The Greensboro City Council appointed a new member to the Greensboro Zoning Commission at the May 4 meeting, but it was not without controversy.
It is rare for a city councilmember to vote against an appointment. However, the nomination of Mary Skenes to fill a vacancy on the Zoning Commission passed, according to Mayor Nancy Vaughan, by a 7-2 vote with Councilmembers Michelle Kennedy and Sharon Hightower voting no.
Kennedy, in explaining her vote, said, “I just would like to see us move to more both racial and otherwise diversity on that board. I realize that she is a woman and will be appointed to that body but that’s my position.”
The City Council currently lists the members of boards and commissions that it appoints by race and gender. The Zoning Commission before Skene’s appointment, according to the city’s records, was made up of four black males, two white females, one white male and one Hispanic male.
Skenes, who is a white female, was appointed to replace Tony Collins, a white male, who was removed from the Zoning Commission by a unanimous vote of the City Council for exhibiting white privilege and entitlement when addressing a black female who was speaking before the commission.
The stated goal of the City Council is to have all the boards and commissions it appoints reflect the demographics of the city with each of the five City Council districts having equal representation. Because most boards and commissions have nine members and there are five council districts, the goal of having each district equally represented is a mathematical impossibility.
With Skenes on the Zoning Commission, according to the stated goals of the council, the commission does not reflect the demographics of the city. Black males make up 44 percent of the commission and make up about 20 percent of the city. White females make up 33 percent of the commission and about 24 percent of the city. White males make up 11 percent of the commission and about 23 percent of the city. Hispanic males make up 11 percent of the commission and about 3 percent of the city. Black females make up 0 percent of the commission and about 21 percent of the city. Hispanic females make up 0 percent of the commission and about 4 percent of the city. Asian males make up 0 percent of the commission and 2 percent of the city. Asian females make up 0 percent of the commission and 3 percent of the city.
The demographics of Greensboro are estimates based on the US Census figures.
The City Council itself does not come close to reflecting the demographics of the city. It is made up of five white females, three black females and one black male.