Gboro council race: quantity is not necessarily quality

Greensboro News & Record editorializes on the upcoming nonpartisan City Council race:

Thirty-seven candidates are running, forcing primaries in every race. These preliminaries on Oct. 8 will just narrow the field to the final two for mayor and in each district race and the top six for three at-large seats. The general election Nov. 7, when more people come out to vote, most likely will be highly competitive.

Because Greensboro elections are nonpartisan, party labels don’t matter. The final contenders in District 1 both could be Democrats. In District 5, they could both be Republicans. Candidates who don’t belong to either party can run on a level playing field. They aren’t denied equal access to the ballot as they would be in partisan elections. It’s more open, inclusive and conducive to full participation and good government.

Note the large number of candidates, something that uber-liberal columnist Susan Ladd believes is a good thing. And I don’t disagree that Gboro council races have suffered from a dearth of candidates in recent years. But numbers are what they are –just numbers. For starters, nine of the 37 candidates are the incumbent–including District 2 rep Goldie Wells, who took over the seat when Jamal Fox resigned. You guessed it–Wells had previously served on the council from 2005-2009. If you follow Greensboro politics, you know that’s not necessarily a good thing.

While there are a couple of promising candidates–businessman John Brown’s challenge to Mayor Nancy Vaughan could be promising—the vast majority of candidates are liberals, running on social justice platforms. If anything, the theme for this year’s election appears to be ‘challenge from the left.’ The challenger to District 4 rep Nancy Hoffmann—not exactly a right-wing nut— is none other than longtime activist Gary Kenton, who would express his liberal views on a weekly public access television show. At-large candidates include Michelle Kennedy, director of the Interactive Resource Center, who openly supports Black Lives Matter, and Dave Wils, a Guilford County Schools teacher who want to “address food insecurity.” And don’t forget Dianne Bellamy-Small, who apparently is bored with the school board and wants back on the council after losing the District 1 seat twice to Sharon Hightower, who has definitely not been an improvement.

In an opposing opinion, N&R editorial board member Mark Gibbs argues ‘there is no democracy with political parties.’ I would–emphasis on would—argue that a partisan City Council race would help voters sort out the candidates in a more efficient manner. With no party attached to the candidate’s name, voters pretty much have to sort through all 37 candidates positions. Yes that’s a perfect world scenario–and the N&R’s all about a perfect world–but it’s not reality. And it doesn’t really matter when the field is majority liberal anyway. So memo to the N&R–quantity does not necessarily mean quality.

Sam Hieb / Contributing Editor

Sam Hieb is freelance journalist from Greensboro, North Carolina. He is a contributing editor for Carolina Journal and for Piedmont Publius, a blog that focuses on political a...

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