Featured photo: North Ward hopeful Eunice Campbell speaks to voters at Reynolda Manor Branch Library on Tuesday night.

A 3 to 5 vote.

That’s what Bishop Todd Fulton with the Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity says changed his mind about Winston-Salem’s mayor pro tempore and longtime city leader Denise D. Adams.

Tensions were high last summer as the city council struggled to agree on a new city manager following the departure of Lee Garrity in June.

Finally, in July, former Manassas, Va. city manager Pat Pate was chosen over Assistant City Managers Patrice Toney, a Black woman, and Ben Rowe, a white man.

Four out of Winston-Salem’s eight councilmembers are Black, and three of them cast votes to select Toney, who has worked for the city and county for more than 25 years.

Adams had the opportunity to promote a “qualified, Black female,” Fulton told TCB during a campaign event on Tuesday for Eunice Campbell, Adams’ primary opponent for the North ward. “My question to Ms. Adams would be, what did you see differently that the other three African-American Democrats didn’t see?

“The community saw an opportunity to make history, and what she did, in my opinion, is shatter the vision of young African-American females to have a dream that one day they can be at the top leadership tier in government,” Fulton added.

Campbell is one of three candidates running for the North Ward seat including incumbent Adams and Kymberli Rene Wellman. Campbell’s and Wellman’s campaigns have not received any donations, while Adams’ has received $11,557.

Campbell, who spoke during Tuesday’s event, has worked in corporate America for companies like PepsiCo and American Express. This is Campbell’s second attempt to overtake the North Ward seat, after she garnered nearly 25 percent of the vote in the 2020 primary election. 

During TCB’s Winston-Salem city council candidate forum earlier this month, Campbell stated the need for the city to spend more money on housing and advocated for a “comprehensive plan” for dealing with flooding that occurs in the area. 

Another attendee during Tuesday’s event who expressed their support for Campbell is NC Police Benevolent Association President David Rose, who said that he’s supporting the candidate because of her support for a civil service board, which state legislators signed into law last year. It will institute a board for fired or demoted police and fire workers so they can request a hearing and go before the five-member board to plead their case.

A statement from the NCPBA following the decision reads: “Far too often, decisions made in a matter of seconds to protect themselves and the public are hastily tried not only by public opinion but also within their own department without all of the facts provided,” the statement read. In January, WSPD officers shot and killed two people.

In October, councilmembers on the public safety committee — of which Adams is not a member — were briefed on the city’s future civil service board, which City Attorney Angela Carmon said will go into effect on July 1. The matter has not been discussed since.

Rose wants increased pay for other staff members within the police department like 911 dispatchers. Campbell agrees.

“If you want a great city, you have to have a great police force and that includes everyone who works in that department,” Campbell said.

Campbell is also a member of local activism group the Coalition for Accountability and Transparency, running alongside Carolyn Highsmith, who is seeking office in the South Ward, and Phil Carter, who is running for the East Ward seat.

Campbell hopes that with the support of Highsmith and Carter, the “dream team,” she’ll be among people she knows how to “disagree with but yet still come to a good decision with.”

“We’re not clones, we have differences of opinion but we know how to communicate.”
As for how she’d work together with the council as a whole, Campbell doesn’t appear to be fazed, and says that she agrees with several councilmembers at times.

“When you work for corporate America, you learn how to work with people, period,” she said, adding, “You still have to keep an eye on the objectives and not be personal.”

Adams did not respond to TCB’s request for comment.

Read more about Campbell and Adams in our primary guide here.

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