The two candidates
for the Southwest Ward seat on Winston-Salem City Council are both
social-justice oriented, but some of their policy priorities differ.

Scott Andree-Bowen and Kevin Mundy,
the two candidates for the Southwest Ward seat on Winston-Salem City Council,
met for coffee for the first time on Wednesday, after chatting on social media
for a couple weeks.

“We’re not politicians; we’re not
going to slander each other,” Andree-Bowen said. “He’s a good guy; I’m a good
guy.”

The two candidates are vying to
replace fellow Democrat Dan Besse, who is retiring from city council after 19
years to run for state House. A social justice-minded Democrat, Besse was
sometimes the only white member of city council who voted with black colleagues
on council — often as not his reasoning was that he wanted to avoid votes split
along racial lines.

The two candidates in the March 3
Democratic primary have a lot in common with each other, and with the city
council representative they’re seeking to replace. Both Mundy and Andree-Bowen are
white men who prioritize compassion in their approach to local governance, and
Mundy joked that no matter who wins the primary, the winner will be a
Methodist. Mundy serves as the director of the Green Street United Methodist
Church choir. Andree-Bowen is the director of youth and food-pantry ministries
at a local church; he isn’t publicizing the name of the church, which he said
prefers to stay out of politics.

The 57-year-old Mundy has extensive
experience in nonprofit and corporate management, and currently serves as
program and alumni coordinator for Leadership Winston-Salem. Mundy previously
served as community relations director for Sara Lee Apparel (now Hanesbrands),
where he organized the Crosby National Celebrity Golf Tournament, which raised
money for the Crosby Scholars program, which prepares middle and high school
students in Forsyth County for college. More recently, he led the Sawtooth
School for Visual Art as executive director.

Mundy said he first thought about
seeking a seat on city council two years ago, when Besse made his first bid for
state House. Mundy added that he didn’t realize Besse didn’t have to give up
his seat that year, because the state House and city council election calendars
were not aligned.

“I thought if I had the opportunity
to run for city council, I would go for it,” Mundy said. “This is not a
stepping-stone for higher office for me.”

Andree-Bowen, who is 41, previously
taught 8th grade history at Philo-Hill Magnet Academy and pastored a
church. He said doing the two jobs simultaneously “led to some hard burnout.” As
a teacher, Andree-Bowen said he learned that some of his students are both the
perpetrators and victims of violent crime, and he came to see crime as closely
linked to poverty.

While directing the food pantry at
another church, Andree-Bowen accepted appointment to the Winston-Salem Urban
Food Policy Council and started volunteering with the Think Orange campaign, a
local initiative to fight hunger. As a member of the Think Orange campaign,
Andree-Bowen said he drafted a policy implemented by Winston-Salem/Forsyth
County Schools to move breakfast into the classroom in high-poverty schools to
ensure that children are getting fed at the beginning of the day.

When he learned that Besse was
planning to run for state House again, Andree-Bowen said, “With what I’ve been
doing, I felt like I know enough to step in and fight for those people.”

Map of the Southwest Ward. (courtesy Forsyth County Board of Elections)

The Southwest Ward stretches west
from Peters Creek Parkway through Ardmore and other neighborhoods bracketed
between Business 40 and Interstate 40, and then balloons out into suburban
areas that nearly reach Clemmons. The middle-class ward includes two hospitals
(the top two employers in the county), Hanes Mall, and a vibrant retail
corridor along Stratford Road.

Both Andree-Bowen and Mundy envision
themselves as representatives of not just the ward, but the entire city.

Addressing what he called “food
apartheid” in the city, Andree-Bowen said he wants to find a way to reopen the
Liberty Street Market, which is located in the Northeast Ward, and also attract
grocery stores to that part of the city.

“What’s good for the Northeast Ward
in my opinion should also be good for the Southwest Ward,” he said. “If people
there are starting to grow their wealth, the dollars are going to come here to
the Southwest Ward because we’re a retail business ward.”

Mundy expressed a similar view that
“everything ties back.”

“If we have a literacy problem at
third grade, it doesn’t matter if it’s the Southwest, West or East Ward,” he
said. “We’re going to pay the consequences for it in the whole city.”

Both candidates said they would like
to decentralize police operations.

Mundy said he would like to see the
city “build more substations,” while Andree-Bowen said wants to see the
department add “precinct houses” so that officers are more directly tied to
local areas. And both said they would look closely at salaries to ensure that
officers receive adequate pay commensurate with the difficulties of the job.

Comments during their interviews
with Triad City Beat provided a
window into how the two candidates would work with the police.

Mundy said he had recently met with
the Police Benevolent Association, and touted his business experience as an
asset in figuring out how to pay for additional resources.

“There’s something they’re trying to get, and the city is resisting,” Mundy said. “If they implemented it, there would be some cost savings. That’s an example of how my familiarity with a [profit and loss] statement can help.”

Andree-Bowen said city leaders need
to work to improve the relationship between the police and residents. To
accomplish that, the candidate said he would make the Citizen’s Police Review Board
“more visible and have more power.”

“Our minority community has fear
because of the things that have gone on across the country,” Andree-Bowen said.
“Enhancing the board would bring accountability. It protects the public, and
protects the police.”

Both candidates are concerned about
the loss of affordable housing, citing plans by a private developer to
redevelop the Ardmore Terrace Apartments and Cloverdale Apartments, and
increase rents. But they highlighted different solutions.

Citing the high demand for real
estate in downtown, Mundy said the city has some leverage to require developers
to set aside affordable units in exchange for access to financing at favorable
interest rates.

Andree-Bowen said he is a fan of the
Shalom Project, a nonprofit that is developing affordable housing on Peters
Creek Parkway.

“If we can find a way to partner
with these agencies, we can help them build houses, apartment complexes and
tiny houses,” Andree-Bowen said. He added that he has “more of a nonprofit
mindset.”

Unique among candidates for city
council during this election, Andree-Bowen is emphasizing a goal to “make
Winston-Salem a leader in the fight on climate change.”

“I want to start with all the
municipal buildings,” he said. “We can put solar panels on top of our
recreation centers. We don’t have to do it all at once. We could do a pilot
project with one, show the benefits, and then move on to the next one.”

One of Mundy’s signature issues is
investing in the arts to promote economic development.

He said he wants the city to
“benchmark” against Greensboro, its neighbor to the east, adding that he
suspects that Winston-Salem allocates a smaller portion of its annual budget to
the arts. He also said Winston-Salem should consider a policy adopted in
Albuquerque, NM to require developers to set aside a percentage of funds for
public art.

“We as a city have to pay up,” he
said. “We don’t have a performing arts center. You’ve got the Tanger Center [in
Greensboro]. There’s DPAC in Durham, Blumenthal [Performing Arts Center] in
Charlotte. All we’ve got is the Stevens Center. That’s owned by the University
of North Carolina, and its main function is for student performances. We as a
city have missed the mark.”

Mundy noted that, if elected, he
would be the first openly gay member of city council. While the current city
council is friendly towards LGBTQ+ rights, Mundy said it hasn’t always been
that way, recalling that in the mid-1990s the council considered a resolution
to “uphold family values of marriage as a union between one man and one woman.”

It’s important to have leadership
from an array of backgrounds, he said, adding that human relations is not just
about race.

“I’m adding to the tapestry,” he
said.

But Mundy’s primary pitch to voters is
that his social-justice values are balanced with analytical skills honed in the
business world.

“I lead with my heart, and follow
that up by looking at the facts,” he said.

It’s a distinction that doesn’t
bother Andree-Bowen.

“Kevin has done a lot in more of a
management role,” he said. “He’s more rooted in nonprofit and for-profit
management. I’ve been more working down in the streets with the people.”

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