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ABOUT ERIC ROBERT

WHO IS ERIC ROBERT

Eric Robert (pronounced row-bear) is a swashbuckling figure in downtown Greensboro who has been challenging the status quo for years. He is a robust man with broad shoulders and a wide back. He has long black hair that he wears in a ponytail and a bristling beard to match.

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2Feb 2022
by Yes Weekly

Mr. Downtown

Eric Robert (pronounced row-bear) is a swashbuckling figure in downtown Greensboro who has been challenging the status quo for years. He is a robust man with broad shoulders and a wide back. He has long black hair that he wears in a ponytail and a bristling beard to match.

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2Feb 2022
Media Alert

ERIC ROBERT ANNOUNCES HIS CANDIDACY FOR MAYOR OF GREENSBORO, NC

I have been fortunate to live the American dream. I immigrated to this country from France via Gabon almost 39 years ago and it is clear that America has given me a great deal. Greensboro has enabled me to have the success I could not have experienced anywhere else.

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22Dec 2021
by John Hammer

Eric Robert Announces In An Email He Will Run For Mayor

And now there are three. Eric Robert announced by email on Wednesday, Dec. 22, his intention to run for mayor. He states, “I will be running for Mayor of Greensboro during the next municipal election (whenever that is).”

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1Nov 2013

FAQ

Why are you running for GSO city council and why do you think you are the strongest candidate?

We often hear that Greensboro is successful despite itself… well, I am running for Mayor because I aspire to know what we could become if we pursued being successful on purpose. My definition of a successful city is a little different than most candidates as I aspire to a transparent municipality dedicated to the well-being of all its constituents, not just the few connected ones. I believe in transparency on all level, and I believe that the public must know what all elected officials and all city departments are doing on its behalf… or to them… especially if it is on camera. Too often, our current municipal leaders have promoted a self-serving extreme cronyism, and an elitist environment, devoid of any real point of view or distinct flavor. I can no longer stand by inert and accept the deceptive yet normalized legal maneuvering ignoring the ethical boundaries. In short, too many decisions are currently made outside of the public realm without constituents’ participation. I aspire to Greensboro reaching its full potential and becoming a model other municipalities would want to emulate. To achieve such, Greensboro needs to be sophisticated but not complex, it must comprehend the trends but also have the courage to create new ones. I aspire to a community that listens to the voiceless and re-engages the majority of people who are too busy surviving or being shot to pay attention. I simply believe we, our elders and our children deserve better; I believe we deserve a fresh perspective with evolved points of reference. Our current city leaders are provincial in their behavior, predictable in their decisions and myopic in their perceived “vision”.

What is the difference between you and the other candidates?

I have a unique perspective in that I have aspired to create beautiful, functional environments my entire life, throughout the world. Locally, I have become fluent at taking long abandoned, blighted structures and resuscitating them to become, once again, a vital part of our community. A good example is when I renovated a 15-year abandoned laundry on Lewis St (now Boxcar) igniting one of the coolest little enclaves in our center city. As a small business and property owner, I have invested more money, blood, sweat and tears in our city than most other candidate combined. I have seen first-hand how difficult it is to invest and do business in Greensboro. Unlike the other candidate, I believe City Hall culture must change and most city departments retrained to be reminded that their sole purpose is to serve and facilitate our common evolution. They must offer guidance towards resolution instead of arbitrary rejection. I believe in active citizen's participation in creating legislation and policies. Once again, I want to reaffirm representation for ALL, not just the connected, the partisans and groupies. I believe in individual freedoms, the constitution and all of its 27 Amendments. I believe in small intelligent and educated government, but also in the power of community. Every candidate’s platform seems to include the perpetual issues of public safety, economic development, poverty etc…I doubt any of these issues can be addressed with current players, task force or mindset. So, what makes me different, well I am not a lawyer, or a current politician. I am a Designer, a Creative with an economics degree and an MBA. We all know our city could use a little more creativity in all aspects… not corporate creativity, but pure creativity paired with the willingness to look at paramount problems with a fresh perspective and new players. Unlike the others who have advocated to emulate Chattanooga or Greenville, I believe in Greensboro and that we are cool on our own terms. We are enough!

What, in your opinion, are the largest issues facing GSO as a city?

The basic lack of understanding, perspective and creative thinking are by far our largest issues as they impacts everything we are and all that affects us. They affect housing, poverty, crime, economic growth, public safety, racial relations, homelessness, inequities, and whatever the cause of the day is. We have been plagued with the same issues for decades and most current candidates are hoping to get reelected on the promise that, this time around, they can address these issues. The most our current leadership has been able to accomplish is to blame bars and restaurants for increasing crime rate, all while allocating large amounts of monies to a colleague council members’ and her non-profit to manage an ineffective tax-payers funded program. The lack of educated perspective and creative thinking illustrates our current leadership’s mindset which promotes predictable, mediocre and ineffective results as the methodology and the incestuous players are often recycled and remain the same. It is time to imperatively, address local social issues as part of its economic growth while promoting innovation, compassion and creativity in all initiatives

Since George Floyd’s murder in 2020, many in the community have been calling for police reform. What are your thoughts on police reform, especially given the death of Marcus Deon Smith in 2018?

I am absolutely pro police reform and pro innovative training and curriculum as “defunding the police” is simply not a viable and realistic option. Just like any large entity, there are a lot of solid and great officers on the GPD (some are good friends of mine) including Chief James, and there are some with questionable practices and motives… The latter need to be either removed and replaced. We must also understand that, just like any other profession, we get what we pay for. The current compensation programs for all that risk their lives for us is laughable and greatly contributes to the overall quality of the department. That being said, the police department is part of the municipal government serving at the pleasure of the city manager and the city council. So, just like any other city department, the police needs to be respectful and serve the community they have been hired to protect. Having been handcuffed and assaulted on my own property by three GPD officers and witnessing them enter my building without a warrant or without announcing why they even came on my property to begin with, , I am only too aware of the potential danger represented by even the most mundane of interactions. So, to be truly effective, I would suggest that it should not stop at reforming just the police…we must reform the entire current municipal government currently enabling, ignoring and doubling down on inhuman treatment, and too often disrespectful handling of the constituents. The city attorney’s office, the chief’ s office and the city manager’s office, all must return to what they once were…working for the constituents and actually advocating for the constituents, not against them. The City attorney’s office has not been this bad in a long time. It must revert to what it once was and stop reporting to the city council. It is my opinion that Body Cam should be available immediately to the public as it was exactly how it was presented to the public when, then Chief Ken Miller requested funding during a council presentation. I actually support the idea of a civilian’s oversight board (made up of diverse elected community members, not partisan members to give the illusion that something is being done) to keep everyone accountable. What we must conclude from The Marcus Deon Smith’s death is that our current government lacks compassion and humanity, instead, opting to attempt to justify the unjustifiable and fight what is morally f*&$# up and unwinnable.

In GSO we have a significant immigrant and refugee population. What would you, as mayor, do to improve the quality of life for these communities?

First, I would adopt a zero-tolerance policy on slum lords preying on the less fortunate and weakest ones among us. To make sure we properly deal with repeat offenders, I would insist that the current city attorney’s office no longer loses boxes of evidence. Second, to provide potential solutions, you must first try and understand the issues facing the immigrants and refugee populations. As an immigrant myself, I can attest that most immigrants and refugees often face difficulties due to language and cultural barriers, all compounded by their reduced knowledge of the new cultural environment and new social parameters. This lack familiarity with local “customs” leads to discrimination and exclusion from basic urban infrastructure and services, such as housing, health and employment, resulting in the formation of segregated community clusters. Most current initiatives focus on the inclusion and integration of immigrants and refugees overlooking the effect of their presence on urban infrastructure and services. As Mayor and as a human being, I believe we must be proactive and push for a creative approach to urban planning recognizing the effect immigrants and refugees have on our urban infrastructure services and overall social and economic growth. Focusing on the inclusion and integration of immigrants and refugees is no longer enough. By collectively recognizing the needs of immigrants, refugees and existing constituency, Greensboro can address the challenges faced by all constituents…old and new. When I was in advertising, my team and I tackled the antiquated and offensive concept formally known as “ethnic marketing” aka Multicultural marketing. We developed a new idea…the concept of “Fusion” where you mix different elements to get a new product altogether. The American of today is very different that the American of even 20 years ago. To that end, I believe Fusion Cities can engage all communities (new and existing) to create a greater sense of belonging among immigrants. They will then recognize potential benefits in investing their time, efforts and resources to improve their skills in order to benefit from better opportunities, which will improve their overall quality of life. As Mayor, I believe it is imperative to meet the needs of immigrants and refugees. A good leader must be proactive and accept his role in the integration of immigrants.

There are several universities and colleges in GSO. What initiatives would you implement or push for as mayor to better utilize the strengths at the different higher-education institutions in the city?

I consider Universities, Colleges and Community Colleges one of the main engine of our ongoing growth, and yet, in a city with such a large number of students, we exclude them from the conversations destined to shape policies that will directly affect them, should they decide to stay in the area. Greensboro is facing the same challenges as many other municipalities nationwide such as race relations, increasing crime, increasing poverty, dysfunctional government, inequalities and inequities, workforce development and demographic aging to name a few. Because, these institutions stand at the intersection of information, research and innovation, they can help us shape solid, sustainable and resilient economies and make us more attractive and more inclusive. I personally love the basic fact that they promote the freedom, openness, democracy and equality too often forgotten once off campus. This is not rocket science, as I advocate for genuine diversity in all aspects of our common evolution, students and institutions must be part of all the conversations…not just faculty or staff, but actual students. We have this amazing resource and yet we choose to ignore it as it be too noisy, too rowdy, too militant, too self-centered, too forward thinking and probably too creative. So while I do not have an “initiative” all packaged and ready to go, I think we must start including the higher education institutions and community colleges in all our planning and policy initiatives…maybe even create curriculums specific to assisting Greensboro’s ongoing evolution.

With the new contracts with Boom Supersonic as well as the Toyota megaplant, the city is experiencing a period of tremendous economic growth. How will you work to ensure that that growth and prosperity benefits the wider community?

First, it is important to recognize that if go with “business as usual “ approach, such incredible opportunities could actually further inequalities within our community. Peripheral individuals, jobs, and traditionally underserved neighborhoods will be left behind. So, we must be proactive, now! We must start recruiting, preparing and developing a local community workforce with the targeted labor skills needed. We must start connecting training and jobs to participating individuals. To do all that, we have to improve transportation and connect individuals and communities to training facilities and incoming economic opportunities. In turn such connection will support the greater community when it comes to education wealth and health. For once, we need to have a clear vision for economic growth that will require creativity, infrastructure, workforce, technology and innovation. Inclusive growth moves people and places into the economic mainstream. Even our poorest of citizens can now become valuable participants and contributors. So, we must recognize that it makes economic and political sense to promote economic growth and not just economic development as development benefits the developer while growth lifts the community along with it.

How closely should council work with real estate developers? Do they have the same interests?

Lol, they are often one and the same. Real estate developer, lawyers and associated Pacs represent the largest campaign contributors to most current Mayoral and council candidates. Responsible development by responsible developers can actually be a great asset if done responsibly. Affordable housing does not need to be a ghetto on the outskirts but can be attractive and integrated into the existing landscape. Capitalism, community and responsible development are not mutually exclusive. The issue with some real estate developers, is that they have appointed themselves as taste makers and that they too often have no taste…just money and political influence. I once asked a developer friend why he supported someone like Zack Matheny and he told me ” because he comes cheap and gets me everything I need”. Such access and influence is alarming as some elected leaders forget that their constituency actually includes more than just the 3 or 4 rich guys. When it comes to “development”, the rule of money has overcome civic and community interests stifling Greensboro’s evolution. The recent collusion between non-profit, elected officials and campaign donor/board members developer is concerning. Their collective covert attempt at sabotaging an upcoming Lidl grocery store, benefitting thousands, in a food desert is alarming. It clearly shows that some in our community may have lost their way...maybe even their soul.

What, in your opinion, is Greensboro’s identity as a city?

We are Greensboro, stop changing our name to stupid word combinations just because we landed another manufacturer. For once, let’s articulate a true vision, a clear mission with clear objective for the city that is Greensboro. What changes would we like to see? What are our core values, what is our purpose? How will we gauge our progress? What benchmarks will we put in place to evaluate our performance as a municipality? Our identity as a municipality needs to address evolution, social equity and awareness as part of our economic growth while promoting innovation, compassion and creativity in all initiatives. Greensboro now has a different mandate, multiple diverse audiences and an increased regional responsibility. It is therefore imperative to evolve and refresh Greensboro’s soul. The current elected leaders simply do not have the capcity to understand the true power of a genuine, well thought out branding exercise. I whole heartedly believe that Greensboro has the potential to exceed all expectations by clearly articulating who we are as a community and: -Promoting social unification. -Speaking a genuine language with consistent tone with greater reach. -Moving easily between environments . -Promoting an aspirational community message.

Anything else you’d like to mention?

It is now time for Greensboro to evolve and embrace a new approach based upon a new idea. It will not be easy , but, if must adopted in all facets of municipal government, it will be a true game changer… instead of demographics alone it uses the power of psychographics to govern, create policies and legislate. This new idea speaks to the common needs, wants, fears and desires of constituents whatever their color, religion, race, affluence or ethnicity. It looks into the united future of all constituents while acknowledging their different pasts - not the other way around. This idea can and will create a better government and a better Greensboro. This is a BIG IDEA.