Mayor Allen Joines officially kicked off his re-election Monday at the Forsyth County Government Center, just before making his way up to the Board of Elections to file his paperwork.
He thanked the dozens of citizens who came out to cheer him on.
“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support as we really get serious,” said the three-term incumbent. “I know with your help, we’ll hopefully be successful, and I think we’re doing the right thing.”
One opponent has already filed to face Joines – fellow Democrat Gardenia Henley, a city native and outspoken critic of the mayor.
Joines told supporters that he deserves to be reelected, noting that Winston-Salem boasts the lowest taxes and fees of any major city in North Carolina, the lowest unemployment rate in the Triad area and has reduced its chronic homelessness rate by 58 percent during his tenure. He acknowledged, though, that work still needs to be done.
“I’m hoping for a chance to get rehired for another term as we nurture these seeds that we’ve grown,” he stated. “…The worst thing we can do is take this election for granted. We need to get out the vote.”
Henley, an Air Force veteran and retired diplomat, also filed Monday. She believes new leadership is a necessity. She has detailed her goals in a document called “The Henley Plan,” which pledges to tackle the “tough issues” and address needs of city residents that she says are currently being overlooked.
“Winston-Salem needs a complete overhaul and we need to start at the level of mayor. As far as I’m concerned, it should’ve happened 12 years ago,” declared Henley, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2012 and for the NC House District 72 in 2010. “…We need someone with the right type of qualifications like myself who has the proven leadership skills to take Winston-Salem out of the deficit that it’s in.”
Henley, whose platform also includes economic development, education and gang awareness and prevention, believes her leadership could help to boost morale citywide.
“The people are very unhappy. Especially right here in Winston-Salem, the people are very unhappy with the government, with the elected officials, but the people feel they have no voice,” she said. “The people are very happy that they now have that voice (through her campaign) that they did not have before. The campaign has gone very well.”
Democrats Jeff MacIntosh and Brenda Diggs were among those who filed Monday to run for City Council. MacIntosh, a realtor at Leonard Ryden Burr, made his candidacy for the Northwest Ward official Monday. The Wake Forest University alumnus is hoping to succeed Wanda Merschel, who recently announced that she would not seek reelection. MacIntosh, an advisory board member and former president of the Holly Avenue Neighborhood Association, Preserve Historic Forsyth board member and regular Samaritan Soup Kitchen volunteer, believes his professional and community service background have prepared him to serve on the Council.
“It seems like my talents are sort of pushing me in the direction of public service,” said the father of two, who officially kicked-off his campaign during a rally at Winston Square Park Monday afternoon. “…I’ve received a lot of support, both moral and financial.”
If elected, MacIntosh said one of his chief concerns would be recruiting businesses that could shoulder some of the tax burden, which he says local homeowners are currently bearing the brunt of.
Diggs, a city native and a longtime community servant, filed on July 5. The retired Wachovia employee hopes to win the Northeast Ward seat, which has been occupied by Mayor Pro Tempore Vivian Burke since the 1970s.
“It’s the right thing for me. I felt good about making that happen and serving the people, if it is their desire for me to serve them,” she said of filing for office. “…Service is what it’s about. People who know me know that that is my life.”
Diggs has worked closely with a variety of community agencies, including the United Way, the Winston-Salem Foundation’s Black Philanthropy Initiative and Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, where she currently serves on the board. If elected, Diggs said she would focus on growing the economy and attracting and keeping young professionals in the area.
“It is just my time,” said the grandmother of three, when asked about her intentions to run. “I have served the community in a variety of ways, and it’s my desire to use all my knowledge and my experience, my skill-set and my passion to serve in this capacity.”
Jemmise Bowen, a Democrat, filed Tuesday for the Northeast Ward seat.
Burke, the longest serving elected official in the city, has not yet said if she will seek reelection. She could not be reached for comment.
Two-term Southwest Ward Council Member Dan Besse also filed Monday, as did East Ward incumbent Derwin Montgomery, South Ward incumbent Molly Leight, and West Ward incumbent Robert Clark, who is the only Republican on the City Council. Challengers who filed this week include Joycelyn Johnson (Democrat, East Ward), Donald Shaw (Republican, Southwest Ward) and Howard Hudson (Republican, West Ward).
Early voting begins on Thursday, Aug. 22 at the Forsyth County Board of Elections, 201 N. Chestnut St. Primary Election Day is Tuesday, Sept. 10. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 5. For more information, visit www.fcvotes.com.