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Former Occupier gets on Charlotte City Council ballot

Michael Zytkow has done something that apparently nobody else has ever done: successfully petition to get on the Charlotte City Council ballot.

Mecklenburg elections officials said Tuesday that Zytkow, a former leader of the Occupy Charlotte movement, reached the threshold of 3,063 petition signatures.

Zytkow, 27, plans to pay his filing fee Wednesday at the board of elections to run as an independent.

“I’m incredibly appreciative to all the people who helped us get here and break through that barrier,” he said. “But part of the campaign is drawing attention to the fact that these restrictions should not be in place.”

Zytkow is running in District 4 in northeast Charlotte. His opponent will be decided in an Oct. 8 Democratic runoff between Gregg Phipps and Wil Russell.

Phipps fell two votes short of winning the primary outright. No Republican is running.

A Wake Forest University graduate, Zytkow taught at Garinger High School as part of the Teach for America program. Last year he was a spokesman for the Occupy Charlotte protest.

This year he started the Campaign for Political Reform, a nonprofit that advocates voting reform.

He’s running on a platform that includes ending the use of tax dollars for corporate incentives, pushing for a “living wage,” a tougher Citizens Review Board and making enforcement of some marijuana use a lower priority.

“These are issues that both major parties have neglected,” he said. “If we don’t address them with the diligence they deserve, they’re going to be taboo that much longer.”

He’d also continue pushing for election changes.

Zytkow said his research did not find another Charlotte candidate who successfully petitioned for the ballot. Elections officials also can’t recall any.

With one or the other major party controlling each of the seven council districts, he said, there’s little room for alternative voices or ideas. As an independent, he had to get the signatures of 4 percent of the district’s 73,621 registered voters.

“No person should have to go through what I went through,” he said.

Morrill: 704-358-5059
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