Politics
11:55 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Vaughan Defeats Perkins for Greensboro Mayor, 2 Newcomers Join Council

Nancy Vaughan smiles as she watches election returns with her husband Don after polls closed Tuesday.
Nancy Vaughan smiles as she watches election returns with her husband Don after polls closed Tuesday.
Credit WFDD Photo by Paul Garber

GREENSBORO - City councilwoman Nancy Vaughan defeated incumbent Robbie Perkins to become the next mayor of Greensboro. Vaughan, who also finished ahead of Perkins in the Oct. 8 primary, won handily Tuesday, with 59 percent of the vote, compared to 40 percent for Perkins.

Perkins was elected mayor in 2011, defeating then-mayor Bill Knight. But his campaign has been plagued by reports of his financial and marital problems. Vaughan said hard work since the primary paid off, and credited organization as the key to her victory.

“I think it was just the ground game and getting out and working the different neighborhoods and precincts, I think that's probably what made the difference," she said.

Vaughan said now that she's won she and the council will turn their attention to job creation and dealing with some of the council's unfinished business.

“We still have to move forward on the performing arts center, the Bessemer shopping center – we’re kind of starting over with, and we have two new proposals - so those are things that will be hard priority items," Vaughan said.

Perkins hugged Vaughan when the outcome became clear. He said his two years as mayor were an unusually busy time for the city government. During that time, the city hired a new manager and new attorney, and launched the effort for the $65 million performing arts center, among other projects. Perkins said had no regrets about how he ran his campaign.

“I’ve given 100 percent and I’m not looking back with any regret on anything I’ve done for the city of Greensboro the last two years,” he said.

Vaughan's win marks the third time in as many elections that city voters have chosen the challenger over the incumbent in the mayor's race.

In the city council races, Greensboro voters added two newcomers but otherwise kept the body largely intact Tuesday. In one of election night's bigger surprises, challenger Jamal Fox defeated two-term incumbent Jim Kee, 51 to 49 percent, for the District 2 seat. In District 1, newcomer Sharon Hightower defeated five-term councilwoman T. Dianne Bellamy-Small. The margin was just 15 votes. Former councilman Mike Barber won an at-large seat to replace Nancy Vaughan, who was elected mayor.

Yvonne Johnson was among the remaining council members who retained their seats. Johnson said the loss of two incumbents showed that some voters were frustrated with their candidates. She said now that voters have had their say, the council can turn its attention to job creation in the city.

The new council will be sworn in Dec. 3. Guilford voters turned out in fewer numbers this year than in 2011. The voter turnout two years ago was about 20 percent. On Tuesday, more 32,000 votes were cast out of 223,000 eligible voters, for a turnout of just under 17 percent.