Last month, Temple Emanuel’s Social Action Committee held a Greensboro City Council candidate forum. The group gave the final question to the candidates that participated ahead of time and is sharing their written responses with the News & Record. Responses were limited to 90 words and have not been altered.
The News & Record separately sent the same question to candidates who did not attend the forum. An (i) indicates incumbent.
Three candidates did not return answers: Sharon Hightower, District 1 (i), Tony Wilkins, District 5, Thurston H. Reeder, District 4.
“On the July 26th General Election ballot is a $135 million bond referendum. It places FIVE bonds on the ballot and voters will be able to vote “Yes” or “No” on each bond separately. The breakdown is:
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- $30 million in Housing Bonds
- $70 million in Parks and Recreation Bonds (using $50 million combining Windsor Recreation & Vance-Chavis Library)
- $14 million in Firefighting Facilities Bonds
- $6 million in Law Enforcement Facility Bonds
- $15 million in Transportation Bonds.
“Which one is of the highest priority to you and is there any you will vote ‘No’ to?”
Here are the responses from candidates:
Justin Outling, mayor: “The housing bond is the most important on the ballot. The shortage of rental homes affordable to those earning less than $30,000 and houses affordable to those earning under $70,000 is worsening and the bond is a positive step, but one that only begins to close those gaps. We should also remember bonds do not allocate money from the City budget. They are merely a commitment for the City to borrow additional money. Housing must be factored into the City budget and greater prioritized.”
Nancy Vaughan, mayor (i): “My highest priority is the $30M Affordable Housing Bond. In October, 2020 the City Council passed a 10 year housing plan. It is comprehensive: it reinvests in our neighborhoods, it supports first time home buyers, expands affordable rental units and permanent supportive housing. It also supports struggling families at the lower end of the economic spectrum. This bond leveraged with private builders will allow us to rapidly address the concerns of rising rents, emergency repairs, and availablity of affordable housing stock. I will support ALL of the bonds.”
Marikay Abuzuaiter, at-large (i): “I will be voting for all of the bonds. Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement Bonds are needed, the Transportation Bonds are for our infrastructure, the Parks & Recreation Bonds will enhance and lift up East Greensboro and the Housing Bonds are needed for the housing crisis we are experiencing. I believe the housing bond is the most important. The $30 million bond will be instrumental in reducing the housing crisis. $20 million will be for Affordable Rental Units, $5 million for Access to Homeownership and $5 million for Neighborhood Reinvestment.”
Tracy Furman, at-large: “This is the most critical because of the housing crisis and need to move quickly to ensure we do not have grandmothers living on the street.
“This will be a one-of-a-kind center, combining the Windsor Rec Center and the Vance-Chavis Library
“We need to bring all our fire stations up to the 21st century.
“The police stations should be safe places for everyone.
“I am excited to invest more electric buses and charging stations. We need uniform bus stops, expand our bus services to support more people in Greensboro.”
Hugh Holston, at-large (i): “I support all five components of the $135M Bond Package with the Housing Bond as my top priority. With the current national housing crisis, it is imperative that we are strategic in laying a strong foundation for housing to address both the current and future housing needs of Greensboro residents. With 5-7,000 new jobs coming to our city and region in the next 3-5 years, we must provide opportunities for families to live in Greensboro to build our communities and tax base instead of having them live in other municipalities.”
Yvonne Johnson, at-large (i): “Here are my responses to the respective issues:
“-$30 million in Housing Bonds
- In dire need of safe and affordable and supportive housing.
“-$70 million in Parks and Recreation Bonds
- Serves hundreds of our youth with wholesome activities.
“-$14 million in Firefighting Facilities Bonds—$6 million in Law Enforcement Facility Bonds
- Retaining of Fire Fighters and Police Officers which has been a challenge.
“-$15 million in Transportation Bonds.
- Need a variety of public transportation to get people to good jobs, important for making livable wages.”
Katie Rossabi, at-large: “The bond items on the July 26th ballot are important. Bonds are loans however that the city must pay back. With the city and county property taxes being raised 30% and 34% respectively on top of the recent property revaluation, this is an enormous additional tax burden to pay back these bonds. This will negatively impact our middle and lower classes the most. We need to use the money we have in our current budget more efficiently towards these projects and revisit the bonds when the economy improves.”
Linda Wilson, at-large: “I support the overall bond referendum, recognizing that all of those areas are in need of funds to enhance our city’s infrastructure and services for citizens.
“I would place housing as the top priority, as our city must be able to keep up with the demand for affordable housing and create additional opportunities as the need increases.
“If passed, the bond could support our effort to make and continue Greensboro’s status as an amazing place to live, work, and play.”
Felton Foushee, District 1: “The housing bond is the most critical of the bonds on the ballot. I am a supporter & lover of our green spaces, however unless we act more intently on housing matters some of our citizens may have no better alternative than to take shelter where they can find it. Our investments have to better reflect our priorities, and our first priority should always be our people.”
Cecile (CC) Crawford, District 2: “The highest priority is the Housing bond. Housing is a human right, and I believe every resident of Greensboro deserves a safe home. With the housing stock being so low, we need to concentrate on more affordable housing throughout Greensboro, as well as the renovation of hotels and apartments for chronically houseless residents. I would like to see more money go to programs geared to keeping children and teens off of the streets with the Parks and Rec bond, that includes the Windsor Chavis complex.”
Goldie Wells, District 2 (i): “I think the bond that has top priority for me is the $70 million Parks and Recreation Bond because $50 million will complete Phase 2 of the Windsor-Chavis- Nocho Joint Use Facility. This complex will be the only one of its kind and the country. It will foster connection and collaboration between the Library and Parks and Recreation Departments. And it will be an added attraction and a valuable asset to east Greensboro.”
Zack Matheny, District 3: “The public safety bonds are the highest priority.”
Nancy Hoffmann, District 4 (i): “Greensboro citizens can vote to invest in the future of our City and Citizens on July 26. These five bonds will allow us to maintain the growth trajectory we are on adding jobs and houses for our citizens at all income levels. They will support Police and Fire. They will improve Public Transportation, focusing on getting people to their jobs. They will ensure our parks and Recreation facilities remain first class. This bond package keeps Greensboro the city you are proud to call HOME.”
Tammi Thurm, District 5 (i): “The housing bond is the highest priority. We must work to ensure that all our neighbors have a place to call home where they are not cost-burdened. This is a key building block to increasing the quality of life and safety in our community and making Greensboro a safe and welcoming community for all. I’m proud of my work on Greensboro’s first permanent supportive housing project, but we have more work to do. I will vote yes on all bonds.”
5 Greensboro bonds totaling $135 million on city’s ballot July 26. Here’s what you need to know.