The District 3 candidates, in their own words

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In the fast-moving process to replace Greensboro City Councilman Zack Matheny — who represents District 3 until his resignation is official on Tuesday — it can be difficult to keep track of the contenders.

Here is a closer look at everyone we’re aware of that has sent the city a letter of interest and a resume.

Please note that because of the pace of the process, we may be missing someone who contacted the city without our knowledge. We already published brief descriptions of the names in the ring, but here’s what candidates had to say for themselves:

Tim Bryson: Shortly after providing Triad City Beat with a more detailed description of himself, including his service on the planning board and work on Mark Walker’s successful Congressional campaign last year, Bryson withdrew from the process. In an email to the city clerk, he wrote: “Please note that after speaking to a number of parties involved in this process and realizing that a replacement has already been determined, I am too busy in my business to go through the process and spend any more time.”

Tom Phillips: When Matheny ran for Congress last year, a few members of council asked Phillips if he would be willing to fill out the term if Matheny were elected. That discussion restarted this time around, with Matheny and other council members approaching Phillips again. Phillips said he could “hit the ground running” because he has served on council for a total of 12 years, ending in 2007. “It’s not a job I necessarily want, but it’s one I’m willing to do,” he said. “I can do it if they want me to, if not, I’ll go play golf.” Phillips added that he would not run in the fall, which is good because “council shouldn’t appoint someone who is going to run to give them a leg up” or play political favorites.

George Hartzman: Hartzman also told TCB he would be a placeholder. He did not provide additional information about why he wants the seat, but did send an email to city staff and the other contenders today saying that three councilmembers should recuse themselves from the vote because they would be in the redrawn district (if Trudy Wade’s redistricting plan passes) and would essentially be choosing their own competition. He also said public comment on the candidates at the Tuesday council meeting shouldn’t be limited to those supported by a council member, but open to any citizen.

Justin Outling: Outling — who described himself as a father, someone who helps businesses solve complex problems and an engaged citizen — will run in the fall. He has already filed initial paperwork, and would either be running in District 3 or a newly created District 7 that snakes through downtown. Outling said he would bring a “pragmatic, driven approach” and an “ability to identify a problem, think analytically, and bring practical solutions.” He has worked as an attorney on Wall Street and Elm Street, he said, experience that would benefit the residents of the district. Outling said he doesn’t want to get too granular yet on specific issues, but said he supports investment in things like downtown, the airport and infrastructure that will help attract and retain businesses.

Michael Picarelli: Running for council has always been in the back of Picarelli’s mind, but he didn’t seriously consider it while Matheny was in office, he said. He encouraged council to pick someone that reflects the way District 3 residents have voted in the past, and based on personal reasons. Picarelli, who chaired the Guilford County GOP, said he doesn’t wear his politics on his sleeve and that council isn’t about partisan politics. He also intends to run for council in the fall. Picarelli said he would continue Matheny’s focus on economic development, sometimes taking unpopular decisions that will benefit the city long term, mentioning support for the downtown performing arts center. The city needs to close the gap on food deserts and find people willing to invest in east Greensboro, he said, but downtown needs to be the city’s “shining jewel.” He said he would govern with the entire city in mind, describing his approach as a view from 10,000 feet.

UPDATE (Monday, 9:30 a.m.): Anita Bachmann, a senior vice president at Optum (a division of UnitedHealth Group), filed for the position over the weekend, according to the city clerk. Bachmann was also the volunteer campaign coordinator for the unsuccessful 1/4-cent for schools bond item last fall.

Triad City Beat has heard rumors of other people interested in the post, but as of 11 a.m. today, the city clerk said nobody else has turned in paperwork. (If you are a contender and aren’t listed, please let us know.)