportunities and equal outcomes for everybody in Guilford County is his top priority.
“District 7 has two of the most socioeconomically challenged zip codes and was highly disrupted from COVID-19, he said. “We need more opportunities to combat the issues. It’s time to advocate for better in our communities.”
In order to do that, Izzard advocated for spending more money on community programs and trainings that help disadvantaged communities.
He told TCB that he supports the $1.7 billion school-bond referendum provided that there is oversight to “eliminate wasting spending and make sure construction projects are fulfilled.”
“My slogan ‘From the Community, For the Community,’ is something I stand by because I can’t stress enough we need to advocate for change and get change,” he said.
Bus driver advocating for livable wages for school employees
While TCB did not hear back from Lisa McMillan in time for this article, her campaign website states that she is running for county commission to advocate for accountability, safe and secure schools and effective county government. Her website lists that McMillan has worked as a city and school bus driver and has held leadership roles with Guilford County PTA and Guilford Child Development Policy Council. As part of Greensboro Transit Authority, she has served on several committees and currently serves as the Marketing Committee Chair.
Recently, McMillan was named the NC Transit Advocate of the Year.
As a school bus driver, McMillan advocate for all drivers being “paid as professionals and offered permanent, full-time employment” on her campaign website. She also advocates for education professionals being paid a livable wage.
“Teachers should be paid a competitive salary and not need a second or third job to make ends meet,” she states.
In terms of transparency, she states that she supports following school funding to make sure funds are properly spent and that citizens should get incremental progress reports.
McMillan also founded the Jeff and Jess Child Development Center, the first around-the-clock childcare center in Greensboro, because she couldn’t find affordable childcare in the city.
“As a mother of two 25 years ago, I faced this problem as a manager of McDonald’s with a fluctuating schedule,” she posted on her Facebook on April 16. “I earned a good salary but could not find affordable childcare for Jefferey and Jessica.”
McMillan also posted that she supports creative solutions to homelessness including tiny house communities.
“My experience being homeless at 17 helps me better understand the helpless and hopeless feelings when you don’t know what to do or where to go,” she posted.
Karen Coble Albright
Conservative using national rhetoric as part of local run
This is Karen Coble Albright’s second time running for office. In 2020, she unsuccessfully ran for soil and water commission and lost to Antoinette Weaver. Albright currently works as a paralegal.
This time around, she said she decided to run because she didn’t think any Republicans were going to run in the District 7 race.
During a March 15 candidate forum at Kickback Jack’s, she said supporting the police department, veterans and voter integrity are her top priorities.
She also mentioned that “history should be preserved” and that “schools are in trouble right now.”
While she didn’t share specific policies or strategies as part of her platform, Albright did spout popular Republican tangents such as fearmongering about “illegal people coming over the borders” and making sure to bolster the Republican party so that “Democrats don’t destroy our country.”
TCB did not hear back from Kenny Abbe for this piece and could not find information about this candidate online. According to his candidate filing, Abbe lives in Greensboro.
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