The Greensboro City Council opened session on Jan. 9, 2018, in what many dub a “town-hall style” meeting. In previous meetings, individuals had only three minutes to address the council regarding non-agenda issues and were able to do so twice a month. Now, the council only allows for it to be done once per month, but allows citizen speakers to do so for five minutes rather than only three.
Generally, this change has seemed to make speakers happy, as it gives them a larger chunk of time to express themselves on the issues which matter most to them.
“It seemed more intimate. Everybody got to address their issues. Not to just address it and be rushed, but they were able to address and you were able to feel what they were saying,” said Joshua Garrett, Greensboro resident.
Council members also agree that this allows for a better opportunity to converse with their civilian counterparts. “It was nice to be able to have conversation with speakers without worrying about the business agenda being delayed,” said Mayor Nancy Vaughan.
Another significant change the council made from 2017 to 2018 involved changing their meeting times from semi-monthly to weekly; the council will meet every Tuesday.
After elections took place in November of 2017, the council roster changed and now includes: Nancy Vaughan, Mayor; Yvonne J. Johnson, Mayor Pro Tem; Marikay Abuzuaiter, At-Large; Michelle Kennedy, At-Large; Sharon Hightower, District 1; Goldie F. Wells, District 2; Justin Outling, District 3; Nancy Hoffmann, District 4; and Tammi Thurm, District 5. Kennedy, Wells, and Thurm are all new members to the roster, having beaten their incumbents.
One of the most heavily-discussed topics on the agenda during the meeting was the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), often referred to as the Dream Act. “It’s time for us to say to the Dreamers in Greensboro, ‘We see you. We value you. We will defend you and work with you,’” stated Reverend Julie Peeples, another concerned citizen in Greensboro.
Saul Rodriguez, a Dreamer and a Bonner Scholar at Guildford College was another Greensboro citizen to address the council.
“Once DACA expires, I might not be able to continue college.” stated Rodriguez. He also strongly advised the city council to pass its own version of the Dream Act, and sustain funding to keep it alive.
The council will take definitive action regarding the Dream Act during the next meeting.