Both Democrats running for the Southwest Ward nomination say they want to continue the legacy of incumbent Council Member Dan Besse, who was first elected in 2001 and who is now serving his fourth term.
Besse, who is running for the state House in the 74th District, will be off the council this fall whether or not he wins that race, since he can’t keep his current seat and run for the General Assembly at the same time.
The candidates are Scott Andree-Bowen and Kevin Mundy. But Besse said he’s not endorsing either of the newcomers publicly, though he added that he knows whom he will vote for, and would tell a resident voter if asked. There is no Republican challenger, so the winner of the Democratic primary will get the seat.
“If it were clearly a matter of one being great and one being just terrible, I would say so publicly,” Besse said. “They both have their arguments and they both have their strong points.”
Mundy said that he is openly gay, and that if elected, would add to the “diversity and inclusivity” of the council. He said the city has a good record on diversity, but that his being on the council would be a signal that “human relations is more than black and white and men and women.”
On the issues facing the council, he said, “I would be following in Dan Besse’s footsteps.”
“He has a social conscience and social justice guidance in his leadership,” Mundy said, adding that he too has been involved in social justice concerns at his church, Green Street United Methodist Church.
Mundy said he would be helped in office by the wide range of contacts he developed with people and organizations in the years he spent as Hanesbrands’ community relations manager. Mundy, who now works for Leadership Winston-Salem, said he also decided to cut his work schedule back to 20 hours a week, which gives him more time for things like council service.
The city needs to attract “new business and industry, and do it in a way that does not hurt our most vulnerable citizens,” Mundy said. “Some of our development decisions have displaced people from low-income housing. We talk about affordable housing, but we are displacing people who cannot afford affordable housing.”
The same concerns could hit Southwest Ward, he said, “if we are not intentional about development.”
Describing himself as a “free market kind of a guy,” Mundy said that while he would have “gone to bat” to try to preserve Cloverdale Apartments, as Besse did, the city has to also recognize that “private businesses are in business to make money.”
“We have to figure out a way to work with them to make it attractive enough to do it in a way that retains affordable housing.”
“Our zoning rules need to be changed,” he said. “We are trying to eliminate sprawl and create density to afford good public transportation. But we have so many rules and regulations about what you can build ... we are not zoned to do tiny houses and multifamily units in some parts of the city.”
Andree-Bowen calls himself “a huge fan of Council Member Besse.”
“I would say I fall pretty close in line with his policies and ideas,” he said. “I would differ from time to time on things he voted on.”
Andree-Bowen said he would have differed with Besse on one recent zoning case, involving the Truliant Drive connection on Burke Mill Road. There, Andree-Bowen would have postponed action pending the completion of a traffic study. Besse voted to approve the rezoning.
Andree-Bowen said that another thing he would do differently is have open forums once a month in the ward to tell people what is going on with the council, and find out what their concerns are.
Andree-Bowen said his main issue is encouraging economic mobility for everyone.
“I believe we are an amazing city with amazing potential, and I want to make sure that everyone has that potential also,” he said, adding that he supports initiatives such as the mayor’s Think Orange campaign on childhood hunger and the Poverty Thought Force.
“I love that because it is a city initiative that is going to the community, instead of being a top-down initiative,” Andree-Bowen said. “I would like to continue that.” In a similar vein, the city needs to encourage educational initiatives such as the recent one guaranteeing tuition for needy students at Forsyth Technical Community College.
Andree-Bowen said he would like to explore a way to make public transportation free for people riding with the Winston-Salem Transit Authority.
Calling out efforts such as the Shalom Project at the former Budget Inn, and Habitat for Humanity in providing housing, Andree-Bowen said the city should encourage those kinds of efforts “instead of working with the high-end realty companies that are coming in with higher-end apartments.”
Andree-Bowen said the city should find a way to put the Liberty Street market back into use, and find ways to improve expanded food sources. And he’s big on environmental protection.
“I would like to expand renewable energy, and introduce solar panels to some of the municipal buildings and let the city take the charge in this change,” he said.