With the 2021 City Council election currently scheduled for a May 17 primary and a July 26, general election it’s already a bizarre election year.

The first candidates forum of this strange election year held by United Way of Greater Greensboro fit right in. It is unusual to hold a candidates forum before filing has closed since until filing closes, there is no way to know who is actually running. 

Filing for the City Council election was open for three days in early December and then closed.  It is scheduled to reopen on Monday, Feb. 24 and close on Friday, March 4 at noon.

In this forum for mayoral candidates only one, District 3 City Councilmember Justin Outling, has filed to run for mayor.  The other two candidates in the forum Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Eric Robert have announced their intention to run, but have not filed.

It was announced that a fourth candidate who plans to run, TyQuann Knight contacted United Way too late to be included in the forum and that other candidates may also file.

The hourlong forum titled “Perspectives on Poverty and the Future of Greensboro” began with a video promoting the United Way of Greensboro introduced by President and CEO of the United Way of Greater Greensboro Khari Garvin.

And of course rather than have an actual forum with the three mayoral candidates all in the same room, the forum was held via Zoom.

Both Vaughan and Outling are experienced politicians who know how to string a bunch of impressive words together that don’t necessarily answer the question.

However, Robert who is running for the first time gave the best answer of the forum, “I don’t have the answer to this question right now.”

The lengthy question was about how the City of Greensboro could making better use of the institutes of higher learning to solve problems related to poverty.

Vaughan and Outling who have now been running against each other for over a year got in some cordial, yet pointed sniping at each other.

Vaughan said that under her leadership the city had held a landlord accountable for a $200,000 settlement and called it “unprecedented.”

Outling said, “Settling for pennies on the dollar is not holding anyone accountable.”

He called the settlement “an abomination.”