Democrat Claire Fallon is nothing if not blunt.
The Charlotte City Council member once said the NASCAR Hall of Fame would be better used as a homeless shelter.
She opposed using public money to help the Charlotte Knights move uptown from Fort Mill, S.C., saying she “couldn’t see moving a losing team 20 miles to lose up here.”
And when former Mayor Anthony Foxx saw his closest allies stumble in last month’s Democratic primary, she said, “I don’t think he can come back to Charlotte – everybody he supported got creamed.”
Fallon, who still speaks in the brogue of her native New York, brought her outspoken style to the council in 2011. At 78, she’s running for a second at-large term.
Critics call her abrasive. But she doesn’t plan to change.
“I say what I think ... It’s the way I was brought up,” she says. “I hate this Southern thing of ‘bless your heart,’ and then the knife goes in your back.”
Fallon and her late husband moved to Charlotte in 2001 to be closer to their grandchildren. It didn’t take her long to get involved.
She became president of her neighborhood association and later of the NorthEast Coalition of neighborhoods. In 2009 she was appointed to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission.
On council, she voted last year against giving $8 million in city money to the Knights’ new uptown ballpark. She was also one of four Democrats – with Michael Barnes, Patrick Cannon and Beth Pickering – to vote against Foxx’s proposed capital budget that included $119 million for a streetcar.
For her, the feud with Foxx became personal.
Last December she claimed he had implicitly threatened to push her out in the next election. “The inference was, ‘I’m not very happy,’” she said at the time. “He certainly isn’t going to support me.”
Foxx said only he would give careful consideration to any endorsements. He has gone on to become U.S. secretary of transportation.
Though Fallon opposes a streetcar, she favors an east-west light-rail line. She also wants to see an aquarium and zoo on the old Eastland Mall site, which she says “should be a destination.”
Fallon likes to call herself “the voice of the people.”
Last month, she and a handful of other council members were publicly recognized by a Beatties Ford Road businessman, who said they helped resolve a simmering issue. Engineers had planned to build a median that would have interrupted access to their businesses. Fallon interceded with the city manager.
“She deserved all the credit,” says Paul Holmes, whose management consulting business was going to be affected. “Claire Fallon did not back down. She got Ron Carlee ... involved and things started happening.”
Engineers redesigned the median, allowing access to the businesses.
Last month. Holmes awarded Fallon and other supporters certificates of thanks. She proudly displays hers in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center,, just as she does what she calls her “reputation for being feisty.”
“What are they going to do to me if I tell them how I really think?” she says. “I have no agenda. I’m not going to run for a higher office.”
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