Former District 5 City Councilmember Tony Wilkins has announced he will be running for City Council in 2021.

Wilkins sent out a press release on Monday, Feb. 1, announcing his intent to run for City Council, but not whether he will be running for the District 5 seat currently held by Councilmember Tammi Thurm, who defeated Wilkins in the 2017 election, or for one of the three at-large seats on the City Council. 

Those at-large seats are currently held by Mayor Pro Tem Yvonne Johnson and Councilmembers Marikay Abuzuaiter and Michelle Kennedy.  The three at-large seats go to the candidates with the three highest vote totals in the at-large race.  It’s one of the few elections where a candidate can finish third, as Kennedy did in 2017, and win. 

The mayor pro tem is elected by the City Council and is traditionally the at-large candidate with the highest vote total; that was Johnson in 2017.  Johnson is a powerhouse in Greensboro politics.  She was first elected at large in 1993.  Johnson was elected Greensboro’s first black mayor in 2007 and lost her bid for reelection in 2009.  In 2011, Johnson won an at-large seat on the City Council and has been reelected ever since.

Wilkins had announced in April 2019 that he was running for mayor in 2021, but has since lowered his sights to regaining a seat on the City Council.  As to which seat he is still undecided.

On Jan. 11, Wilkins told the Guilford County Republican Party Executive Committee that he was running for City Council and today made the official announcement.

Wilkins was first appointed to fill the District 5 City Council seat in 2012, when Trudy Wade won election to the state Senate.

Wilkins then won elections in 2013 and 2015 before being defeated by Thurm in 2017, which was the first time the council was elected to four-year terms.

Wilkins said, “I feel like I can still contribute to the good of the city and the taxpayers by being fiscally responsible with the taxpayers’ money and trying to make decisions in the best interest of all the citizens of Greensboro.”

Asked for an example, Wilkins said, “Even dating as far back as my terms on council, it was proven by the city manager that we were wasting $200,000 of taxpayer money on participatory budgeting.”

Wilkins added, “I would also be interested in a discussion on zero-based budgeting.  I think it’s worth discussing.”

So far, the official announcements for the 2021 municipal elections include District 3 City Councilmember Justin Outling for mayor and Chip Roth for the District 3 City Council seat.

Filing for the 2021 Greensboro City Council election doesn’t open until Friday, July 26, so Wilkins and anyone else who is considering a run has plenty of time to make up their minds.