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Primary endorsed by the Winston-Salem Journal

Primary endorsed by The Chronicle

South Ward Campaign Endorsements 

Brian Allison
Cornelia Barr
Bill Benton
Bill Blancato
Bob and Louise Campbell
Carol Faley
Diana Gray
William Hoyt
Carroll Leggett
Barry Lyons and Mike Anthony
Leslie and
Michael Kamtman
Robbie King
Molly Leight
Kim Mitchell
Kristin O’Leary
Patricia Olmstead
Kevin Mundy and Michael Isley
Mike Ray
Billy Rich
Milton Rhodes
Sandy Seeber
Cynthia Norwood Skinner
Brandon and Melissa Vickers
Mike Wakeford
Maribeth Weinman
Charles and Anne Wilson

Letters of Support to Winston-Salem Journal and The Chronicle:

Friday, March 11

JUDITH RUFF, Winston-Salem

A visionary

My family has lived in West Salem for over 200 years. We have always believed in preservation of land, houses and buildings. This is only one of the reasons I will be casting my vote for John Larson for Winston-Salem City Council for the South Ward.

John is also a visionary. Working with the Southeast Gateway Plan and the Creative Corridors Coalition to further beautify and enhance our great city, he is dedicated to bringing all up to date. But his most important attribute is his interest in the people and his willingness to listen to their concerns about the neighborhoods in which they live.

Being with Old Salem for 40 years is a testament that John Larson is in it for the long haul in whatever he becomes involved with. If you want a person who is a hard worker, interested in what you have to say, compassionate and a go-getter, vote for John Larson for South Ward City Council.

LISE KEPPLER, Winston-Salem

Deep roots

In the South Ward, two candidates are vying for the Winston-Salem City Council. One, Carolyn Highsmith, has name recognition for her focus on fear of crime. I live in that neighborhood, and we are not a hotbed of violence, we are a community of strong families with solid values, vibrant houses of worship, independent businesses, and much more.

Fear inflames distrust and isolation, not development and success. We need a representative who sees all that and recognizes both the needs and the strengths in the entire South Ward, not just one issue in one neighborhood.

John Larson has deep roots in Winston-Salem. He understands the history that has led us to where we are and envisions ways to meet the needs of the future. Larson stands for improving the economic vitality, safety and social richness of the area. He recognizes the opportunities and challenges we have ahead of us and is ready to take them on.

Don’t give in to fear. Vote for nurturing the bonds of good neighbors, for building a thriving community, for empowering our voice in the city of Winston-Salem on all levels. I encourage my neighbors to vote for John Larson for the South Ward.

Thursday, March 10

KRISTIN M. O’LEARY, Winston-Salem

He wants to help

I reached out to John Larson, since he is running for the Winston-Salem City Council and would represent the South Ward, where I work for the YWCA. I run a women’s substance abuse recovery facility for women that is the only state licensed facility of its kind in Forsyth County and the surrounding area.

I wanted John Larson to understand the great need to expand our program to allow us to serve a larger quantity of women. He was immediately interested in what I do and what he could do to help. He spent two hours with me and drove me around, asking if I would mind showing him where other facilities were that assisted us in making the program a success and also asking how he could help. We found some sites together and his desire to help me was one that could make a huge difference in our South Ward. I want it known that I support John Larson and his efforts.

(O’Leary is the vice president of Supportive Services for the YWCA Hawley House & Project New Start.)

Wednesday, March 9

CHERYL HARRY, Winston-Salem
The ideal person

I heartily endorse John Larson for Winston-Salem council member for the South Ward. The St. Philips Heritage Center, a touchstone of Winston-Salem’s early African American history, lies in the South Ward. John’s work on the restoration of the St. Philips site in Old Salem, bears witness to his commitment to community and his dedication to the preservation of all of our city’s history.
St. Philips is not where the story ends, and that is why I most admire John Larson, because of his ability to see the big picture and the value of inclusiveness. He stated in a 1994 article, Architecture and The Preservation of Memory, “What are the vessels we shall carry forward to remind us of ourselves and our past? Which memories are we to discard? To what degree do we simplify the realities of the past and remember only what is convenient and comfortable? ... and just whose memories are to be saved.”
John Larson is not afraid to take on tough issues and roll up his sleeves and work where needed. There is a lot more work to be done in our city that will take the combined efforts of our city officials. John Larson is a methodical thinker and a team player who will bring his vast experience and skills to the table and work with an already committed city council for the betterment of Winston-Salem.
I believe John Larson is the ideal person to serve the South Ward as its Council Member.

(Harry is the director of African American Programming at Old Salem Museums & Gardens.)

Tuesday, March 8


Excellent qualifications

When I select a candidate to represent the South Ward on the Winston-Salem City Council, I’ll be voting for John Larson. John’s qualifications are exemplary; a resident of Winston-Salem for 40 years, his long career at Old Salem has equipped him with an unparalleled understanding of the city’s past, while his engagement with organizations like the Creative Corridors Coalition speak to his commitment to meeting the challenges and seizing the opportunities that the future will bring.
The South Ward is a complicated place, divided by major arteries that sometimes separate it into different constituencies with different concerns. But spend even a moment with John, and you’ll know of his keen interest in both protecting and fortifying the ward’s unique neighborhoods, while also uniting them into a more integrated, livable and sustainable urban fabric.
John’s generosity of spirit, his willingness to listen to differing opinions and deliberate for the public good and his capacity to see the South Ward as a whole make him the right person to help lead this city forward. A vote for John Larson on March 15 is a vote for a better future for all of Winston-Salem!

LAURA A.W. PHILLIPS, Winston-Salem

A strong commitment

John Larson was one of the first people I met when I moved to Winston-Salem nearly 40 years ago. At that time he was an intern in the restoration department at Old Salem. Now he is preparing to retire at the end of 2016 from his position as vice-president at that institution.
Through the years, John has remained a close friend, and I have had the opportunity to see and appreciate the development of his many talents. Among them, I find him to be hard working, tenacious, generous of his time and articulate in his speech.
In his life’s work, John has demonstrated his strong commitment to historic preservation, not only in Winston-Salem, but also at the state and national levels. In this field, he has been a tireless worker and an able leader. But John understands that historic preservation is not just about preserving buildings, but also about preserving neighborhoods and making them better places in which to live.
John’s concerns for Winston-Salem extend far beyond the bounds of Old Salem and historic preservation to other areas of city life, whether it be through his work with the Creative Corridors Coalition, cleaning trash out of local streams, or any of the other local efforts in which he has participated. In short, John is committed to making Winston-Salem a better place for all citizens. I can think of no better person to represent the South Ward. I hope you will join me in voting for him March 15.

Monday, February 29

DOUG LEWIS, Winston-Salem

Ready to serve

Soon, voters in the South Ward will choose their Democratic Party candidate for Winston-Salem City Council. My vote will be for John Larson.
Beyond his 40-year career at Old Salem helping preserve the historic heart of our community, he has long volunteered in efforts to create better prospects for neighborhoods and the broad community.
For example, as a volunteer, he co-wrote the Southeast Gateway Plan, adopted in April 1992 by the board of aldermen (now city council) as official guidelines for an area from Winston-Salem State University to Peters Creek Parkway, from downtown to the UNC School of the Arts and beyond. The 99 recommendations covered parks, pedestrian paths, roads, bridges, public transportation, development opportunities, land use, appearance and community interaction. Many of the improvements seen in that area today can be traced to that plan.
He current serves on the board of Creative Corridors Coalition, another transformative, grass-roots effort to enhance Winston-Salem’s future.
John’s interest in such matters is long, broad and deep. He is thoughtful, articulate, open-minded and reliable. Retiring from Old Salem this December, he will be ready to serve the South Ward and the city as a strong member of the city council.
Please show your support by voting for John Larson on March 15.

Sunday, February 28

BRIAN L. ALLISON, Winston-Salem

Stronger, healthier neighborhoods

As a long-term engaged resident in the South Ward, I strongly support and endorse John Larson for Winston-Salem City Council. John Larson has a long history at Old Salem and understands the significance of preservation. Preservation translates into advocating the integrity of neighborhoods in south Winston-Salem and throughout the entire city.

Having strong, healthy neighborhoods are paramount quality-of-life issues. Careful planning prevents uncontrolled commercial sprawl encroaching into residential neighborhoods causing increased unnecessary traffic, potential crime and lower property values.

John Larson is a voice of reason, community oriented, listens to constituents’ concerns, does not talk over people, does not create divisiveness, unites people together and is committed to ensuring that together, we grow a vibrant, enhanced, livable community for all citizens.

John Larson cares that quality growth with diverse industry occurs in Winston-Salem with good paying jobs created. John Larson is available, approachable and genuinely interested that all voices are heard and valued without putting political ambition above our neighborhoods.

For protecting stronger, healthier neighborhoods, please vote John Larson for Winston-Salem City Council (South Ward) in the March 15 primary.


Highly qualified

I’d like to encourage everyone to support John Larson for the South Ward seat on the Winston-Salem City Council. Sorry as we all are to see Molly Leight retire, I am thrilled that her replacement will be someone so highly qualified by his professional and civic experience as well as his personal commitment, as a 40-year resident of South Ward, to the quality of life in Winston-Salem.

His years at Old Salem, from which he will retire in December, perfectly prepare him to serve on the council. Currently on the board of the Creative Corridors Coalition, John has long been involved with efforts to strengthen neighborhoods. Winston-Salem will benefit from John’s expertise and energy and his wide knowledge of the city. I hope you will join me in voting for John.

Thursday, February 25

R. ARTHUR SPAUGH, Winston-Salem

Determination and cheer

In 1976, John Larson attended the Summer Institute of MESDA (Museum of Southern Decorative Art) in Old Salem. A student at University of South Carolina, he wanted to learn more about decorative arts and historic restoration. At the time Old Salem Inc. was involved in a capital campaign to reconstruct the 1771 Single Brothers Work Shop as a learning center, restore the 1802 home and apothecary of Dr. Samuel Benjamin Vierling as a house museum, restore 1827 Schultz Shoemakers Shop, restore 1827 Hall House as a private residence plus other projects. The director of restoration at Old Salem, Inc. needed an assistant. With his determination and cheerful personality, John was hired.

Now 40 years later, the vice-president of restoration at Old Salem Museums & Gardens is still serving Old Salem, our community and state in the areas of historic restoration and management. With retirement in sight, he is seeking to share his talents and skills as representative of South Ward to the Winston-Salem City Council. Although interested in history, he has been part of the city’s forward thinking as plans are being made for the future. His hard work and ability to speak on his feet and see the big picture makes him well qualified to represent the South Ward. Having brought him to the staff, I am pleased he has made such a contribution.

Vote for John C. Larson for someone with a strong commitment to the future of our city.

Spaugh is a former president of Old Salem, Inc. & Old Salem Enterprise. — the editor

Thursday, February 23

LEE FRENCH, Winston-Salem

Lucky to have Larson

I was so pleased to see that John Larson had filed to run for the Winston-Salem City Council seat being vacated by Molly Leight in the South Ward. Molly served the city and her constituents well during her tenure; I am confident that John will be an excellent council member to succeed her. I heartily endorse John for many reasons.
I worked with John at Old Salem Museums & Gardens for six years (2006 — 2012) during my time as president and CEO. John Larson is a hard-working guy. He is man with a great deal of intellectual capacity for solving complex issues. His contributions, over decades of dedicated service, range from scholarly matters to tough negotiations with contractors to being a regular presence working with public officials. He is much admired as a manager and leader.
As a teammate, John possessed a nice balance of big-picture thinking and big ideas to go with tremendous attention to detail in his responsibilities for the entire physical plant that is Old Salem. He builds consensus, yet he is not afraid to cut against the grain for things he believes in. And he certainly has had to work with tight budgets over the years. He is dedicated to the entire community and has been a thoughtful resource and supporter of the Creative Corridors Coalition for 10 years.
South Ward residents are lucky to have John in the mix. I, for one, will be thrilled to see him take a seat on our city council.

Sunday, February 14


Will serve with distinction

When my wife, Anne, and I decided to downsize and move to a dwelling and community well suited for retirees, a townhouse one block from Old Salem won hands down. We have always considered Old Salem a Winston-Salem treasure, and we learned that one of the people deserving much credit for this treasure is John Larson, vice president for Restoration of Old Salem Museums and Gardens.

We are so pleased that John is a candidate for the Winston-Salem City Council. He will now be able to employ the vision, expertise and creative energy that served him so well at Old Salem in service of the citizens of the South Ward. John is a 40-year resident of the ward and has pride in and high aspirations for his community.

One of his incomparable qualifications for the city council is a working knowledge of the functions, policies and procedures of city government that was honed in his career as a key figure in the development of Old Salem. John will be an asset to the council on day one, and his learning curve will be minimal.

John’s contributions to the community have extended beyond his professional responsibilities. His involvement in citywide ventures include the board of the Creative Corridors Coalition, member of Southeast/Gateway planning team, past chair of the Historic Properties Commission and past board member of Keep Winston-Salem Beautiful.

A vote for John Larson will be a vote for a proven leader who will serve our community with distinction.

Monday, February 8

MOLLY LEIGHT, Winston-Salem

Must be Larson

Who do I want for my South Ward, Winston-Salem City Council member?
Perhaps it is someone who pulls on boots, rolls up sleeves and digs in, not just wildly but with academic and intellectual resources to support action. Perhaps it is someone who has served his country as a U.S. Army captain; who has dedicated his life to historic preservation, be it his own house, the village of Old Salem or Forsyth County as he served on Preserve Historic Forsyth; who has championed the preservation of African American heritage through rebuilding of the first St. Philips Church and preservation of the second brick church and the historic Lloyd Presbyterian Church; who has preserved the environment, boots on, to start creek cleanup and creek restoration and served on Keep Winston-Salem Beautiful; who has dedicated himself to reconnecting a city divided by highways and byways by serving on the Gateway planning committee, which set the stage for the Salem Creek connector and the Salem Bypass roundabout; and has served on the Creative Corridors Coalition for Winston-Salem.

Who do I want for my South Ward Council Member? It must be John Larson!

Leight, the current South Ward representative, is not running for re-election.
— the editor, WS Journal

From Current South Ward Council Member Molly Leight:

I wanted to let you know that I will be retiring from City Council at the end of 2016. I am excited about that because it will give me time for a new career! I will still be heavily involved in my city, especially through the Winston-Salem Neighborhood Alliance.

The most exciting news is that John Larson will be filing to run for the South Ward Council seat! I cannot think of a smarter, more dedicated person to the things that I and you, my constituents, hold dear: a passion for protection, and safety, of neighborhoods; a belief that our history is also our future, so we must protect and preserve it; a love of the arts and the natural environment that fuel the quality of life in Winston-Salem.

John Larson is the retiring V.P. of architecture in Old Salem. He has been active in the Business-40 and Creative Corridor process and is a nationally known expert in historic preservation. I recommend John to you with great enthusiasm!