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Who is Hugh Holston? Meet Greensboro City Council's newest member.
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Who is Hugh Holston? Meet Greensboro City Council's newest member.

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GREENSBORO — Hugh Holston is a newcomer to politics, but in many ways he’s an experienced insider.

And next week, he’ll become the newest member of the City Council.

Holston, who currently serves as chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission, was unanimously appointed Tuesday by council to fill a seat vacated when at-large Councilwoman Michelle Kennedy resigned in August.

Holston was one of 47 people who applied for the position through a public process. On Tuesday, 20 of those applicants chose to address council for three minutes during a virtual meeting to choose Kennedy’s successor.

In his presentation, Holston spotlighted his service on a wide range of community boards, service to the city and his professional work with Lincoln Financial, AT&T and Wells Fargo.

Holston said in his presentation: “I’m committed to representing everyone. I’m committed to having a voice. And I’m also committed to respecting the voices of others. I’m also committed to communicating and collaborating with my fellow council members and also with the constituents for the greater good.”

What could have been an unwieldy process to select Kennedy’s replacement proceeded smoothly Tuesday night as Mayor Nancy Vaughan moved swiftly through the three-minute presentations of all 20.

The highest-profile candidate, former Councilman Mike Barber, led off the speakers in alphabetical order. He was the only person among those who appeared Tuesday to have served on council. His last term ended in 2017 when he was narrowly defeated by Kennedy for the at-large seat.

T. Dianne Bellamy-Small, who is a sitting member of the Guilford County Board of Education and former council member, had applied as a candidate but did not appear Tuesday because of a conflict.

Barber cited his experience and his ability to join council with little on-the-job training. An attorney and leader of a nonprofit, Barber told council members he remains an active community leader and continues relationships with city staff members.

“There will be little to no learning curve and I feel I can be an effective team member immediately,” he said.

Others who appeared before council included two current candidates in the upcoming election: Tracy Furman and Katie Rossabi.

And Hester Petty, who regularly speaks at public forum periods during council meetings, also spoke as an applicant for the seat.

In the end, only two names came up when it was time to nominate and vote on the next council member.

Councilwoman Sharon Hightower first nominated Gerry McCants. McCants, who had spoke earlier to council, touted his experience with minority business causes and community service, including leadership roles at Piedmont Business Capital, former chairman and member of the City of Greensboro MWBE Committee and co-chairman and co-founder of the Greensboro Business League.

But only Hightower and Mayor Pro Tem Yvonne Johnson voted in favor of McCants among eight council members.

Councilwoman Goldie Wells then nominated Holston.

With little discussion, council voted unanimously to select him for the seat.

“Wow, I’m so thankful,” Holston said. “I want to thank you for entrusting me with the confidence to serve with you as we set out to ensure that Greensboro is and remains the best place to live.”

Holston becomes the second man currently serving on council and its fifth Black member.

Holston will chair the Monday meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission and will then resign and join City Council on Tuesday, when he will be sworn in at the next meeting.

“So, Mr. Holston, you’ll have a busy week next week,” Vaughan said.

Contact Richard M. Barron at 336-373-7371 and follow @BarronBizNR on Twitter.

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