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Charlotte mayoral candidate Edwin Peacock values collaborative approach

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  • Edwin Peacock III

    Age: 43

    Hometown: Charlotte

    Family: Wife, Amy; two children, 10 and 8.

    Education: Charlotte Country Day; University of Georgia, BA in political science, 1992.

    Profession: Vice president, The Pomfret Financial Company, representing Northwestern Mutual.

    Politics: Charlotte City Council, at-large, 2007-2011. Worked for the 1983 mayoral campaign of his father, Ed.

    Civic involvement: Various board and commissions; assistant coach, Myers Park Trinity Little League; in 2005 helped lead successful effort to win historical designation for Hermitage Court in Myers Park.

    Washington years: After college, moved to Washington to be with his then-girlfriend Amy. Worked as a mortgage adviser in the capital. Returned to Charlotte in 2003.

    Sports trivia: Twice made practice squad for UGA varsity baseball as a pitcher; tried out for both the Atlanta Braves and Montreal Expos.

    Worth knowing: Lives next to the house used as “Saul’s” in “Homeland” and has rented his garage for the show.


  • Peacock on the issues

    Economic development

    He says Charlotte is “living off its past glory” as the home of some of the nation’s biggest banks and power company. Says the key to future jobs is the growth of smaller private companies. At one event, he highlighted the need for a more risk-taking business culture that rewards high-growth startups.

    Transportation

    Supports regional transportation planning and opposes moving the proposed streetcar ahead of other priorities. Says “our priorities must remain the expansion of our bus system, the completion of the light rail to UNCC, the expansion of rail to Huntersville, Cornelius, & Davidson and then the streetcar.”

    Education

    Pledges to get involved in education, even though the city lacks any formal role. Says he would use his bully pulpit to advocate for higher teacher pay. Also would institute a “Mayor’s Education Award” to recognize teachers and students. And would explore ways to help teachers with housing, perhaps through a down payment assistance program.


  • By the numbers: Charlotte voters

    50% – Democrat

    23% – Republican

    26% – Unaffiliated



In the world of F3, a rugged, outdoor fitness group with its own rituals and parlance, Edwin Peacock is known as a “connector.”

He’s 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. “He’s never met a guy he doesn’t 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 that’s inclusive, collaborative and focused.

“He had good leadership and good vision and good persistence,” says former City Manager Curt Walton. “(He’s) 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 wasn’t ‘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 council’s partisan bickering.

He sees the mayor’s job being the city’s “advocate-in-chief.” But like Cannon, and unlike some recent mayors, he says he would treat the job as the part-time role it’s 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 salesman’s 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. “He’s 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 Cannon’s video

“One of my strengths,” he says, “is building relationships and establishing trust. That’s 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.

Pragmatist

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 don’t appreciate some of Edwin’s more socially liberal positions.

“I would not be surprised if there were people that didn’t 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 Obama’s 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, “He’s someone I can sit down with, have an honest discussion and leave friends with after it’s over. We’re able to … agree to disagree without being disagreeable.”

Fast, focused

Early in Peacock’s first term, McCrory tapped him to head the council’s Environment Committee.

“I didn’t 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 city’s 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 city’s 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 city’s 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.

Tirelessly upbeat

Friends rarely see Peacock ruffled.

“I’ve never heard him say a negative word,” says F3’s Redding. “It doesn’t matter how tired he is or how long we’ve 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?”

“That’s how we work together.”

Jason Burgess, a former Democratic council member who has known Peacock since high school, says he believes the candidate’s networks could foster the kind of public-private partnerships Charlotte has often used successfully.

“It’s 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 Peacock’s own.

“Edwin’s F3 workouts are inventive, adventurous, inclusive and never dull,” says Tim Whitmire, F3’s 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.”

Morrill: 704-358-5059
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