Mayor candidates discuss CIP, Charlotte’s stature

Charlotte residents have a lot of work to do before deciding in November who the next mayor of Charlotte will be, including narrowing the playing field in both the Democratic and Republican parties.

Six candidates have filed for the open seat, including current Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Cannon and District 2 city councilman James Mitchell. The race consists of four Democrats and two Republicans, all of whom will face a primary vote on Sept. 10 to narrow the race to one candidate per party. A second primary vote will take place Oct. 8, if necessary.

This week, South Charlotte Weekly is taking a quick look at candidates for mayor. Each candidate was asked the same three questions and responded through email. Responses were edited for space. David Rice did not respond to questions by press deadline. Find the candidates’ complete, unedited answers, as well as other election coverage on Mecklenburg County races and answers to what each candidate feels is the single greatest issue facing Charlotte, at www.thecharlotteweekly.com.

Charlotte Mayor

Democratic Candidates

Patrick Cannon
info@cannonformayor.com
www.cannonformayor.com

What role do you think a mayor should play in bringing city council together after a contentious two-year battle over a capital investment plan?

There will be at least five new elected officials out of 11 that will be on the next body. As mayor, my role would be to meet regularly with council members to get each one’s input on how to move Charlotte forward and encourage council to work together as the unit they are rather than in select groups. This, coupled with leisure activity away from council business (where there’s no violation of the open meetings law), can help build rapport with the body and allow the city council to reach consensus on budget or any other related matters to advance the city’s future for the taxpayers.

What would you do as mayor to elevate Charlotte’s stature as a premiere destination in the country for new residents, businesses and tourism?

As mayor, both domestically and internationally, I would advocate all of the quality of life attributes Charlotte has to offer and speak to how Mecklenburg County is generating $4.4 billion annually in hospitality and tourism revenues, and the interest that the DNC and RNC have in our city, and mention the CIAA, which I pushed to bring in 2006 and reportedly has brought more than $40 million in economic impact and more than $29 million in direct spending.  Building upon these action initiatives to increase our stature as a preferred destination place to entice those residents, businesses and tourism opportunities are things I would speak to that could convince others to make their way to Charlotte. Additionally, I would work closely with Visit Charlotte, the Charlotte Chamber, the Hospitality and Tourism Alliance, the Charlotte Sports Foundation, the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority and REBIC along with the Charlotte Regional Partnership together to package the best message possible to attract and/or maintain those opportunities.

Gary Dunn
704-283-2147
704-780-0401 (cell)
garydunn88@aol.com
garydunn.net

What role do you think a mayor should play in bringing city council together after a contentious two-year battle over a capital investment plan?

I would fire all the current consulting firms and start asking advice from grad students and professors at the local colleges like the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Those individuals who don’t have  monetary stewardship of the henhouse can give fair, unbiased and empirical evaluations of capital projects. For example, the trolley line and the LYNX out on North Tryon; both need to be re-evaluated using a little bit more perspective, based on the fact that the money to be used does not belong to the city council. It belongs to the taxpayers.

Furthermore, the improvements to Independence Boulevard corridor can be halted at this point, as the problem was not the need for an overpass but the elimination of left-hand turns and restricting cross-traffic between 7:30 and 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 and 6 p.m. each day.

The Idlewild/Rama time has been reduced from 28 minutes to 15 minutes… ouch.

However, we are going to spend an additional billion dollars to build the two overpasses. As it stands, the problem is fixed.

Why are we going to burden the citizens with an additional $1,500 per household in debt? This is the reason and logic that I will bring to the mayor’s seat and city council.

What would you do as mayor to elevate Charlotte’s stature as a premiere destination in the country for new residents, businesses and tourism?

• Show new residents that they don’t have to commute to work, which is a horrendous waste of time (which is your life). Do this by asking centrally located companies to stop consolidating in the heart of the city. Most of the employees don’t live in Charlotte, which adds a burden to the infrastructure and removes tax revenues.
• Be business friendly by reducing the administrative demands of companies and restrictions for companies moving here.
• Increase the entertainment value of the city and surrounding venues by not imposing higher dining tax, movie taxes or room taxes.

James (Smuggie) Mitchell
704-606-6285
votejamesmitchell@gmail.com
www.votejamesmitchell.com

What role do you think a mayor should play in bringing city council together after a contentious two-year battle over a capital investment plan?

The next mayor has to be a consensus-builder and someone who can develop relationships.  I believe that I have shown, during my time on council, that I have a record of bringing people together – on council, in our neighborhoods and in the business community. I’ll work to bring citizens, the business community and government to the table.  Everyone should have a say and play a role in the progress of our city. I’ve been a collaborator all of my life, and I strongly believe Charlotte will move forward farther and faster when we all work together. I will approach my job as mayor with humility, and I believe individuals who are given the responsibility of serving in public office must always remember it’s not about personalities, it’s about getting things done for the people of our city who have given us the responsibility to represent them.

What would you do as mayor to elevate Charlotte’s stature as a premiere destination in the country for new residents, businesses and tourism?

I am a former president of the National League of Cities, an organization that represents cities and municipalities all across the country, and I have a truly nation-wide set of relationships with business and political leaders. I want to build upon the progress made by Secretary of Transportation and former Mayor Anthony Foxx. I will work to improve our public schools, continue to make smart investments in our infrastructure and fight for affordable housing, safer communities and critical programs like the Youth Employment Program. Charlotte should not just be one of the premier destinations for people, it should be the No. 1 destination for new business, new jobs and new opportunities.

Lucille Puckett
704-390-3787
lucille.puckett@yahoo.com
www.lucillepuckettformayor.info

What role do you think a mayor should play in bringing city council together after a contentious two-year battle over a capital investment plan?

Since after this election there will be several new council members, some of the contention that happened during the two year CIP battle will be elevated. However, the mayor yet plays a critical role in bringing and keeping city council together, leading by example, being honest, consistent, but yet flexible, setting some consensual meeting rules from Day 1 and reminding council of these as necessary. Making sure all council is knowledgeable of Robert’s Rules of Order and the city’s code of ethics, and are serving for the good of Charlotte and staying open minded, respectable and focused.

What would you do as mayor to elevate Charlotte’s stature as a premiere destination in the country for new residents, businesses and tourism?

As the mayor of Charlotte, I will continue to be the lead in promoting Charlotte’s vision and mission. To market Charlotte as the premiere destination that it is and will continue to be. Yes, the current leadership – some local, on state level and in the General Assembly – are attempting to blemish Charlotte’s reputation and that is why it is vital for a change in leadership on all levels. Charlotte is the best place to live, work, have a business, raise a family and play.

Republican Candidates

Edwin B. Peacock III
704-347-1080
Edwin@edwinpeacock.com
www.edwinpeacock.com

What role do you think a mayor should play in bringing city council together after a contentious two-year battle over a capital investment plan?

The mayor must work with council members to determine the priorities they want to accomplish and what obstacles each member might like to see (fixed) in order to achieve their objectives. It’s through the mayor’s relationship with the council that he/she can achieve the best results. The mayor and council must then give clear direction to staff as to the options they would like to see.

The mayor’s unique role in the budget process is to communicate it to the public and seek broader feedback and to build support. I believe our council has left the public very confused by their adoption of the current budget, which will now increase property taxes by 7.2 percent.

Our council has made a mistake by approving this budget for three reasons. (1) How can a property tax increase possibly be the answer to stimulating job growth when our unemployment rate is near the nation’s highest at 8.8 percent; (2) Our council should have looked for a capital budget that spends less in order to avoid an increase at this time; and (3) The public’s level of trust in their elected officials and our taxing policy remains dismal given the botched 2011 county property tax reevaluation that is only now being rectified.

What would you do as mayor to elevate Charlotte’s stature as a premiere destination in the country for new residents, businesses and tourism?

As a native of Charlotte, I would often here this phrase as a young adult: “Charlotte’s a great place to live, you just would not want to visit!” That backhanded critique of our city is now gone.
Charlotte has become a destination to not only live, but to visit for a number of cultural, sporting and outdoor activities. Building upon our business and destination successes we’ve achieved (our first national convention hosted, second largest banking hub in the United States and the home of North America’s largest energy company) we have only just begun.

The mayor’s role must be to work in partnership with our chamber, the CRVA, the Charlotte Regional Partnership and the N.C. Department of Commerce to continue to elevate Charlotte and our region as a destination for visitors, those companies seeking a higher quality of life for their employees and for anyone wanting to raise a family in a genuinely friendly city that’s welcoming to all.

The mayor also must recognize that, while we’re about promoting Charlotte, we’re really promoting the Charlotte region. The success of Charlotte’s growth will be severely limited if she takes for granted her neighbors. The mayor’s leadership role in building strong relationships with our neighbors in Davidson, Huntersville, Cornelius, Matthews, Pineville  and Mint Hill can never be overlooked.

I firmly believe in this motto: “If you think about it, you’ll talk about it, and if you talk about it, you’ll bring it about.” We will become the city we wish to become. Our mayor is a critical factor in communicating a vision for its citizens and their futures together.

David Rice
704-890-7402
kingdavid28205@yahoo.com
Editor’s Note: Rice did not respond to calls or emails prior to press deadline.

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