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African American PACs split on candidates for mayor

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Vaughan Perkins

Nancy Vaughan and Robbie Perkins

The city’s two African American-led political action committees are split over who should be the next mayor.

The long-running George C. Simkins Jr. Memorial Political Action Committee endorsed Mayor Robbie Perkins.

Guilford County Community Political Action Committee is backing the challenger, Councilwoman Nancy Vaughan. GCC was formed four years ago by the Rev. Cardes Brown of New Light Missionary Baptist Church.

When he was elected mayor in 2011, Perkins had strong support in largely African American precincts. If GCC’s campaign for Vaughan works, Perkins will need the Simkins’ PAC to work even harder to get supporters to the polls.

Voters will elect nine City Council members, including the mayor, on Nov. 5.

The Simkins PAC was founded more than 50 years ago by Dr. George Simkins Jr., a local dentist, NAACP president and civil rights activist. The group has mailed endorsement letters and given voters rides to the polls on Election Day.

Steve Bowden, the PAC’s chairman, declined to say what the strategy would be this year.

He said the group supports Perkins based on his record.

“The long and short of it is Robbie’s been a friend to the black community ever since he has been elected, both as councilman and as mayor,” Bowden said.

“I want all the endorsements I can get,” Perkins said. “I am very proud of my track record in east Greensboro and in fact in all of Greensboro.”

Bowden said Perkins’ personal issues shouldn’t be a factor. “It’s his personal life, and he is handling it as a man should handle things. We don’t think that should be a disqualifier.”

Perkins got divorced and filed for bankruptcy in the past year. He didn’t return a call on Monday.

In 2009, Simkins PAC member Brown broke with the group and formed the GCC PAC. He questioned whether the candidates the Simkins PAC endorses serve the interests of African Americans.

GCC is made up of 150 local residents who pay $10 a year to participate, committee director Bradley Hunt said.

The group supports Vaughan for her opposition to expanding White Street Landfill, which is located in a largely African American neighborhood.

“Her vote was the deciding vote, and she was sued because of it,” Hunt said. “We felt she stuck out her neck for our community.”

CGG also echoes Vaughan’s opposition to settling the discrimination lawsuits brought by city police officers, Hunt said. Vaughan said the city spent millions to defend the cases, so it should take them to court.

“We want to know what happened and if the city is as fault,” Hunt said.

Vaughan said she isn’t depending on endorsements, although she thinks it could help her.

“I think I’ve got the record to justify people supporting me,” she said.

GCC has laid out an aggressive election strategy. Hunt said the group sent 15,000 endorsement mailers targeted at likely voters. Members will hand out fliers in parking lots of 100 local churches and have workers at the polls.

Contact Amanda Lehmert at (336) 373-7075, and follow @alehmert on Twitter.


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