Before a crowd of about 50 friends and supporters, Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Cannon entered the city’s race for mayor Tuesday, announcing his candidacy to replace Democrat Anthony Foxx, nominated by President Barack Obama to become the next U.S. transportation secretary.
Cannon, a Democrat, is the council’s longest-serving member and the first Democrat to announce his candidacy.
His kickoff announcement near uptown was heavy on his personal biography.
Cannon, 47, said “he didn’t come from a privileged background,” noting that he grew up in public housing in Charlotte and was raised by a single mom. He was first elected to the City Council in 1993 from District 3, and said nearly half of his life has been working for the public. He ran for an at-large seat in 2001 and has since been re-elected four times.
He is an executive at E-Z Parking, a company that manages parking lots.
“I am a small businessman of 15 years,” Cannon said. “I have met a payroll and have executed fiscal prudence.”
Opposed Foxx’s streetcar plan
For the last two years, Cannon has been challenging Foxx on some key issues in the city. A year ago, Cannon and five other council members voted against a $926 million capital budget that included money for a streetcar – a decision that upset Foxx.
On Tuesday, three of those council members who voted against the capital budget – Democrats Michael Barnes, Claire Fallon and Beth Pickering – stood beside Cannon in support.
The council’s other Democrats who are closer to Foxx – Patsy Kinsey, John Autry, David Howard and James Mitchell – did not attend the rally.
Key council votes ahead
The party primaries and the November general election will begin to take shape with two key votes scheduled for the next few weeks.
On May 28, City Manager Ron Carlee has asked the City Council to vote on a plan to set aside $63 million in reserve funds to build a streetcar extension. The plan calls for the city to apply for a $63 million federal grant. Carlee has said no property taxes would be used for the streetcar and that a tax increase won’t be necessary.
Cannon opposed the streetcar in 2012 because the old funding plan required a property tax increase. Earlier this month, Cannon said he was “in a better place” about the streetcar because it wouldn’t require a tax hike.
On June 11, council members are scheduled to vote on the city’s operating and capital budget. The $816 million capital budget would require a property tax increase that could reach 7.25 percent. Cannon has indicated he supports the plan.
During his news conference, Cannon added that he is a “change agent” who “works across party lines.” Cannon has been joined by Republicans Andy Dulin and Warren Cooksey in several key votes in the last two years.
Peacock is GOP opponent
On the Republican side, former council member Edwin Peacock is the only person who has so far announced his candidacy for mayor.
Peacock said Monday that the last two Republicans who ran for mayor – John Lassiter in 2009 and Scott Stone in 2011 – have said they are not running.
It’s possible other Democrats may join the race.
Howard, who is an at-large member, said Monday he is considering it. State Sen. Dan Clodfelter said Tuesday he is “favorably inclined” ro run. State Rep. Becky Carney told the Observer Tuesday that she’s “seriously still considering” running for mayor.
“We are moved only by what we want to do,” Cannon said about other candidates. “If someone else gets in the race, it is what it is.”
Foxx is scheduled to be questioned by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. If he is confirmed by the full Senate, Foxx has said he would step down as mayor.
The City Council would then choose an interim mayor, of whom the only requirement is that the new mayor be a Democrat. Staff writer Jim Morrill contributed.
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