Greensboro's nonpartisan Primary Elections for city council and mayor take place on May 17, with the top two mayoral vote-getters squaring off in Greensboro's municipal general election in July. We're taking a look at each of the candidates this week, beginning with Justin Outling.
The UNC Greensboro and Duke Law School alumnus is a partner with a large firm where he practices business litigation. But he grew up in Buffalo, New York, in much humbler surroundings watching his father toil as a garbageman.
"His feet would come home swollen round and [he] developed a little hunch in his back just from working so hard," says Outling. "And so, for me it taught me and my brother, Amos, really foundational lessons about hard work — life is not always fair, but you control your response, and you get back up and you fight to provide for your family and for your community."
Now a parent of two young children, Outling serves on the City Council where his main focus has been creating structures and rules to incentivize new businesses, and to expand affordable housing. He says historically, neglected homes left the city with two bad options: demolish the property and lose housing stock, or allow the blighted building to stand, bringing down surrounding property values. Outling says he helped develop a third option.
"In which the city could make repairs directly to the properties and take out a lien on the property such that if the property is sold in the future, the city gets its money back for making the repairs, or alternatively the city can work out a payment schedule with the owner to pay back the cost of the repairs," he says.
When asked why he's running for mayor, Outling says he deeply loves the city of Greensboro and feels it's at the core of who he is as a person — meeting his wife Cora as a freshman at UNCG, raising two children who attend Jones Elementary School. He feels Greensboro should be the envy of every city in the state, and says he has a vision to get there, beginning with transportation.
He believes the arrival of Boom Supersonic and Toyota battery to the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite and PTI do present employment opportunities, but he says more focus needs to be placed on access.
"We run the real risk of having donut-shaped prosperity: a prosperous surrounding area outside of Greensboro, with good jobs, high wages, great housing, and then a city of Greensboro that has lower wages, lower opportunity," says Outling.
As for public safety, Outling calls for a strategy of intervention and prevention — looking at the root causes behind violent crime which he calls a lagging indicator. He proposes creating youth job guarantees specifically for those teenagers in high-crime neighborhoods.
Outling says if elected mayor he would continue advocating for increased police pay, and the overall law enforcement budget to help retain and hire more officers and lower response times. As a councilmember Outling voted in favor of Greensboro's anti-profiling policy, and he led efforts to pass the city's first minimum standards code for non-residential properties.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story mistakenly identified the Greensboro municipal general election as occurring in November. The election is July 26, 2022.