For the first time in four years, there is an open seat for Charlotte City Council District 7, a heavily Republican area that includes some of the citys newest neighborhoods.
After incumbent Warren Cooksey decided not to run for re-election, Ed Driggs won the three-person Republican primary in September. He will face Democrat Bakari Burton in Tuesdays general election.
Republicans have only two seats on the 11-member City Council, with one of them being in District 7. Driggs, 64, is favored to keep the seat in the hands of the GOP.
My core agenda is keeping the city financially healthy, said Driggs, a retired banker and analyst who lives in Piper Glen.
Driggs first made his mark in politics by challenging Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James in 2012. James held off Driggs, but the close loss helped propel Driggs to win the Republican primary this year.
Driggs said he has already begun to prepare for serving. He said some neighborhood leaders have contacted him about upcoming rezonings, wanting him to get up to speed if elected.
Burton, 31, is making his first run for public office. He works in the first aid and safety division at Cintas Corp.
He said he is running to ensure the city spends more money on infrastructure in District 7.
At the end of the day, I dont think you have to have a D or an R by your name to realize we have a traffic issue and that we have some public safety issues here, said Burton, who lives off Johnston Road near Ardrey Kell Road.
Driggs said some elements of the citys $816 million Capital Investment Plan are worthwhile, but he said the city should work to pay for the spending program without raising taxes. Thats a similar position to Republican mayoral candidate Edwin Peacock.
Driggs said the city should have prioritized which CIP items were most important. Some projects, such as a proposed renovation of Bojangles Coliseum, are not critical, he said.
Burton said he would like to have a CIP without a tax increase. But he said the city needs to do what it takes to improve transportation options in the area. He cited the inability to walk to and from the Chick-fil-A on Rea Road.
You cant walk because there arent any sidewalks, he said.
Driggs said many District 7 voters are frustrated because they believe they pay too much in property taxes and dont receive enough city services. That feeling has led to a faction that has proposed attempting to secede from Charlotte and form a new municipality.
Driggs said he doesnt think a divorce from Charlotte is the best approach.
I dont think it makes much sense to try and break away, Driggs said. This is one big (economic) system.
If you see your money being spent well, its not much of an issue, he said. I love living out here and being a part of Charlotte. But we need some attention.
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