Greg Phipps is serving his first full term as the Charlotte City Council member representing District 4, which includes the University City area.
Phipps replaced Michael Barnes in an at-large seat. Both men are Democrats.
During his campaign, Phipps said, “I was the poster child for the saying, ‘Every vote counts.’ ”
During the primary, on Sept. 10, Phipps needed 40 percent of the votes to avoid a runoff. He received 39.97 percent, and a runoff was held Oct. 8.
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Phipps won the runoff, then handily won the District 4 seat during the general election with 66 percent of the vote.
Because this was his first political campaign, Phipps said, “A lot of the campaign was self-funded. It took a lot of hard work.”
Phipps chairs the council’s budget committee and serves on the Transportation and Planning, Community Safety and Government Accountability committees, and on the University City Partners board.
Phipps said he became interested in community service when he got involved on the grass-roots level. In 1999, a year after he moved to Charlotte, his neighborhood lost a rezoning battle. That sparked his interest to learn more and do more to make a difference.
“I had no desire to get into politics, but I found it rewarding to be involved on the grass-roots level,” said Phipps.
He also was inspired, he said, after taking a Civics 101 class sponsored by the League of Women Voters in 2000. “At the end of the class, they encourage you to serve on a board or committee,” he said.
Phipps took the advice to heart.
He has been the president of the Back Creek II Homeowners Association since 2000. He also has worked with National Night Out, Keep Charlotte Beautiful, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s leadership committee and several other organizations. Phipps is a member of Freedom House Church.
In 2004, former District 4 Councilman Malcolm Graham asked Phipps to fill the remaining 10 months of his term after Graham was elected to a state Senate seat. Phipps served until December 2005.
In 2009, Phipps was appointed to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission. He resigned from that commission just before he was sworn in on the City Council in December.
A native of Richmond, Va., Phipps earned a bachelor of science degree in marketing/management from Hampton University in Hampton, Va., in 1975. After college, he worked for the U.S. Treasury Department in Richmond.
In 1988, Phipps earned a master’s degree at the Southwestern Graduate School of Banking at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.
In 1998, Phipps and his family moved to Charlotte for his job. Phipps said he became interested in the University City area after several business trips gave him a good impression.
Phipps recently celebrated 30 years of marriage to his wife, Lemair. They have three grown children.
On the council, Phipps said, “I’ve come to the realization that you can’t have 11 visions for the city of Charlotte. Even though we are district representatives, my vision mirrors the city. Charlotte offers a great place to work, to play and raise a family.”
He sees a positive future for the University area: “With the infusion of $1.2 billion being spent on light rail, that growth will have a ripple effect,” said Phipps. “I hope the growth will be positive and not detrimental.”
He warned University City residents that construction of the Lynx Blue Line extension will present challenges, but it will be transformative by the time it is complete in 2017. “Long term, I’d also like to see more walkable areas and bike lanes,” he said.
Phipps urges residents to use social media to keep up with city projects and services, saying it is a good way to stay abreast of construction developments, road closures and more.
One of his campaign promises was to showcase the district as a destination for academic research, job creation, business retention and expansion.
“I want to attract Fortune 500 companies to the University Research Park. We need balanced housing options so they don’t go to other areas to live,” he said. “We need courageous developers and contractors to build upscale houses.”
“We still have a lot of land, but … a lot (of the land) is already zoned for apartments,” he said, adding he has some concerns about growth, quality retail and balanced housing options.
During his two-year term, Phipps said, he wants to connect with constituents as often as he can. He said he plans a series of informal “meet-and-greets” at local coffee houses, though he wants to call them “Burnt Toast and Coffee Time.”
To contact Phipps, call 704-574-7226 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Phipps used the campaign slogan “Working for a Stronger Charlotte.” He appears to be on the path of doing just that.