Tuesday primary will set local election’s course

Candidates for District 6 and 7 seats on the Charlotte City Council have been hard at work, knocking on doors, visiting area precincts and early voting sites and convincing residents they’re the right choice for the jobs.

Republicans running for both seats will face a primary vote Tuesday, Sept. 10, where only one candidate for District 6 and 7 each will make the final cut. Four Republican candidates are running for the District 6 seat, which covers parts of SouthPark. Three Republican candidates are running for the District 7 seat, which covers Ballantyne, and will face Democratic candidate Bakari Burton on Election Day Nov. 5. Each seat could face a runoff primary if a candidate doesn’t get 50 percent of the vote on Tuesday.

Both seats on the council have a Republican history, and this year are expected to once again face a Democratic-heavy council at a time when south Charlotte voters want lower taxes and what they deem a fair share of funded projects, as well as a strong conservative voice on council. District 6 and 7 are the only current districts with a Republican councilmember, both of which opted not to seek re-election.

Others facing a primary vote include Democratic candidates for Charlotte City Council At-Large, where voters will lower the playing field from seven candidates to four, and for candidates for mayor of Charlotte. Only one Democratic candidate and one Republican candidate will make the cut from a crowded field of six mayoral candidates.

Voter registration information and polling place locations are available on the Mecklenburg Board of Elections website, www.meckboe.org. Here’s what Republican candidates in District 6 and 7 had to say heading into the
primary.

Ken Lindholm is running for Charlotte City Council District 6, his home since moving to Charlotte in 1989. He feels positive heading into the primary season, he said, encouraging people to get to the polls. So far, he says voter turnout has been low, which is typical for primary votes. But that’s why Lindholm has been out visiting neighborhoods and homeowner association meetings, working to get in front of as many residents as possible.

“Many residents want to know, is it worth their time and effort to vote? My view is that it is,” Lindholm said, adding that neighborhood issues are what really resonate with residents. “We have streets that have potholes and concerns with sidewalks and water lines. Those are things that hit home with a lot of people and they need someone who will be there to look out for them.”

Kate Payerle, a candidate for District 6, is a native of Charlotte and a business litigation attorney who says her work experience really separates her from the crowd. She describes her campaign so far as a true grassroots effort, with more than 200 volunteers walking the streets of District 6, knocking on doors “to really connect with voters personally.” She’s attended meet and greets every week since filing and mailers are going out this week as another effort to bring in votes.

“I have experience and ability… As a Republican coming into the council, we’ll be the minority. I am just as committed to conservative values like all the other candidates, but the difference is, I’m actually trained to persuade people in the right way to go,” Payerle said.

Just like in law, Payerle says she’s excited about the opportunity to represent individual residents in District 6.

“That’s what I’m qualified to do professionally, and that’s what I’m wanting to do here.”

James Peterson has been talking to residents all across District 6 and visiting early voting sites like at the Morrison Regional Library, where he’s found residents are tired of “Uptown” politics. His number one focus?

Neighborhoods.

“There’s a disconnect between Uptown politicians and what’s happening in the neighborhoods,” he said. “I want to make sure things are addressed at the local level.”

Peterson’s focus if he becomes the District 6 councilman will be to communicate with the little man, he said. He hopes to set up monthly meetings, at the very least, to give residents a chance to ask the hard-hitting questions and hear answers directly.

“I want them to have the ability to talk to me directly. That’s what really resonates with people,” Peterson said, adding he’s running a “no-strings attached” campaign, meaning what you see is what you get.

“As candidates get into office, they create obligations along the way. Those obligations are whom you really answer to. But I’m not anybody’s puppet.”

Kenny Smith is a candidate for District 6 who takes great pride in his past and current leadership roles with his Barclay Downs neighborhood and Selwyn Avenue Presbyterian Church.

“I’m the only candidate that has been present in the district,” Smith said. “I’ve served as HOA president, a deacon in the church – the people that know me best have elevated me to leadership.”

Smith calls his campaign old fashioned in that he’s telling people exactly what he believes – a campaign tool that is working so far, he added.

“I stopped counting doors at 2,000,” Smith said of knocking on doors of District 6 homes. “When you’re knocking on doors, people give you all sorts of feedback.”

Ed Driggs is running for the Charlotte City Council District 7 seat. His campaign strategy is based on targeting frequent voters from past elections, he said, where he’s found people are tired of confrontation and rhetoric. With a background in economics and corporate finance, he can bring action to a mostly Democratic council, he said.

“I’m in a position to actually have an impact in terms of lower taxes and smarter spending,” Driggs said.

Driggs said his variety of skills and personal track record are really what make him stand out in a crowd. He hopes residents appreciate his ability to analyze investment proposals, which will lead to more effective criticism of ideas brought to council and will stop poor decisions.

“I do think that this is a pretty stark choice,” Driggs said. “It’s not about who is more conservative. It’s about who can make a difference and who won’t.”

Duncan Wilson is young – the youngest Republican candidate running for the City Council District 7 seat – but so was Thomas Jefferson, he said, who wrote the Declaration of Independence when he was 30 years old.

“I’m the only one in the race who is not retired, so they have a lot more time than I do. But any chance I’ve had, I’ve been out knocking on doors, making phone calls – just good old-fashioned politics.”

Wilson said his experience as an attorney and certified financial planner is exactly what city council needs to continue to move forward – and being young gives him more stake in the decisions being made today and how they will affect generations tomorrow. A native to Charlotte, he and his wife hope to start a family here, he said.

“I think it’s important Charlotte remembers that it’s a border town. If we tax people too much, it’s not hard to just leave,” Wilson said. “We need to reverse that and make sure we stay great.”

City Council District 7 candidate Jay Privette did not respond to emails prior to South Charlotte Weekly’s press deadline.

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