The new Greensboro City Council was sworn in on Thursday, Aug. 11 with only one change from the previous City Council.
District 3 City Councilmember Zack Matheny replaced former District 3 City Councilmember Justin Outling, who was narrowly defeated in the mayor’s race by incumbent Mayor Nancy Vaughan.
But when the City Council took their seats for the current term there was another change that may not have been apparent to those who don’t regularly attend meetings.
District 5 City Councilmember Tammi Thurm and At-large City Councilmember Hugh Holston switched seats. Thurm is now seated between District 4 City Councilmember Nancy Hoffmann who, for someone facing the council dais, is on the far right and District 2 City Councilmember Goldie Wells.
From Wells going left the lineup is now At-large City Councilmember and Mayor Pro Tem Yvonne Johnson, Vaughan, At-large City Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter, Matheny, Holston and District 1 City Councilmember Sharon Hightower.
In 2009, after Bill Knight was elected mayor, there was a controversy about who had the authority to decide where councilmembers sat at the dais. The city councilmembers who were upset with Knight’s seating arrangement won that battle, but afterwards the City Council decided that councilmembers could choose their seats by cumulative seniority.
Since Holston has only served since September 2021, he has the least seniority. Matheny was elected July 26 but served on the City Council from 2007 to 2015, so those six years count toward his seniority according to the council rules and Matheny chose to take Outling’s old seat.
It might take a Kremlinologist to decipher what it means for Thurm to move from the far left of the dais to the far right, but Thurm has seniority over Holston, so it was Thurm who initiated the move.
The City Council is now made up of seven women and two men, and the two men, Holston and Matheny, are sitting side by side. The old City Council was made up of five black members and four white members, including the mayor.
The current City Council has five white members and four black members.