Greensboro's primary elections are Tuesday to determine city council members and to narrow the field of mayoral candidates down to two for the upcoming Greensboro municipal general election in July. We've been following each of the four contenders. WFDD's David Ford concludes our series with this profile on current Mayor Nancy Vaughan.
Vaughan is seeking a fourth term as mayor. It was zoning issues that drew her into local politics, first as a city councilmember and then mayor. She says going from district-level to a city-wide focus has given her the tools to deal with today's challenges which she says include affordable housing.
"We will have a $30 million bond referendum on July 26th for affordable housing and that will help us implement our ten-year housing plan," she says.
Since first being elected in 2013 she's led the city through economic downturns, a deadly tornado, and COVID-19. There have been controversial moments though, including the City Council announcing and then tabling an independent investigation into the death of Marcus Smith at the hands of Greensboro police — a victim of a prone restraint method similar to a hogtie.
And gun violence has been a sticky issue as well with Greensboro's crime rate once again outpacing the national average. She says the city has implemented innovative policies to address the issue.
"The mental health co-responders with police officers, the Take Me Home program, the Chief's 500 job initiative," says Vaughan. "There are a lot of different things going on which I think long-term will make a difference."
And when it comes to the challenge of how to sustain economic growth, Vaughan says she welcomes the recent arrivals of Boom Supersonic and Toyota Battery to the Triad, but they're not enough.
"One thing that we learned with the recession is that you can't put all your eggs in those big business baskets," she says. "So, we need to prop up these small and medium businesses which truly are the backbone of our economy."
Vaughan also sees the need for an equitable distribution of city resources.
"We are making target investments in amenities that I think are important for families to have, like parks and recreation, sidewalks," she says. "But we also have to increase our mass transit to make sure that people can get around easily."
Vaughan says she's focused on bringing better jobs to East Greensboro. Economic incentives developed in 2021 give employers extra money to hire people within a targeted zone, and another bonus to provide skills training needed for those jobs.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story mistakenly identified the Greensboro municipal general election as occurring in November. The election is July 26, 2022.