The Greensboro City Council unanimously selected Hugh Holston, who is currently chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission, to fill the vacant at large seat on the City Council at the Tuesday, Sept. 14 virtual meeting.
After hearing via Zoom from all 20 of the 47 candidates who had nominated themselves for the open seat and wanted to speak, it didn’t take the City Council long to make a decision.
Councilmember Sharon Hightower nominated Gerry McCants shortly after the final speaker and the nomination was seconded by Councilmember Yvonne Johnson. The nomination failed on a 6-2 vote with only Hightower and Johnson voting in favor of McCants.
Councilmember Goldie Wells then, without any discussion, nominated Holston and it was seconded by Councilmember Justin Outling.
There was no discussion after the nomination, but during the roll call vote when councilmembers are not supposed to say anything except yes or no, Hightower did say that since her candidate did not win she would vote for Holston.
It is a historic appointment because when Holston is sworn into office on Tuesday, Sept. 21, for the first time the majority of the members of the Greensboro City Council will be African American.
Since there was no general discussion of the candidates other than for councilmembers to say they were impressed with the entire group, it is a given that the decision to select Holston for the seat had been made prior to the meeting. Councilmembers had heard from a number of candidates and supporters of those candidates in the days prior to the meeting and Holston had been named as one of the leading candidates.
In this type of selection process, if a candidate can line up five votes they are often elected unanimously because councilmembers don’t want to vote against someone they know they are going to have to work with in the future.
Holston is replacing former City Councilmember Michelle Kennedy who resigned to accept the position of Greensboro Department of Neighborhood Development director.
Mayor Nancy Vaughan checked with City Attorney Chuck Watts to make certain that Holston could chair the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on Monday, Sept. 20 before being sworn in the following day.
So Holston is not going to get much of a break, chairing a long meeting on Monday and then serving at his first meeting as a city councilmember on Tuesday.