With filing for the City Council elections closing on Friday, July 21 at noon, the mayor’s race is shaping up to be something a little different.
Mayor Nancy Vaughan filed to run for reelection this week, and as of Wednesday, July 19, she will be facing two newcomers. Not simply newcomers to politics but newcomers to Greensboro.
Diane Moffett, the pastor at St. James Presbyterian Church at 820 Ross Ave. in Greensboro, filed to run on Tuesday, July 17, but up until Tuesday, July 17, Moffett was registered to vote under the name Diane Givens Moffett in Jamestown, where she had been registered to vote since 2005, with Givens Moffett as a non-hyphenated double last name. She is now registered to vote as Diane Lenore Moffett. So we have someone who registered to vote from a Greensboro address and filed to run for mayor on the same day. Moffett is now registered to vote from the Hampshire Condominiums at 1101 N. Elm St. However, Diane Moffett’s husband, Mondre Moffett, is still registered to vote from their home at 103 Castleton Pl., Jamestown, the address that Diane Moffett listed as her residence on her voter registration form until July 17.
It certainly appears that it is not improper for Diane Moffett to be registered to vote from an apartment in Greensboro and run for mayor, but the question that will be answered during the election is whether or not the people of Greensboro want to elect a mayor who has a legal address in Greensboro but may not actually live in Greensboro.
John Brown, the lone Republican in the nonpartisan mayor’s race, filed on July 7 and had announced his intention to run months earlier. Brown is not as much a newcomer to Greensboro as Moffett, but still a relative newcomer. He registered to vote in Greensboro in 2015. Brown voted in Randolph County from 2000 to November 2014. The first election Brown voted in Greensboro was the municipal primary in October 2015. Brown voted in the Republican primary in the 2002 election, the Democratic primary in the 2008 election, nonpartisan in the 2012 primary and Republican in the two 2016 primaries.
Both Brown and Moffett have worked in Greensboro for years but were not registered to vote in Greensboro.
Vaughan registered to vote in Guilford County in 1988 and voted in her first municipal election in 1991. In 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006, Vaughan voted in the Republican primaries. In 2008, she voted in the Democratic primaries and in 2010 the Republican primary. Since 2012, Vaughan has voted in the Democratic primaries and is currently a registered Democrat.
Greensboro voters, along with other considerations, will have to decide whether they want to elect a long time Greensboro resident who has served on the City Council for a total of 12 years or a newcomer to Greensboro and politics. Brown has voted in one Greensboro municipal election and Moffett has voted in none.
City Council elections are nonpartisan, which means there is no party affiliation on the ballot and primaries are held if more than two file for mayor or a district race, and if more than six file for the three at-large seats.
The City Council at-large election always confuses people because it is confusing. With nine candidates having already filed, there will be an Oct. 10 primary in the at-large race and the top six candidates will move on to the general election. In the general election on Nov. 7, the top three candidates will be elected to the City Council. So this is a race that, in the primary, if you finish sixth or higher you win, and in the general election if you finish third or higher you win.
All three at-large incumbents, City Councilmembers Yvonne Johnson, Marikay Abuzuaiter and Mike Barber, have filed to run for reelection. Johnson has won every at-large race she has run since 1993, so she appears to be a pretty safe bet. Johnson finished first in 2015 in the at-large race, Abuzuaiter second and Barber third.
Joining the three incumbents are M.A. Bakie, Jodi Bennett-Bradshaw, Tijuana Hayes, Andy Nelson, Dave Wils and Sylvine Hill. There will likely be more at-large candidates who file before Friday at noon, so it could be a crowded field.
In District 1, Councilmember Sharon Hightower is running for reelection and Paula Ritter-Lipscomb is the only candidate so far who has filed to run against her. Hightower is running for her third term.
Since District 2 City Councilmember Jamal Fox resigned on Tuesday night and won’t be running for reelection, that open seat has attracted a lot of attention.
Former District 2 City Councilmember Jim Kee has filed to win his old seat back. Fox defeated Kee in 2013 when Kee was running as the incumbent. In Greensboro, it’s generally difficult to defeat an incumbent on the City Council.
Also filing to run for the District 2 seat are Tim Vincent, C.J. Brinson and Felecia Angus.
Tuesday night, the City Council appointed former District 2 Councilmember Goldie Wells to serve out Fox’s term. As of Wednesday, Wells had not filed to run for District 2 but there are rumors that she may.
In District 3, Councilmember Justin Outling is the only candidate who has filed to run. Outling is the first Democrat and the first black elected to represent District 3. He is popular in the district and would be a tough candidate to beat.
District 4 City Councilmember Nancy Hoffmann has filed to run for reelection and is being challenged by Gary Kenton. Hoffmann, who is a Democrat, defeated Republican Mary Rakestraw in 2011 and now Hoffmann is being challenged from the left. Hoffmann always raises a lot of money and runs a well-organized and efficient campaign. Unless someone else files before noon Friday, there will be no primary in the District 4 race.
District 5 Councilmember Tony Wilkins is the lone Republican on the City Council and so far three other candidates have filed to run against him. Tammi Thurm is a Democrat who got her campaign started early and held a fundraiser before she filed. Tanner Lucas filed to run last week as did Sal Leone, who is a perennial candidate. Leone ran for mayor in 2015 and was eliminated in the primary with 5 percent of the vote.
So far it looks like there will be primaries for mayor, at large, District 2 and District 5.
This election will be the first in which city councilmembers are elected for four years. So the next City Council election won’t be until 2021.