South Charlotte will have two new reps

With Ballantyne-area representative Warren Cooksey announcing this week he wouldn’t seek a fourth term on Charlotte City Council, the south Charlotte area will lose both its long-time advocates in city government when the new council is seated Dec. 2.

Andy Dulin, who represents the SouthPark area on council, announced he wouldn’t run again earlier this year. The two, both Republicans, were the lone votes against this year’s 3.17-cent tax increase and led the push against raising taxes last year.

Cooksey, in an email, said he felt the time was right to step down.

“… It’s time to let the voters choose someone else to have that opportunity,” Cooksey said of representing south Charlotte. “It’s good to have a sense of balance in life, and I need to focus on personal and professional goals for a while.”

“I have thoroughly enjoyed advocating conservative approaches to city issues,” Cooksey continued in his announcement. “I hope the next council member from District 7 also seeks to work with other council members to do what is best for all of Charlotte.”

The announcement echoed thoughts Cooksey expressed in an interview last month with South Charlotte Weekly, where he discussed what candidates for city government should focus on.

“Charlotte is a very large city both in population and in geography,” Cooksey said on June 26, prior to announcing his decision not to run. “Figuring out what policies are best for the entire city is no easy task, and it requires understanding the many points of view that exist across the city. To the extent I’ve been successful as a council member, it has been by demonstrating that the policies I advocate are good for the city as a whole, not just one part of it. Anyone who seeks to serve in elected office to benefit just one part of the city should instead seek to lead an advocacy group.”

Cooksey and Dulin’s departures will create a void in Republican leadership on a council where they are the sole conservative voice. As of press deadline this week, five Republican candidates and no Democrats had filed for the two seats. Both are in areas with a heavy Republican Party registration lead.

James Peterson, who received 157,646 votes but failed in his bid to become a Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners at-large representative in 2002, and Kenny Smith, a life-long Charlotte resident and former Barclay Downs Homeowners Association president, have filed to run for Dulin’s District 6 seat.

Ed Driggs, who failed in his attempt to unseat Commissioner Bill James in last year’s Republican primary, Jay Privette, who failed in his attempt to unseat Cooksey in the 2011 Republican primary, and Duncan Wilson, a Charlotte attorney and financial planner, are running for Cooksey’s District 7 seat.

Other races that south Charlotte residents can vote for are the at-large race, where Democrat incumbents Michael Barnes, Claire Green Fallon, David Howard and Beth Pickering are joined in filing by Scott Jenkins and Vi Alexander Lyles. Republican Vanessa Faura, of south Charlotte, also has filed.

Three Democrats have filed for mayor: councilmembers Patrick Cannon, of south Charlotte, and James Mitchell Jr., of the Mountain Island area; as well as Cotswold-area resident Gary Dunn.

For the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education, incumbent Eric Davis has filed for the SouthPark-area seat, and Paul Bailey, a Matthews councilmember, has filed for the Ballantyne-area seat.

More candidates will file before the deadline of July 19, a Friday, at noon. Candidates can find more information about how to file at the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections website, www.meckboe.org.

See an in-depth look at all the candidates in the July 26 issues of South Charlotte Weekly.

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