After being delayed first by the North Carolina state legislature and then by the NC Supreme Court, the municipal campaigns in Greensboro are finally getting underway.
Sunday, April 3 at UNCG, a debate for the mayoral candidates was held for the four mayoral candidates on the ballot.
It didn’t take long for the four candidates to establish how they see their campaigns progressing. Attorney Mark Cummings, a former District Court judge, and Eric Robert are running as the outsiders who are each asking the voters to elect them so they can go in and straighten out the mess at city hall.
District 3 City Councilmember Justin Outling and Mayor Nancy Vaughan can’t very well run as outsiders since they are part of the government, but they are clearly running against each other.
Vaughan and Outling took various shots at each other, disagreeing about who supported what, which appeared to boil down to the meaning of the word “support.”
One issue that Vaughan brought up in speaking about economic development was the fact that Outling had to recuse himself from the votes on the Toyota Battery and Boom Supersonic economic development projects.
Vaughan said, “I was able to vote for all those jobs and Mr. Outling had to recuse himself from those votes and everything else that is going to come up because his attorney was working for Toyota or his attorney was working for Boom. You need somebody who is going to represent you every single day.”
Outling didn’t disagree with that statement. He said, “I’m a member of the Greensboro City Council as well as a lawyer and I’m proud of the law firm for which I work. If there is a consequential matter in our region, our law firm is involved in it. I was someone who assisted Toyota in connection with coming to Randolph County bringing jobs to our region.”
Outling is a partner in the Brooks Pierce law firm and as he agreed he does have to ask to be recused from a number of votes taken by the City Council because the involvement of the law firm creates a conflict of interest.
In his opening statement, Robert, who is a designer, said, “I see things as they are and see things as they could be and it appears Greensboro is geared to become a giant Applebee’s devoid of taste.”
Robert also said that there was no reason why affordable housing had to look horrible and could be designed to be as attractive as luxury apartments.
Cummings said, “I am an attorney, a litigator. I solve problems. We have a lot of problems in Greensboro but I look forward to solving them together.”
On the issue of the increase in crime, Cummings said that he would work to “build a relationship between city activists and police.”