The last time Mayor Allen Joines faced opposition at the polls, the Reagans were in the White House. Not really — it just seems that long.
Again, this election cycle, the mayor faces no opposition. Again, not really. It just seems that way.
The city’s top elected official since 2001, Joines has become as synonymous with Winston-Salem as doughnuts and the hyphen. He relishes his role as city spokesman and cheerleader and has become a whiz at leveraging those duties to benefit the masses. We figure that so few — both Democrats and Republicans — have been so reluctant to challenge Joines because they know that no one can do what he does as well as he does it.
He’s more than a smiling face and walking/talking handshake, roles that are easy for mayors of council/city manager-run municipalities to fall into to. His years as mayor and the decades he spent in city administration before he was elected have earned him respect, and respect engenders influence, especially in a Southern city like Winston-Salem.
Although it is our desire for Joines to use more of that influence to illuminate East Winston, minority communities have not been an afterthought in his administration as they were under previous mayors and remain under a number of current area elected officials. He has made inclusion a key cornerstone of his leadership and has urged others, including local corporate leaders, to follow suit.
This is not one of those election cycles where Joines will sweep into another term unopposed. Democrat Gardenia Henley is his primary challenger. She is quick to tout her experience as a former U.S. State Department auditor.
“I know the faces of corruption all too well both in Winston-Salem, N.C., nationally and internationally,” she states in her most recent “Henley Report,” a series of documents she has churned out over the last few years to, according to her, expose local corruption. We say the reports are mud-smeared fluff — a gimmick for candidates without a real or clear agenda. We suggest that Ms. Henley take a much needed break from campaigning (she has seemingly run for everything except the Soil and Water Conservation Board) and get her hands dirty in good ol’ grassroots community endeavors. While throwing around the title of diplomat may generate a few oohs and aahs and a question or two from the curious, local service and good deeds win local elections.
A Republican is also running for mayor, but he doesn’t warrant a mention by name. While we respect our Democratic process, we would not be terribly upset if some folks were banned from seeking office ever again.