Charlotte residents have a chance to speak to public officials about the issues confronting the region.
The Ballantyne Breakfast Club will bring together elected officials, and police, school and transportation representatives for its annual Priorities Meeting.
This year’s meeting will be held at 8 a.m. Feb. 23 at the Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge.
The location moved to the hotel, which will provide small rooms for discussion, something Ray Eschert, president of the Ballantyne Breakfast Club, believes will help the meeting run smoothly.
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Another key element to this year’s meeting is the format change.
Instead of each official and employee taking turns discussing their priorities one at a time in front of a large crowd, each will have an individual table to talk about their particular issues.
“In the past, there have been folks who have gotten a hold of the mic and not put it down,” said Eschert. “By setting it up like a trade show, the public can discuss the issues that are important to them directly with the elected official.”
Eschert says this meeting could be one of the most popular yet, due in part to many contentious issues: the addition of an Uptown streetcar, the $125 million renovation of the Panthers stadium and the future of the Eastland Mall.
Representatives from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools also will be on hand to discuss changes such as the possibility of year-round schools.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department will address the rise in crime.
And Charlotte Area Transit System and Charlotte Department of Transportation will discuss issues such as the extension of the light rail, bus routes, and road and bike lane improvements.
There also are several issues that affect the public at the county and state level, such as property tax valuation, voter identification, and economic growth.
Representatives will be there to speak with the public on an individual basis and answer questions.
Eschert said it’s vital for members of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County to attend the meeting.
“There are going to be a lot of changes because of what the election brought us,” Eschert said. “It’s reached the point where we need to have a place where people can come and speak directly with someone who has some responsibility in these matters.”
District 7 City Council Member Warren Cooksey hopes the location of the meeting doesn’t deter people from across Charlotte.
“These are issues that affect us all, not just the people of south Charlotte,” Cooksey said. “If you pay taxes, or drive, or have kids who go to school in Mecklenburg County, then these issues affect you.”
At-Large Charlotte City Council Member Beth Pickering said she will be at the meeting and encourages the public to attend.
“The meeting is a rare opportunity for neighbors to have access to so many elected officials – city, county and state, as well as other civic leaders,” Pickering said. “As a council member, it’s a great way for me to hear what’s currently on the minds of neighbors. I guarantee that anyone who attends the meeting will walk away feeling more informed, more plugged into their community and more familiar with their elected and non-elected public officials.”