Democratic City Council members Molly Leight and James Taylor say they are optimistic about their chances for reelection.
Taylor, who won the Southeast Ward seat four years ago, beating the Democratic incumbent along the way, says one of his greatest accomplishments on the Council is the work he has done to bring economic development to the ward. He is also proud of his championing of an anti-graffiti ordinance that prohibits the sale of spray paint to minors and 10 percent minority businesses participation requirement for firms vying for city business.
“This ward has created the most jobs in the last four years, with the addition of Caterpillar, Herbalife and Pepsi,” he said. “…We’ve been successful with changing the quality of life, not only with jobs and economic development, but also through legislation.”
Taylor said he and East Ward Councilman Derwin Montgomery were instrumental in pushing for the creation of an Entertainment District on the northern end of downtown that Taylor believes will have a big impact on increasing the city’s entertainment value – and appeal to young professionals – in years to come.
If re-elected, Taylor says improving the public safety in his ward will be a top priority, beginning with seeing to fruition the opening of a Winston-Salem Police Department district office. The office, which Taylor has proposed to be installed in the Nissen Wagon Works building on Waughtown Street, would serve as a command center for officers in the area, providing increased police presence in the ward 24 hours a day.
“We’ve worked on jobs and economic development,” said the North Carolina Central University alumnus. “Now we’ve got to work on safety.”
In his first term, Taylor said he has proven his worth as a public official and his dedication to the constituents of his ward time and again.
“I think it helps being an incumbent because you’re running on a record. I think the residents of the Southeast Ward understand that I’ve done exactly what I said I would do,” declared the father of three. “…I think we’ve been successful but there’s a lot more work to be done, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to be able to get it done.”
Taylor’s challenger, Republican Mike Hunger, did not respond to an interview request before press time.
As a unit, Leight said she, Taylor and their colleagues on the Council have worked hard to support residents all across the city and improve the quality of life for everyone concerned.
“I think we’ve worked well together and our record in economic development – even during all of this slow down of the economy – I think has been stupendous,” she said. “I think we’ve held the line pretty well in bringing in new businesses.”
Leight, who is seeking her third term, says the hallmarks of her leadership have been environmental and neighborhood-driven initiatives that favor individual residents over big business. She says she has pushed for ordinances that demand the protection of the city’s vegetation, trees and streams, as well as pushing back against several large scale projects that were unwanted among residents of the ward.
If re-elected, Leight said she will continue to champion the rights of the residents, fighting back against measures such as an ordinance change that would allow for the construction of new cellular towers in residential areas.
“It’s a real self-serving ordinance,” Leight said. “We’ll have to do a lot of work to make sure that that doesn’t happen.”
Leight said she would continue to support improvements to the downtown core and look for innovative ways to fund projects that help Winston-Salem live up to its City of the Arts moniker, through public art exhibits, displays and other ventures that tap into the talents of the city’s vast artistic ability.
Leight said she has worked hard to be accessible and accountable to the residents of her ward and all across her hometown.
“I do pay attention to the people in my ward and to the problems of the city as a whole,” she said. “I’m definitely a public servant. I am not a politician. I truly am in this just to serve the city and its citizens.”
Leight’s opponent, Republican Nathan Jones, did not respond to an interview request before press time.