This week, as the former local political leader was laid to rest, former Guilford County leaders and other local leaders were sharing their remembrances of former Republican Guilford County Commissioner Steve Arnold who just passed away at 61.
The man who spent his career in politics fiercely opposing tax increases and fighting local government spending is being put to rest at a funeral service on Tuesday, May 2.
Memorial services will be conducted at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, at Hayworth Wesleyan Church. Arnold’s family plans to receive friends from 4 p.m. until 4:45 p.m. prior to the service.
On Monday, May 1, Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston spoke to the Rhino Times about the hot and cold relationship the two political rivals had had over decades of serving together on the Board of Commissioners – with Alston as a strong outspoken Democrat and Arnold, conversely, as a strong outspoken Republican.
Alston, who was the president of the Greensboro chapter of the NAACP in the early 1990s, once led a march of 1,200 people protesting a move by Arnold to cut school spending. So, the political atmosphere at the time was quite raucous.
“Years later, however, after the financial crisis of 2007 hit, we began to work together,” Alston said.
Alston said that, at the time the county manager was calling for an 8-cent tax increase and neither Alston nor Arnold felt the public could afford that.’
“I suggested a partnership,” Alston said, with me as chairman and Steve as vice chairman and we found some cuts to keep the county from having a tax increase. He said the two worked together in the same manner and prevented a tax increase that year as well.. It was a rare setup because, in almost all years, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Chairman and Vice Chairman are from the same party.
Guilford County Register of Deeds Jeff Thigpen, a Democrat, served as a commissioner with Arnold before becoming register of deeds. Thigpen said one of his fondest memories was meeting Arnold’s daughter, who was 10 at the time, and asking her what her favorite TV show was.
She responded that it was the “Simpsons” and Thigpen said he got a kick out of the fact that this very staunch and serious conservative politician was raising a daughter whose favorite show was the Simpsons.
Thigpen said that helped him think a lot about family life and the fact that political leaders have entirely separate lives outside of their political activities that they most often become known for.
Thigpen said he spent much of the day Monday reminiscing with past county leaders about Arnold, trading texts, calls and stories with the likes of former Republican Commissioners Billy Yow and Linda Shaw.
Warm memories of Arnold were also posted online by Arnold’s friends and families who knew him outside of his political life.
One woman wrote: “Steve was a wonderful, kind person. His presence will truly be missed in this neighborhood. We all depended on his strong, confident advice. Such a sweet family. My heart goes out to Nicole and the children.”