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Will Barrow Distinguish Herself from Smith?

D1 Candidates Debate Saturday

by Dennis Mitchell, Election Correspondent
and Lisa Ellison, Editor

The first debate in our City Council Debate Series, co-sponsored by the Minority Voice, is coming up fast—Saturday morning, actually.

District 1, one of two “majority minority” districts in the city, is comprised largely of Greenville north of the Tar River, an area desperate to increase the availability of services, amenities and jobs. There has been some investment over the last few years: positive, albeit sluggish signs of growth.

Barrow and Smith

Patrice Barrow and Kandie Smith. Photos from the Board of Elections Facebook page.

Kandie Smith, first elected in 2009, is seeking her fourth term. Patrice Barrow, a relative unknown, is challenging Smith. Crime, airport-related concerns, stormwater-drainage issues, affordable housing and high utility bills are key concerns of D1 residents.

After defeating 22-year incumbent Mildred Council by 10 votes, Smith ran unopposed in 2011, then won overwhelmingly (with a margin of 40 percent of votes cast) in 2013. She is popular in her district for being highly responsive to constituents and a strong advocate for their interests. But Smith’s no-nonsense, straightforward approach can rub some people the wrong way, especially those who disagree with her.

Smith is employed as a business training consultant. Though her work involves travel, she has never missed a council meeting due to the demands of her job, except for one meeting that was tentatively cancelled and later re-inserted on the calendar. In addition to the training job, Smith works as substitute teacher in the Pitt County Schools.

Barrow is a staff member of East Carolina University’s Department of Occupational Therapy. We found no record of Barrow’s involvement at any professional or civic level. According to the Board of Elections voter database, she has voted in one municipal election, in 2013. During a September 2 interview on a local television program, Greenville Grit, Barrow said she is from Greenville and has lived here since 1997. She gave no direct reason why she is challenging Smith, simply saying, “a new voice is a welcome voice” and she brings “hope” and “change.”

Voters in D1, the city’s most economically depressed district, need strong representation and will be looking for help to decrease crime and bring more resources to the area. Smith is seen as a very active and forceful representative. In order for Barrow to unseat Smith, she’ll need to show where Smith’s performance has been lacking and how she would do better.

The 2013 election saw nearly every contested district decided by one or two percentage points, except for Smith, who decisively won 1000 votes to her opponent’s 423. This would indicate that Smith’s re-election seems all but assured.

Of course, one never knows—that’s why we vote. Come out and hear the candidates themselves, as they talk about the issues Saturday morning. Mark your calendar now.

Date: This Saturday, September 12
Time: 10:30 a.m.
Place: Council Chambers in City Hall (3rd floor, 200 W. 5th Street)

Can’t make it to council chambers? Catch a live video stream right here at the Guardian site. GPAT will replay the debate throughout the campaign as well.

If there’s a question you’d like considered for the debate, leave it as a comment below or email it to the editor.

One Response

  1. Ann Maxwell says:

    I am submitting a question for the debate. Will you honor the work of the Horizons 2016 Committee by approving the plan without modifications? Will you continue to honor the plan rather than voting with developers who have financial incentives rather than long term goals for the city?

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