Greensboro City Manager Tai Jaiyeoba held his first “Talk with Tai” listening session at the Smith Active Adult Center on Fairview Street Tuesday, Feb. 8 at 12:15 p.m.
As with many similar events over the years, the media and city staff outnumbered the people who were there to talk with Tai, so there were more people there to watch Jaiyeoba talk to people than people for him to talk to.
Jaiyeoba got things started with a short opening statement and said, “My intention is not to create another Charlotte in North Carolina. One is enough.”
Jaiyeoba was an assistant city manager and director of the planning and development department in Charlotte before accepting the job of Greensboro city manager. He started his new job running a city with over 3,000 employees and a $600 million budget one week ago on Feb. 1.
He said his job “was not a sprint but a marathon.”
Jaiyeoba said, you hear a lot of people talking about quality of life but, “what quality of life means for some people is just picking up the trash.”
Although Jaiyeoba said that he planned to spend most of the listening sessions, listening and not talking, he did answer many of the questions he was asked.
Phillip Marsh asked about his support for the creative community and in particular street art.
Jaiyeoba said that he would like to see Greensboro become known as the southeastern center for arts and would like to see a focus on arts, culture and entertainment.
Jaiyeoba was asked about affordable housing and said that one of the keys to successful affordable housing was public transit and that for public transit to be successful it had to provide “fast, frequent, reliable service.”
He said, “Most people will tell you that if it takes twice the amount of time to take public transit. I’d rather drive.”
Jaiyeoba said that the work that had been done in Greensboro was paying off big time in terms of economic development and added, “We’re not Charlotte and not Raleigh and we don’t want to be. We are uniquely Greensboro.”
Tai noted that no city could match Greensboro for the number of colleges and universities per square mile and that the city needed to take advantage of the large number of students entering the workforce.
District 2 City Councilmember Goldie Wells and Mayor Nancy Vaughan both attended the listening session, which is available on the city’s YouTube channel.