In the world of F3, a rugged, outdoor fitness group with its own rituals and parlance, Edwin Peacock is known as a connector.
Hes a charter member of the 3-year-old group, which has grown to over 1,000 in Charlotte alone. He leads pre-dawn boot camps and even created the circle of trust that ends each workout.
As a connector, he persuades otherwise reasonable men to rise at 5 a.m. for body-punishing drills.
He likes to get as many people involved as he can, says Charlotte attorney David Redding, a group founder. Hes never met a guy he doesnt think he can win over.
Now the Charlotte Republican hopes to win over voters as he faces Democrat Patrick Cannon in the race for mayor.
His role in F3 (Fitness, Fellowship and Faith) reflects the leadership style he would bring to the job, which he has displayed in business and over two terms on the City Council one thats inclusive, collaborative and focused.
He had good leadership and good vision and good persistence, says former City Manager Curt Walton. (Hes) often a mediator He has an affability about him that makes people want to work with him.
Andy Dulin, a GOP council member, says Peacock was always interested in input from others.
It wasnt My way or the highway, he says.
If elected, Peacock says he would focus on jobsand transportation and would ensure thatthe mayor has a role in public education. He also wants to end what he sees as the councils partisan bickering.
He sees the mayors job being the citys advocate-in-chief. But like Cannon, and unlike some recent mayors, he says he would treat the job as the part-time role its intended to be.
With a shock of blond hair over a boyish face, Peacock looks younger than his 43 years. Even at Charlotte Country Day, friends called him the J. Crew model.
Energetic and outgoing, he has a salesmans personality that befits his business as a financial adviser and insurance broker.
He is an amazing connector and an amazing networker, says Jennie Derby, a wealth management adviser who has worked with Peacock. Hes very good at listening.
At a recent chili cook-off in Ballantyne, an area filled with transplants, he managed to find connections with dozens of strangers, from their hometowns to policy issues. In F3 lingo, he wraps people in an emotional headlock.
Opponent: Watch Patrick Cannons video
One of my strengths, he says, is building relationships and establishing trust. Thats what you need to be successful in business or politics.
For success now, Peacock has to find a way to win in an increasingly Democratic city.
Running for Congress last year, Peacock was the only one of 10 Republican candidates in the 9th District to publicly oppose an amendment to ban gay marriage. A self-described pragmatist, he said the amendment would be bad for business.
On the City Council, Peacock generally worked well with colleagues of both parties. Like former GOP Mayor Pat McCrory, he finds his strongest critics among conservative Republicans.
Republican Dennis Peterson, an at-large candidate and former tea party leader, says while he supports Peacock, There are a lot of social conservatives ... that dont appreciate some of Edwins more socially liberal positions.
I would not be surprised if there were people that didnt turn out ... or chose not to vote on that race.
Peacock lost his re-election race in 2011, finishing 5,500 votes shy of an at-large seat. He blames national Democratic efforts to help re-elect Mayor Anthony Foxx and establish a foothold in North Carolina for President Barack Obamas re-election effort a year later.
One measure of their success: Democratic organizers helped the Foxx campaign make 200,000 calls to voters while his GOP challenger made just 20,000. Foxx won 68 percent of the vote and helped lift Democrats to a sweep of the four at-large seats.
I believe 2011 was an outlier, Peacock says, explaining his loss.
This year Peacock needs support from independent voters who outnumber Republicans and even Democrats. GOP council member Warren Cooksey says because Peacock defies stereotypes of a Republican candidate, he can work across the aisle.
He definitely goes out to engage people, Cooksey says. He seeks a variety of points of view.
Democratic Sen. Malcolm Graham served with Peacock on the board of visitors at Johnson C. Smith University, where Graham is a special assistant to the president. They disagreed on issues like the proposed streetcar, which college officials support. Peacock has voted against the project, questioning its cost and ultimate value.
But, Graham says, Hes someone I can sit down with, have an honest discussion and leave friends with after its over. Were able to agree to disagree without being disagreeable.
Early in Peacocks first term, McCrory tapped him to head the councils Environment Committee.
I didnt ask for it, Peacock says, but I embraced it wholeheartedly.
He studied the issue and organized two town hall meetings that covered subjects such as conserving energy and improving air and water quality. At one, he called the environment the citys newest priority.
Bill Gupton recalls a meeting of the environment committee where Peacock flashed a PowerPoint. It showed the environment at the center of the citys five policy focus areas.
I was extremely pleased, says Gupton, who chairs the local chapter of the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club had been pushing hard for the city to develop a sustainability plan. A lot of what took place during that time has put us on a path to moving forward.
John Lassiter, a former GOP council member, says Peacock came to council with ideas and suggestions from the committee on a regular basis that reflect the balance between protecting the environment and economic development.
Edwin very quickly grasped the facts and the policy implications and provided strong leadership on council. His style is thoughtful and deliberate and detail-oriented.
Peacock sometimes split from fellow Republicans in supporting environmental initiatives.
In 2010, for example, he voted to strengthen the citys tree ordinance by requiring developers to keep more green space.
He brought a vision and probably a passion about the environmental focus area that we had never really had, Walton says.
Peacock tended to stick with Republicans on spending issues. In 2010 he voted against 3 percent pay raises for city employees and taking $25 million in federal money for a streetcar.
Friends rarely see Peacock ruffled.
Ive never heard him say a negative word, says F3s Redding. It doesnt matter how tired he is or how long weve been gone, that guy is just 100 percent upbeat all the time.
Jason Levergood, a boyhood friend, says, What you see is what you get.
If elected, Peacock is almost certain to face a Democratic majority on council and with it, occasional resistance. He says he would just ask, How can I help them accomplish their objectives?
Thats how we work together.
Jason Burgess, a former Democratic council member who has known Peacock since high school, says he believes the candidates networks could foster the kind of public-private partnerships Charlotte has often used successfully.
Its certainly a way to make things work for Charlotte, says Burgess, whom Peacock also recruited into F3.
On a recent pre-dawn morning, Peacock joined 20 men in a 4-mile run uptown, punctuated by push-ups and five climbs up and down the spiral ramp of a multi-story parking deck. Finishing in a midtown park, they sat on the grass in a circle of trust. Each gave his name, F3 nickname and age.
Then they rose, moved to the center and placed a hand on the shoulder of the man in front as Peacock led them in a short prayer.
Though the workout was led by someone else, it was similar to Peacocks own.
Edwins F3 workouts are inventive, adventurous, inclusive and never dull, says Tim Whitmire, F3s co-founder. His leadership in that setting reflects his personality and is probably a good preview of what he would be like as mayor of Charlotte.
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