Dont look now while youre squeezing the final juice out of summer but another election is upon us. Not just any election but one in which Charlotte will name a new mayor and could bounce half or more of its City Council.
Early voting starts Thursday for the Sept. 10 primary, and theres a precinct-full of subplots. Will Charlotte ever elect a Republican citywide again? Who will replace Anthony Foxx (and interim Patsy Kinsey) as mayor? Will at-large freshmen Claire Fallon and Beth Pickering hang on to their seats? Does Charlotte care?
The one thing thats certain: Turnover. Besides choosing the new mayor, Charlotte voters will fill at least four of the seven district seats with new faces. At least one new at-large council member will also win, and perhaps more. Four council members will essentially be elected in the primary, because only one party is fielding a candidate in their races, and three others will have token opposition.
We know its hard to get excited. It seems like its permanently campaign season these days and, unless youre a real news junkie, you know as much about the Charlotte candidates as the Charlottesville ones.
But if this years legislative session showed anything it is, as both sides say, that elections have consequences and not just the presidential election. In fact, you could argue the lower a race is on the ballot, the higher its impact on your life.
Consider what Charlottes City Council has tackled in recent times. Providing millions to build an uptown stadium for baseballs Charlotte Knights. Giving the Carolina Panthers $87 million for stadium upgrades. Agreeing to a $816 million capital plan. Providing incentives to bring Chiquita, MetLife and other companies. Approving and rejecting rezonings that shape Charlotte neighborhoods. And if you are a typical homeowner, you paid more than $1,000 in property taxes this year to help fund it all.
If thats not enough reason to pay attention, Observer reporter Jim Morrills story on Saturday is. Morrill and researcher Maria David dug into the candidates backgrounds. Some of their findings should get citizens off their couches and into the voting booth.
So clue in and turn out. Or youll go two years with no grounds for complaint.
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