The overall state of governance in Greensboro doesn’t get a positive review from respondents in the poll. Many people express a disconnect with governance. The issues of focus, effectiveness, and equity show up as areas of concern. The poll indicates much opportunity for improvement.
Despite all that Greensboro has going for it, the sense is the city is lagging in the state:
This a great town but I fear we're losing sight of what's important with regard to being a civil society.
[Want us to be] Healthy economically (which it is not-we are seventh in median household income n the state, fourteenth in purchasing power), broader based participation in civic leadership (which is not the way we do business ), more affordable housing (we are out of land inside current limits and have refused to get more), have a real economic development program (ours never says we want you to come here-except for Musk), seek new leadership (ours is out of touch, deflects new leaders and is holding us down), promote minority contracting (currently two percent of City business-thirty five percent of tax revenue-38% poverty in East Greensboro), have honest debate about what's really going on and needed here(disagreement is not negative-its cast that way to shut down other voices), don't commit all our water and sewer resources to one "mega site" which is flawed with power lines down the middle( $36 million more), and more.
All people need to want Greensboro to be successful. County Commissioners are a barrier to our community moving forward, excelling, setting a high standard for North Carolina, and partnering with City of Greensboro.
I would like to see Greensboro remain a family friendly city with lots of greenery and parks. I love the strong educational environment here with all of the institutions of higher learning. I would like to leverage those institutions to offer even more in the way of art, music, drama and lectures that the citizens as well as the students can enjoy. Although I prefer that we do not try to be a Charlotte or Raleigh, Greensboro really does need to do more to grow and attract home offices and larger companies. It seems like all of our home grown companies have been bought out and our city now only has branches of companies with very few executive level jobs. To keep the younger generations here, we need to do much better in offering them challenging, higher level, better paying jobs.
Many respondents want more attention paid to those who are struggling:
I want a Greensboro where everyone can have what we need to live well- especially in terms of governance. I want a Greensboro where we focus on making sure that the most vulnerable are not so vulnerable, and where the overwhelming majority of the people here have a real voice in the decisions that impact their lives. I want to see people who have records deciding how much money we need to put towards record expungement and connecting people returning from prison to new jobs. I want to see people who have been homeless, or on the verge of it, deciding how much is practical or necessary to invest in keeping people housed. I want our city council meetings to have a primer in accessible language so that anyone who can read, can look at the agenda and understand what's happening. I want them to have childcare and food, so working parents can attend their meetings (and for them to be live online- so that people who don't want to take their kids out of their schedules can engage too). I want a Greensboro where we see how we engage in local governance as part of how we treat our neighbors- and I want us to treat our neighbors very well.
Restructure and reprioritize city funding to reflect the urgent needs of our citizens for safe and affordable housing, greater access to quality health care, education and recreation opportunities. Reprioritize sustainability efforts including hiring full time staff to move the city more rapidly to 100% carbon free. Create stronger community collaborative networks to encourage far greater community engagement and volunteer opportunities.
We continually see productivity gains and GDP growth, while most people have to work more and harder to make ends meet. We have invested an ever-growing amount of money into "leadership" over the last few decades, but during that same time we have seen the gap between rich and poor grow, and the outcomes of our citizens worsen. At some point - we may already be there - it will not be possible to "fix" or "reset" things in such a way that we are able to achieve better outcomes for all. I hope, not only, that the Covid crisis will put a lens on the inequality that has been a part of our society for centuries, but that we will take real action to try and put honest processes in place that can deliver better outcomes for all.
The is a call for more responsive and representative leadership:
I want a community that works for all, with responsive and accountable leaders. I particularly all kids in the city to have equal access to opportunities and support. So I want their parents to all be able to earn a living wage.
Less red tape for small businesses. Less city council members only thinking about their neighborhood and not the entire city.
Change city council from a perpetual state of " discus discuss discuss" to "do do do". I'm from Greensboro, went to NC State, toured this nation & the world and have not seen a city that is so slow to act upon their vision as my hometown & current town. We've got the best mountain bike & hiking trail system for a town our size in this region, yet we've been working on a city greenway for almost a decade. Greensboro has good ideas... act upon them. Stop trying to be the next "Innovation Quarter" like Winston. Stop trying to be Raleigh or Charlotte. Greensboro has good roots... build upon them.
Balance - In order for any city to thrive, it must have an equal balance at the leadership level, at the operations level, and at the community level. Balance of power, balance of leadership, balance of community is what we all seek today and for the future! This means we must diversify our city. We need an equal number of democrats and republicans working together as elected officials. We need an equal number of men and woman. We need an equal number of people from different race. Balance will restore our city and allow us to flourish for years to come.
There is a desire for the city to do more to listen to the voices of people:
I want for all voices to be heard and to be a part of the decision-making process
Unfortunately most decision-making in Greensboro is done by people with comfortable lifestyles and adequate means and they're making decisions for people with very little money or access.
A number of responses point to the greater influence of developers:
The city of Greensboro has done an excellent marketing job of projecting a thriving city built for developers. It doesn't actually support the people living and working in the city. Too many deals have been made with developers to overbuild downtown blocks with pricey accommodations while there isn't an adequate shelter for homeless citizens.
I want to see a Greensboro where the city council members are not so inordinately responsive to developers' needs and more responsive to residents' needs.
Try to improve balance between large corporate tax base demands and small retail service providers. For example: the perception is that high dollar companies and developers get the velvet glove treatment and receive most of the incentives without having to shoulder much of the risk. While we are at it, it would be a good idea to look at the way small businesses are set up legally. Should small businesses be allowed to be established without first incorporating as an LLC? No small business should risk their personal assets when virtually no large corporations do. Seeing Mom and Pop businesses go out of business during the Covid pandemic because they have had to forfeit their personal wealth is tragic. Chapter 11 bankruptcy should be an option for everyone. Also, please hold the line between residential areas and business/industrial development. We need more buffers between these areas especially in minority communities. Thanks!
There is a desire for the city to claim its heritage as being a leader in social change:
I'm tired of a racially divided city. Greensboro, the start of the sit-ins, has a great opportunity to be a leader in real change and continue to mend long-standing wounds. Build in city-wide activities that bring us together. A true sense of community and working together to achieve equity for all residents. I would like to see more investment in social support services and less in "law and order" - we need affordable housing, access to free or low-cost healthcare (including mental health), a living wage for everyone, support for small businesses, etc. (These are things I'd like to see in Gso and in the country as a whole - things like universal healthcare and strengthening the social safety net for all citizens.) The Covid-19 crisis and the death of George Floyd (and Breonna Taylor, Amaud Arbury and others) have exposed stark disparities and have shone a light on systemic racism in healthcare, policing, and basically all areas of life in our country. I hope we can learn something from the shock and pain of it all and work towards rectifying these deep-seeded societal problems. I don't know what the answers are, but I'm paying attention and listening. I'm praying for a spark from the energy of the past few months to ignite the flame that finally drives us toward "liberty and justice for all". A place where everyone truly feels safe and welcome. Where the city government and officials listen to the people and reflect those values through financial investment and oversight. Where financial gain through corporations is not a primary incentive for funding, and gentrification are not concerns. I see a Greensboro whose council members are not afraid to go against the grain and not afraid to dream of a better community.