The Nov. 2, 2021 City Council election is now a definite maybe.

The Greensboro City Council has no lack of indecision, and while, on May 11, holding the City Council election on Nov. 2, 2021 appeared to have nine votes, at the “hybrid” City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 18, holding the election as scheduled on Nov. 2, 2021 had zero votes.

There was no change in the Census data or the law between May 11 and May 18, but what did happen is that the Greensboro Chapter of the NAACP came out against holding the election in 2021, and evidently that was enough to change nine votes.

After the City Council voted unanimously on May 18 to delay any decision on when to hold the election, NAACP President Rev. Bradley Hunt spoke to the City Council and said that since there was a possibility that the Census data would show that Greensboro required redistricting, the election should be delayed until after the Census data was released and the City Council could be certain that the districts were in compliance. 

Gary Kenton also read a letter from the League of Women Voters in favor of delaying the election until after the Census data is released and redistricting, if necessary, could take place.

It is expected that the Census data will be released in late September, which completely rules out any chance of redistricting before a Nov. 2, 2021 election.  But it would also create a real problem for the City Council if it decides to postpone the election to March 2022, the same time as the primary for the 2022 statewide election.  Greensboro City Attorney Chuck Watts informed the City Council on May 11 that there is barely enough time to redistrict and meet the filing deadlines in time for a March election.   

The saving grace here is that the City Council has no authority to postpone its own election.  What the City Council could do – if it should ever reach a decision on how to proceed – is ask the North Carolina General Assembly to pass a bill delaying the election until March or November 2022.

And for Greensboro to get such a bill passed by the legislature is a long shot.  The City Council has not been shy about condemning the actions of the Republican majority in Raleigh, which makes getting favors done by the same Republican majority difficult.

Even for this City Council, with its well deserved reputation for indecision, the turn around on this issue was stunning.

On May 11, Councilmember Tammi Thurm said, “I personally feel like I was elected for a four-year term.”

She added, “Without knowing or having a really strong indication that we are out of balance, we need to go forward.”

Thurm also said that delaying the election until 2022 would be “doing a disservice to the people of Greensboro and those considering running.”

At the May 18 meeting, Thurm made the motion to delay any decision until the next meeting, which is June 1.

Mayor Nancy Vaughan, on May 11, when there was no objection to holding the election as scheduled, asked that the resolution setting the election for Nov. 2, 2021 be placed on the agenda for the May 18 meeting.

At the May 18 meeting, where Vaughan participated virtually, she threw another variable at the City Council.  She said, “The NAACP brought up the issue of who would do the redistricting.”

Vaughan said, “It needs to be an independent commission.  It needs to be independent.”

 And Councilmember Sharon Hightower suggested that the election be delayed for an entire year.

So it’s pretty clear from the City Council indecision that the City Council election will either be held in November 2021, March 2022 or November 2022, and if redistricting is required it will either be done by the City Council or by an independent commission.