Winston-Salem is a great place to work and live for many of us. Together, we can make it a great place for ALL of us!
In the few short months since I responded to this question for the 2020 March Primary, the world has changed, and so has my answer. I now see two serious issue facing Winston-Salem and we must address both of these. One is recovering from the financial and emotional blows dealt by COVID-19, and the other is simultaneously addressing in a real and meaningful way the systemic racism and other inequities and injustices that divide our community and marginalize various groups of citizens that don’t consistently walk in the “mainstream” of society. And we must accomplish the latter without tearing down our Police, our Firefighters or any other members of our Public Safety network. “Defunding the police” is not the answer and not an option I will support. I do think, however, we need to redefine what “Public Safety” should encompass, and revise spending based on new guidelines that shift more focus to addressing the root causes of crime, and working to prevent crimes and the conditions that lead to criminal activity.
Winston-Salem’s 2021 budget was created assuming a much shorter “down time” due to the pandemic and a much faster recovery. Knowing what we know now, we really need to start the budgeting process over to capture a more realistic financial picture that recognizes revenue shortfalls and reallocates spending based on our most pressing needs. We need to figure out how to safely open as many businesses as possible and put people back to work without compromising anyone’s health. And for those small/local businesses that can’t safely reopen through no fault of their own, we need to provide some kind of financial safety net for these folks until they can get back on their feet.
On the second point, we need to move past protesting and start listening, negotiating and compromising to develop workable solutions. The City can and should play the role of mediator between disenfranchised citizens and public safety providers to expose problems, develop workable solutions, and own the responsibility to fix these ongoing problems. We need to offer a place at the table for some of the most vocal and most knowledgeable leaders of Black Lives Matter and other marginalized community-based groups on the City’s Public Safety Committee and other City groups that could benefit from hearing these often overlooked voices.
My unique skill set blends the "hard side" of business with the "soft side" of human services and arts-based charitable organizations. As a result, I lead with my heart and make decisions from my head. I spent the first half of my career in corporate America, putting my international MBA to good use at Hanesbrands/Sara Lee managing multi-million dollar lines of businesses with budgetary and profit & loss responsibilities. I've learned in the second half of my career in non-profit management that answers are not always black and white, and you have to look beyond the numbers alone to make good decisions. Because of my past community leadership roles, I know Winston-Salem's people and resources very well, and I can hit the ground running.
Additional educational details and names of the some of the organizations I've worked with over the years:
Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude from Wofford College (Spartanburg, SC) with a BA in Government and Spanish Language; International MBA from the University of South Carolina (Columbia.) Having lived and worked for a 6 month stint with Black & Decker in Mexico City, I am fluent in conversational Spanish. Work assignments have included ED of Sawtooth School, Interim ED of the Little Theatre of W-S, VP of AIDS Care Service, and United Way Campaign Exec. Board/Committee assignments on March of Dimes, Nat'l Black Theatre Festival, Triad Pride Gay Men's Chorus, Crosby Scholars, Arts Council, 40+ Stage Company, Green Street UMC and others.
We know masks work to drastically slow the spread of this virus because...well, science! I would strongly urge the Mayor to take a harder line on requiring masks. As a municipality we are allowed impose stronger restrictions than the governor has. We need to begin imposing fines for those who don't wear masks, and non-maskers should be removed from public establishments by public safety officers if they refuse to comply. Businesses can and should be fined as well for not enforcing these important safety guidelines. Those who can't wear masks due to health reasons (or any other reason protected by the first amendment) should not be exempted from this requirement as nearly every conceivable sector of goods and services is now providing no-contact pick-up and/or delivery. To make this equitable for our community's low/no-income residents, we need to continue to provide masks through churches, community centers and other non-profit services to those with limited resources. I would also require stores of a certain size to provide disposable masks for customers as a condition for their staying open. This is an affordable cost of doing business.
I was not in favor of changing our current system of representation on the City Council because there was no groundswell of support for change or complaints about the current structure from the people of Winston-Salem. To me, this seemed to be a very top-down directive coming from the General Assembly, and giving me even greater pause was the fact that their original suggestion would have eliminated one of the African-American female representatives from the Council. This was not something I could have supported. While I can live with the final outcome and I'm not opposed to having "at-large" representation in theory, I worry that the additional expense of marketing to the entire population of Winston-Salem (rather than 1/8 as currently structured) to garner support and win votes would have a negative impact on potential candidates. This would increase campaign costs so drastically that only a candidate with significant personal resources and/or access to friends with deep pockets would be capable of earning one of these spots. This does not bode well for maintaining or expanding inclusivity and diversity among our City Council representatives.