The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Joel Landau, district 4 council candidate, meets with students

On Oct. 1, Greensboro City Council candidate Joel Landau met with a small group of Guilford Democrats in the Greenleaf Coffee Cooperative to discuss his campaign. Landau, who has previously run for Council as an at large candidate, is running in District 4. The district includes all students living on campus as well as the Legacy apartments and Madison Woods apartments which are popular with students. As the general manager of Deep Roots Market and co-chair of the Greensboro Community Sustainability Council (GCSC), Landau has built a name for himself as a progressive, well known name in City politics. Endorsing him last week, YES! Weekly wrote that “Landau ‘owns’ sustainability . In short, we love Joel Landau.”

“I had a feeling he would be more relatable than most candidates to our student body,” said Alex Knox, Vice President of the Guilford College Democrats, explaining why Landau was invited to campus.

Landau spoke with students last week before clearing the October 6 primary. Students asked questions about the controversial White Street Landfill, the local Raise the Wage Campaign, public safety, and a number of questions around sustainability.

The White Street Landfill, located in District 2, was so unpopular with local residents that City Council upheld their promise to close it in 2006. Recently, District 4 representative Mike Barber proposed reopening it to household waste in order to save the City money.

Senior Alyzza Callahan, who was at the meeting, expressed her opposition to reopening the landfill and brought up concerns of environmental racism.

“The widespread psychological damage of calling ones home a dump is present,” Callahan later told the Guilfordian. “Environmental risks then translate into health risks of the people living there, from increased asthma rates, and cancer rates, then factors like insurance and medical coverage arise creating a chain affect of systemic oppression.”

Landau suggests there are alternatives that would keep the landfill closed and cut back on cost, such as cutting back on waste creation.

“We could reduce our waste in half,” Landau said to students last week describing how an incentive-based recycling program would reduce City costs and waste production. Landau co-chairs a subcommittee on the GCSC on waste reduction and recycling.

When asked about his position on the Raise the Wage Campaign (RtWC), an effort to raise the City’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.82, Landau said, “There are so many question marks about the affect it would have on the City.” He went on to say that he supports raising the minimum wage but suggests a more incremental increase, beginning with $7.95. The RtWC is pushing for $9.82 because it is the equivalent to the purchasing power of minimum wage forty years ago.

The Greensboro News & Record recently published candidates’ responses to a questionnaire, including a question asking candidates what they’d like to ask their opponent. Landau’s opponent and current at-large representative Mary Rakestraw asked why Landau removed the name of a supporter from his website, whom she criticized for being involved in the Communist Workers Party (CWP) in the late 1970s.

“It’s despicable,” Landau said. “This is what people do when they don’t have issues to talk about.”

He explained that, with the knowledge of the supporter, he removed her name a months ago in order to avoid public controversy and focus on his campaign issues instead. Some people, even his supporters, take issue with his decision and cite the need to address the Greensboro Massacre of 1979, when five people associated with the CWP were killed by KKK and American Nazi Party members. In 1985, The Greensboro Police Department was also found liable in the deaths in a court case years later.

“I think that his choice to remove her name is a reflection of the influence that I feel like the dominant culture in Greensboro has on him, and just the fact that he has to remove her name says that [the Greensboro Massacre]’s still an issue that needs to be talked about,” said first-year James Lamar Gibson in an interview. “Compared to Mary Rakestraw he’s exactly what we need. I’ll take him over her,” he continued.

Like Gibson, many students are supported Landau for Greensboro City Council in early voting and the primary, but the outcome of the general election on November 3 remains to be seen. Some students who voted in District 4 admitted they knew little about Landau and his platform, suggesting that many students are not fully aware of the election process happening around them.

“I don’t even know who he is. I was mainly concerned with voting for an at large candidate,” said junior Matt Gaye, who cast his ballot in early voting for the primary.

The general election for City Council is November 3, and early voting will be available at the Board of Elections at 301 West Market Street from October 17 until October 30. Voters will decide who represents their district and the City at large on City Council as well as the Mayor. Two candidates are competing for District 4 and six candidates are seeking one of the three at large positions on City Council.

Landau and Rakestraw beat the two other district candidates on October 6. Landau received 1172 votes, or 35.32% of the vote while 1631 voted for Rakestraw giving her 49.16% of the vote. Given that only a few hundred votes separated them in the primary, the general election is certainly up for grabs.

“We will continue to campaign with the ultimate goal of bringing attention of local politics and issues to the student body,” Knox said.

Voters who missed the primary election as well as those who already cast their ballot will have a chance to vote. Voters who need to register to vote or change their registration information can do so at one stop early voting but not on November 3. Registered voters should receive a card in the mail from the Board of Elections with information about which precinct to vote in.

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