The 2013 Winston-Salem mayoral contest is a no-brainer, but some of the City Council primary races call for deep consultation and perhaps a bit of soul-searching.
We, at least, had to think long and hard about several of the contests. We came to the conclusion that the City would be well-served by whichever Democrat – incumbent or challenger – voters back. They are a good bunch with credentials worthy of serving the residents of this great city, but some, we feel, can simply serve Winston-Salem better at this critical time.
The Northeast Ward’s Vivian Burke has more than earned her decades’ long tenure on the Council and deserves another term. She has been and continues to be an advocate for the people and is unabashedly pro-Black. There is no other member of the Council who has the clout and backbone to speak truth to power like Burke, and now that fellow Council veteran Wanda Merschel is bowing out, Burke’s guidance and wisdom are needed more than ever.
We find it distasteful and disrespectful that some cite Burke’s age (she is nearly 80) as a reason why she should relinquish her seat. Burke is no U.S. Rep. Howard Coble (who spends more time in the hospital than on The Hill); she is spry, clear-thinking and still motivated to serve, perhaps now even more than ever. Burke lost her husband, Logan, earlier this year. For decades, she managed to serve the people while caring for her ailing husband. We have no doubt that her stellar service will not diminish over the next four years.
East Ward Council Member Derwin Montgomery has been an effective leader over the past four years, so we see no reason why ward residents should turn away from him. Sure, we want to see more economic development and action in the ward and less planning and community input meetings, but we think Montgomery has brought a new energy to the ward. We are confident that he can use it to transform East Winston even more over the course of his next term.
James Taylor also deserves another go as the Southeast Ward’s Council member. Taylor is a good local, community leader who is truly concerned about his people. He has been responsive to residents’ concerns and has fresh ideas that if realized will change the face of his ward.
Three Democrats are vying for the opportunity to replace Merschel in the Northwest Ward. We like Laura Elliott – partly because she is the only contender that our community truly knows.
Though she was a paid employee at ESR – the agency dedicated to helping the homeless and working poor – her position was more of a calling than a job. She helped the agency open housing units for the homeless and move families off the streets and into permanent housing. For the past several years, she has dedicated her time to making the playing field level for all Forsyth County residents through her volunteer efforts with CHANGE. Elliott speaks with a sweet, slight voice but has a powerful message and a solid commitment to justice and bridge-building.
We are stumped in the South Ward. Molly Leight is likable, but we feel that community organizer Carolyn Highsmith has more fire in her belly to serve and shake things up if need be. That’s why we lean in her favor.
West Ward Council Member Robert Clark is the only common-sense Republican left in the state, which is probably the reason two other Republicans are gunning for his seat. Clark is smart, fair and pragmatic, and with Merschel gone, his business background will be an even greater asset to the Council.
The capable and effective Dan Besse of the Southwest Ward and DD Adams of the North Ward have no primary opponents.