Featured photo: Nancy Vaughan celebrates on Election Night after unofficial results showed that she re-won her seat for Greensboro mayor. (photo by Carolyn de Berry)
Four hundred and twenty five. That’s how many votes made the difference for Nancy Vaughan to win the Greensboro mayoral race once again. On Tuesday evening, Vaughan, who has been mayor since 2013, won re-election for her seat until the next race in 2025.
“I feel relieved,” Vaughan told Triad City Beat outside of Next Door Beer Bar and Bottle Shop where she watched the results come in with friends and family. “It was obviously a lot closer than I would have preferred.”
Vaughan, who is a Democrat, ran a tight race against District 3 city council member Justin Outling, who is also a Democrat and has been on council since 2015. In the end, Vaughan won with 43 percent or 13,932 votes compared to Outling’s 41.7 percent or 13,507 votes. About 15.2 percent went to a write-in candidate who is unnamed but was likely Chris Meadows, a Republican who began campaigning in the last few months. Overall voter turnout was 16.17 percent, up from 14.8 percent in 2017.
(UPDATED 7/27/2022, 10:30 a.m.) In a statement on Wednesday, Outling’s campaign manager Chelsea Boccardo told TCB that the campaign is waiting for the outstanding mail-in and provisional ballots to be counted.
“One thing is clear from the results,” the statement reads. “Greensboro wants change, beyond the status quo…. Considering there are an unknown number of mail-in votes (absentee and service members) collected through Friday, and a margin of 1.3 percent between the top mayoral candidates, we are patiently waiting for more information from the Board of Elections.”
In order to win, Outling would have to win at least 426 of the mail-in and provisional votes. After those are counted and there is a less than 1 percent margin between he and Vaughan, then there will be a recount.
On Wednesday morning, Guilford County Board of Elections Director Charlie Colicutt told TCB that as of 10:30 a.m., there were 34 additional provisional and 17 absentee ballots that have been counted since Tuesday evening. The board will continue to count both provisional and absentee ballots that were postmarked by Tuesday and are received by the office by Friday. For more details on that process, read our piece here.
While Outling and Vaughan have had fairly similar platforms and voting records over the course of the last few years, Vaughan’s name recognition may have helped pull her across the finish line. In every other council race on Tuesday evening, the incumbent won. That, Vaughan said, means something.
“I think that shows that we had a strong message,” Vaughan said.
During her time as mayor, Vaughan has had a number of high-profile economic accomplishments including the building of the Tanger Center as well as the recruitment of large companies like Toyota, Boom Supersonic and Publix to the city. While supporters point to her successful business deals, critics pointed to her response to the Marcus Smith case as well as her handling of protests during the summer of 2020 as reasons for change.
Over the course of the last year, Outling built a strong campaign against Vaughan, citing change and a need to have fresh mayoral leadership. He also pointed to the fact that the majority of voters who showed up for the primary election in May, voted for someone new.
“The reality is for everyone who ran in the primary, they all introduced themselves to voters,” Outling told TCB in the past. “Most people know Nancy Vaughan. But the majority of people voted for change.”
In the May primary, Vaughan won 45 percent of the vote to Outling’s 35.3 percent.
When asked what she looks forward to now that she was won another term as mayor, Vaughan said she’s excited that the bonds passed and that there are more big announcements coming up.
“We’re going to focus on getting the bond referendum implemented,” Vaughan said. “We really need to focus a majority of our energy on affordable, attainable housing and that’s more than just rent subsidies, it’s all the way up to workforce development.”
When it comes to how tight the race was, Vaughan argued that it was due to Outling’s aggressive campaign tactics including mailings that were “negative.”
“My opponent was very comfortable asking people for money,” she said. “So he was able to do some mailings that I think were negative and untrue, but maybe did have an impact on people that received it.”
One of those mailings may have been the ones that Outling sent out that noted that Greensboro was ranked as the state’s most dangerous city. TCB reported before that the data was misleading.
Outling, who works for Brooks Pierce law firm, had far outraised any other mayoral candidate with $144,992 cash on hand by the end of 2021.
All five bonds passed by voters
In addition to big wins for incumbents, five new bonds were passed with overwhelming support by voters on Tuesday.
The housing bond that Vaughan mentioned was passed with 67.5 percent of voters voting in favor of the bond. The initiative, which was for a total of $30 million, is to increase affordable housing units in the city and also use dollars to invest in neighborhoods for lower- and middle-income families and help families buy homes. The proposed breakdown of the $30 million is as follows: $20 million for affordable housing, $5 million for access to homeownership and $5 million for neighborhood investment.
The parks and recreation bond also passed, with 66.6 percent voting in favor. The proposed $70 million would go to creating the Windsor-Chavis-Nocho Joint Use Facility which would be one large facility that acts as a library, recreation center, pool and meeting center for the Nocho Park area off Gate City Boulevard; $20 million would be used to expand the Greensboro Science Center to include a rainforest biodome and an ocean lab that would help conservation and research efforts.
The firefighting facilities bond, which was for $14 million, passed with the most support at 76 percent. The money is set to be used to improve and renovate four Greensboro fire stations including: Station #40 on Pisgah Church Rd., Station #8 on Coliseum Blvd., Station #10 on Gate City Blvd. and Station #14 on Summit Ave.
The law enforcement bond also passed with 65.5 percent approval. The $6 million bond would be used to improve, secure and maintain law enforcement facilities throughout the city including $3 million to renovate the fourth floor of the police headquarters and $3 million for the Greensboro Police Department Records Management System.
Lastly, the transportation bond which totals $15 million passed with 69.2 percent of voters in favor and would be used to add and improve sidewalks, streets and other transportation infrastructure including public transportation. A number of sidewalks and greenways including ones on Vandalia Rd., 16th Street, Yanceyville Street and Battleground Avenue south of Westridge Road would be improved. The roads at Pisgah Church intersections at Elm Street, Lawndale Drive and Martinsville Drive would also be improved. Lastly, more bus shelters would be installed, old buses would be replaced and the bus depot would be improved.
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