Greensboro's nonpartisan Primary Elections for City Council and mayor are next Tuesday. The top two mayoral vote-getters will face off in Greensboro's municipal general election in July. WFDD is looking at each of the candidates and we continue now with Mark Cummings.
The criminal justice attorney, born and raised in Greensboro, grew up poor in a single-parent household. He says the early advocacy by public school educators changed the course of his life and countless others. If elected mayor, Cummings says he would replace false promises of more teacher pay with actual support.
"Why are class sizes so big?" asks Cummings. "Why are teachers having to go into their own pockets to pay for materials for students? And so when you see this onslaught, this attack at public education it angers me because I know that that is the mechanism by which if you started off poor like I did — off of Phillips Avenue, on Section 8, and food stamps — that you don't have to stay there."
Cummings, who describes himself as being people-oriented, says these early experiences were formative. Seeing injustices all around him led to his law career, and he says, ultimately compelled him to run for mayor.
"Because I know what it means to struggle," says Cummings. "I know what it means to see your parent crying because they don't know where the next meal is going to come from. That was my experience growing up. Where is these peoples' champion — someone standing up for them — not just at election time, but in actual representative government?"
Cummings believes that solving the city's problems calls for innovative, bold new approaches beginning where he says they're needed most: East Greensboro.
"The east side of Greensboro is sick right now," he says. "It's sick with the plague of crime. It's sick with the plague of lack of jobs, lack of economic investment and opportunity. If we focus enough of our energy right now on that, we can bring it up to where West Greensboro is, and together that amazing engine called Greensboro can function in a way that it has never — when all cylinders are working together."
Cummings is running on a platform he calls One Greensboro Initiative. Among the goals is retaining young college graduates and he's proposed a Learn Here, Earn Here program to achieve it. College or university graduates who opt to stay in Greensboro and open a business or startup would receive resources from the city.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story mistakenly identified the Greensboro municipal general election as occurring in November. The election is July 26, 2022.