Primaries crowded in south Charlotte districts

Voters deciding this fall’s Charlotte City Council elections will first have to whittle down the crowded Republican field in Ballantyne and SouthPark.

Four Republicans are seeking Andy Dulin’s District 6 seat, which covers the SouthPark area, and three Republicans are after Warren Cooksey’s Ballantyne-area District 7 seat. Bakari Burton, a Democrat running for District 7, will not have to face a primary in September.

The loaded field is only part of a long list of candidates that will change the face of city council this year. Charlotte will have a new mayor and new representatives in District 2, 4, 6 and 7, if not more, as two current council members seek the mayor’s job, two step away and a fifth runs for an at-large opening.

South Charlotte voters will be able to vote on the city’s mayoral race, four at-large seats, Districts 6 and 7 and two Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education seats. The primary election will be held Sept. 10, a Tuesday, and cut the field down to one candidate in each party in the districts and mayoral race, and four candidates in each party in the city council at-large race. A second primary vote will take place Oct. 8, if necessary, and Election Day is Nov. 5.

This week, South Charlotte Weekly is taking a quick look at the candidates in District 6 and District 7. Each candidate was asked the same three questions and responded through email. These are the candidates’ complete, unedited answers. A shortened version ran in last week’s South Charlotte Weekly.

DISTRICT 6
SouthPark Area

Ken Lindholm
Ken.lindholm@yahoo.com
www.electkenlindholm.com

Why are you running?

The opportunity to serve in the community that has been my home for almost 24 years.  I moved from the Washington D.C. area into District 6 in September of 1989 and was told three things by everyone.  “You will lover the people, you will love the weather but the traffic is horrible.”  Everyone was right about the first two but the third is all about perception and that is why, to the people who said that, they are correct.  In my opinion, that statement references the infrastructure of the City and how that will be managed moving forward.  Why will it take until 2015 to fix a storm water drainage pipe that is blocked and it is causing a major mosquito infestation.  Why does the City Council divert funds to professional sports franchises after they tell the community around West Tyvola Road that there is no money available for sidewalks. That is why I am running, to serve and to make decisions for the citizens based on sound judgment of the facts and a view of the long term impacts.

What pertinent experience do you have?

I was a small business owner, developing single family subdivisions in the High Point area where I acquired land, zoned property, installed water and sewer lines, installed sidewalks, negotiated Right-of-Ways and established Homeowners Associations.  I understand what it takes to build communities because I have done it with the future homeowners in mind.  I believe that experience will help me understand the needs of all members of the community.  I understand how decisions made by a City Council can benefit or hurt the future of a community.

What one word best describes your candidacy?

Humble.  It is very humbling when someone says they are going to vote for you or when the contribute time or money to your campaign.  It is an indication that the individual believes in your and wants you to represent them.  The day after last years primary election for District 5 of the County Commission where I came up short, I met with Matthew Ridenhour for lunch.  He asked me if I was taking the day off from my activities after the labor of a campaign.  I told him that even though I lost the election, I still needed to get up in the morning with my daughter, fix her breakfast and lunch and make sure she got off to school on time.  The sun still came up the next day!

Kate Payerle
kate@kateforcouncil.com
www.kateforcouncil.com

Why are you running?
I grew up in Charlotte and see its tremendous potential. To realize that potential, however, we must re-commit to the business-minded principles that drove local government decisions throughout my childhood. I fear that our business-friendly culture is eroding in the last several years, and I’d like to play a part in helping our city re-focus.

What pertinent experience do you have?

I am a business litigation attorney trained to use facts, data, and good judgment to work through politically difficult decisions about how to streamline our budget and create a supportive environment for small business. City Council appointed me to the Citizen Transit Advisory Group and the Privatization and Competition Advisory Committee. Through my work on these committees, I’ve worked closely with city staff and built relationships that will help me to be a good manager on council. Specifically, I’m currently working on a project to save money on maintaining certain transit vehicles.

What one word best describes your candidacy?
Credible.   I’m a fiscally conservative Republican, and my party will likely put me in a minority on next year’s City Council.  I believe fiscal conservatism is a reasonable, prudent philosophy for city government.  But we have seen too many “fist pounding” local politicians diminish the credibility of fiscal conservatism – and that approach gets nothing accomplished. I want to bring credibility back to the Republican party and make the credible case for reducing waste and smart investment so we can re-focus on the business principles that have made Charlotte great!

James Peterson
james@electjamespeterson.com
www.electjamespeterson.com

Why are you running?

I met with an elder gentleman this week and told him that I am running for office to be his next Charlotte City councilman.  His response, why would a nice person like you want to do that? He stated that he would personally rather spend six months in a county jail than six months stuck with our politicians.  I told him that my reason for running was simple.  I believe I can restore faith and trust in government.  I believe I can truly help people.  I told him that while I am in office, I will not be there to represent the big uptown powerbrokers; I will not be there to help out ex-politicians or retired mayors.  The reason I will be there is simply to represent him and the other wonderful families trying to make a life in our beautiful city!

What pertinent experience do you have?

Life experience.  I have an undergraduate degree in technology from UNC Charlotte, a master’s degree in business from Queens University and I have graduated from the Institute of Political Leadership.  I work in our Financial Services industry.  I hold a North Carolina general contractor’s license in addition to a Brokers Sales license.  More importantly, I am an active member or our wonderful Forest Hill church.  The key functions of the city council are managing a budget that exceeds one billion of your dollars, maintaining infrastructure, and guiding growth through real estate zoning/area plans.  These are all pillars of my history.  The foundation though is my faith in God, the belief of family values, and the understanding that people no matter their race, religion, sex, or background are inheritably good.  My experience and my future are in helping them, and helping you.

What one word best describes your candidacy?
Family.  I am the candidate that represents regular people and reflects the family values that many hold close to their hearts.  I am the guy you will see cutting his own grass on the weekends and waving to neighbors as they drive down the street. Other words that are used to describe me are trustworthy, integrity and yes honesty.   I believe what truly sets me apart is the genuine desire to help others through my elected position and not to simply help my own personal career.  Please visit my website to get a better understanding of who I am.  www.ElectJamesPeterson.com
Charlotte is a great city; I am simply going to make it better.

Kenny Smith
Kennysmith123@yahoo.com
www.electkennysmith.com

Why are you running?

I’ve been intrigued by the idea of public service for quite a while and I think fiscally conservative values are underrepresented on the current council.  Frankly, I feel that too many on the council view our tax dollars as their money and my incredibly patient wife finally told me to stop complaining and do something about it!

What pertinent experience do you have?

I got my first glimpse of the importance of the district representative when I served as the president of the Barclay Downs Homeowners Association and worked to keep our neighborhood thriving while preserving its charm and family appeal.  I have also served as an Elder and Deacon at Selwyn Avenue Presbyterian Church, where I gained invaluable experience in working with a group of strong individuals towards a common goal.  In addition, I currently work in commercial real estate where my goal is to find win-win solutions for my clients in the real world…I think our city council could definitely use some more of this philosophy.

What one word best describes your candidacy?

Motivated.  As a life-long Charlottean, I have developed 40 years of friendships across the district. There has been an outpouring of support for my campaign. I am humbled with every yard sign, donation and kind word of encouragement. This drives me and make me WANT to serve the good folks of District 6 even more.  I WANT to field your phone calls, I WANT to work with you so you enjoy living in Charlotte as much as I do and I WANT to help make our community a better place to live.

DISTRICT 7
Ballantyne Area

Bakari Burton
Bakari.burton@gmail.com
www.bakariburton.com

Why are you running?
When considering running for city government, two questions came to mind. One, how can I be a part of the solution and secondly, how will the solutions I am apart of better the quality of life for the citizens of charlotte. District 7 presents some great opportunities such as improving transportation, lower taxes, developing a small business network, and neighborhood development. I have creative solutions that will make a difference in District 7. I want to work together with local business owners and local communities to solve challenges to improve the quality of life in this district.

What pertinent experience do you have?

My professional background in advertising consulting, sales consulting and banking coupled with volunteering on two campaigns (one mayoral and one presidential) has prepared me for this moment. You do not have to be experienced to see opportunities and want to lead the way with solutions. Small business is near and dear to my heart, in my current role I work with businesses both large and small with ensuring work place safety and meeting OSHA compliance requirements. I also have experience with helping out small business with marketing through advertising avenues such as print and internet. Lastly, my banking background afforded me to opportunity to help businesses grow through finding financing options for new equipment and expansion. My father is a small business owner in Greenville, SC so I know firsthand how important small business is to the local community as well as the city. For example my father’s business has survived two generations because of the strength of the customer base, something that has taken years to build. I want to provide small businesses with the resources needed to not only to just survive but to grow their business throughout the city of Charlotte. Creating a small business network within the District that can be modeled throughout the city I believe will strengthen the small business base for the City of Charlotte.

What one word best describes your candidacy?

I am passionate to make a difference here in District 7, passionate to take on the hard issue, passionate to get results, and passionate to lead the way!

 

Ed Driggs
Eddri99@gmail.com
www.eddriggs.com

Why are you running?

Last year I ran for the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners because I believed that high local tax rates were harmful to Charlotte’s economic prospects and unfair to those in the South who pay so much and have little say in how the money is spent.  Since then, we have actually seen increases in City and County tax rates.  The need for accountable local government is greater than ever.  I am now running for City Council with the same goals of trying to uphold fiscal responsibility and defend the interests of the people in my District.
What pertinent experience do you have?
I studied economics at Princeton and Oxford, served as an officer in the U.S. Army, and worked for almost 30 years as a banker and financial analyst.  In the course of my work, I regularly evaluated large, complex financial proposals and negotiated with business leaders.  I have also demonstrated a commitment to public service by serving on boards of organizations such as Communities in Schools and on the President’s Council of Central Piedmont Community College.  I believe my background gives me strong qualifications to ensure that taxpayers’ interests are well represented in the City budget process and when public/private partnership deals are being negotiated.

What one word best describes your candidacy?

Competence.  The two Republican District seats on the next City Council will both be occupied by rookies.  They will have to contend not only with a Democrat majority on the Council, but also with managing the City’s relationship with Raleigh in the wake of the airport controversy.  This is a time for hard skills and strong leadership.  I believe I possess those qualities and look forward to serving District 7.

Jay Privette
jayprivette@reagan.com
www.electjayprivette.com

Why are you running?
I became frustrated with representation of District 7 on the City Council. When Ballentyne was annexed our taxes increased substantially more than our services.  The city continued to raise our taxes and fees, and the primary beneficiaries of wasteful spending were the five uptown wards. I want to give greater voice to the abused taxpayers of South Charlotte.

What pertinent experience do you have?
Several years ago I decided to form a group to investigate how money influences politics in Charlotte. What an eye opener that was!  I have been active on issues involving transportation, government grants, housing, property assessment, transit, corporate incentives and annexation. I regularly attend conservative groups and discussions, was voted vice chairman of the local tea party, have assisted in several campaigns and have addressed governing boards on numerous topics.

What one word best describes your candidacy?

Consistent.  I believe freedom and prosperity are best achieved when the rights of the individual are respected.  I have believed this basic premise since I was a child, and it has been reinforced by lifelong experiences.

Duncan Wilson
Duncan4council@gmail.com
Facebook.com/duncan4council.com

Why are you running?

I believe I can make a difference. Our country and our city only works when people are willing to serve and be involved. I think that when you can do something, you should. I bring a skill set to the table that enables me to look at our budget, look at long term financial consequences, and then help Charlotte achieve its goals in a responsible way. I grew up here and I want to keep Charlotte great.

What pertinent experience do you have?

My education and my career. I have a law degree and an MBA from Wake Forest. My undergraduate is in Political Science from UNC Charlotte, and I’m also a Certified Financial Planner tm . I grew up in our family business, Sterling Financial Group. We focus on helping families and businesses plan their financial lives. I’d like to bring that experience to bear on the City Council. Individuals plan their finances in order to live better lives; why can’t government do the same?

What one word best describes your candidacy?

Outsider. I haven’t run for anything before. I’m a fresh voice with new ideas and new energy to offer.

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