The stalemate over the city of Charlotte’s capital plan is spilling into the 2013 city elections, with at-large council member Claire Fallon saying she believes Mayor Anthony Foxx, a fellow Democrat, is trying to push her out of office for not backing a streetcar.
Foxx is trying to secure enough votes to include a $119 million streetcar extension in the broader capital plan, which could reach nearly $1 billion.
Fallon voted against the streetcar in June. She said recently she hasn’t changed her mind.
Earlier this week she said she wouldn’t respond to political pressure to back the streetcar. On Friday Fallon said she believes Foxx will try to run another Democrat against her in the upcoming elections.
Fallon was first elected in 2011.
“I don’t think they wanted me from the beginning because they know I go my own way,” Fallon said.
She said she has had a number of conversations with the mayor about the streetcar.
“He never said it outright,” Fallon said. “It was inferred. You listen to the music and not the words. The inference was, ‘I’m not very happy.’ He certainly isn’t going to support me.”
In an interview earlier in the week, Foxx said he will likely run for his third term as mayor, but that he will make a final decision in early 2013.
When asked about candidates for City Council, and whether he would recruit other Democrats to run citywide, Foxx said only that he would give careful consideration to any endorsement.
Foxx was in Washington, D.C., Friday. His press assistant, Al Killeffer, said the mayor is “disappointed that some members of City Council would rather talk to the media than to him and one another about how best to reach consensus on a capital plan that moves Charlotte forward.
“As the mayor stated in his letter to council on Nov. 26, his sole focus at this point is finding a plan that seven or more council members support – with or without the streetcar.”
In November 2011, Foxx won his second term as mayor in a landslide, with 67 percent of the vote. His coattails also helped bring two new Democrats on the council: Fallon and Beth Pickering.
Pickering’s victory surprised city leaders. She had little experience in city politics and had raised little money.
Fallon and Pickering helped give Democrats a 9-2 majority on council – the largest margin for either party since the city went to single-member districts in the late 1970s.
But having a supermajority of Democrats hasn’t helped to pass a capital plan.
In June, Democrats Fallon, Pickering, Patrick Cannon and Michael Barnes joined Republicans Warren Cooksey and Andy Dulin in voting against the plan.
They said the required property tax increase was too high, and many said they were wary about the streetcar.
There are already signs there could be intense competition among Democrats for the council’s four at-large seats.
Democrat James Mitchell, who represents District 2, said he’s mulling a citywide run. Mitchell supports the streetcar and is generally considered a Foxx ally.
Foxx has called the streetcar an important transit link for east and west Charlotte.
In addition, supporters say it will spark economic development in some of the city’s most distressed areas, much as the Lynx Blue Line has led to a residential boom in the South End.
Opponents of the streetcar say it offers few advantages over a bus. The streetcar operates in traffic and stops at traffic signals as vehicles do.
Pickering said she has had “firm and frank” conversations with the mayor about the streetcar. She said she’s concerned about the streetcar because of the property tax increase.
She said she has heard “rumors” that Foxx would support other Democratic candidates against her.
“When I heard James (Mitchell) may run at-large I thought that might be true,” she said.
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