EDITOR’S NOTE: This column has been updated to correct inaccurate information in the original version.
I’m always surprised when people ask me why I want to be mayor in a city with a weak mayor form of government, where the position pays very little and has “no real authority.” It’s not about money or power for me. It never has been. I believe the role of the mayor is even bigger than that with responsibility for setting the vision, tone and direction for the Queen City. As a native Charlottean, I cannot think of a more rewarding job.
All of the community assets and amenities Charlotteans and visitors to our city enjoy today are the result of long-term planning and investment. We have past leaders, from both parties, to thank for that. It’s the individual and their vision, not the D or R after their name, that make a lasting impact.
My experience as a servant leader for nearly two decades has given me a unique perspective on what it takes to make things happen here. On my watch, I’ve seen the cultural arts campus, BB&T Ball Park, Romare Bearden Park, light rail and community improvements in all corridors become realities. Without these investments, we certainly would not have attracted the Democratic National Convention or corporate headquarter relocations such as Chiquita and MetLife.
I want what’s best for Charlotte but priorities are not always easy to determine with all corridors competing for attention, support and funding. It becomes even more difficult under trying-but-improving economic conditions. But those challenges are not insurmountable under the right leadership.
It takes elected officials working across party lines to operate in the best interests of the city and its taxpayers. Citizens of Charlotte have a right to expect that. My record and reputation for being decisive yet fiscally prudent show I can deliver that.
As a four-term district representative on the City Council for the west side, I led efforts to revive an often overlooked and under-served constituency. For example, I had a vision for the South End and worked hard to get a revitalization plan in place. Today, what was once old dilapidated factories and mills is a community thriving with jobs, businesses, apartments and a light rail linking it to Uptown. The South End symbolizes what can happen when we plan and invest in Charlotte’s future.
As the top vote getter two of the last four times I was on the ballot, I have also served as mayor pro tem, which provided me with a close look at the office of mayor and on many occasions the opportunity to assume some of the mayoral duties and obligations.
As mayor, I want to broaden our focus on job creation and retention. My opponent spends a great deal of time talking about attracting the best and brightest to our city and region. While that’s important, we first need to address local unemployment by creating more blue collar jobs and training opportunities.
As a business owner, I know that it sometimes takes money to make money, especially when planning for growth. Charlotte and neighboring communities won’t continue to prosper if we don’t invest in their futures. My opponent and I differ greatly on what is called the Capital Investment Plan, mostly because of his literal interpretation of the streetcar. Where he just sees a costly trolley, I see a key component of our 2025 Corridor System Plan and Charlotte Center City 2010 Vision Plan. Notice the word “plan” keeps coming up.
Typically, private investment follows public investment. We have seen it occur in the South End along the Lynx light rail service corridor and we can look forward to similar success as the service gets extended to UNC Charlotte.
The mayor of a can-do city like Charlotte cannot be looking in the rearview mirror. The future is ours for the making … together. A vote for me is an investment in Charlotte’s future.
Patrick Cannon, mayor pro tem and a Charlotte City Council member first elected in 1993, is the Democratic nominee for mayor.
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