A chance to meet with Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter and several other high-level city officials has a town hall meeting in University City “sold out,” officials said.
The free meet-and-greet event scheduled for Sept. 28 requires attendees to sign up in advance, as the meeting room at the University Regional Library can hold only about 60 people. Officials said the event reached the maximum capacity of reservations nearly a week before the meeting.
“It tells you people are thirsting to know what’s going on and to ask questions,” said organizer Claire Green Fallon, an at-large City Council member.
Fallon, who lives in the Davis Lake area of University City, previously led the now-inactive Northeast Coalition, which she said frequently brought elected officials and community leaders to the area.
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“Unfortunately, people up here don’t come down to civic center” in uptown Charlotte, Fallon said, noting the drive and parking can be a deterrent. “(But) if I brought it to them, we had a full room,” she said.
Normal turnout at previous meetings has ranged from 40 to 50, but growth in the University City area and the chance to hear a relatively new mayor attracted more than organizers anticipated. Fallon said she hopes to offer a similar meeting with Clodfelter again in the next few months.
“I’m sorry for anybody I can’t accommodate,” she said of the limited seating. Fallon said she’ll book a larger venue, such as a local church, for the next meeting.
Fallon said she also hopes to involve District 4 Councilman Greg Phipps, who represents much of the area, in organizing the next meeting, which will depend on finding a mutually convenient date for city officials.
Fallon said she and Clodfelter began discussing a town hall visit in the University City area shortly after his mayoral appointment in April. In addition to meeting and learning more about the new mayor, inviting other high-ranking city officials – City Manager Ron Carlee, Police Chief Rodney Monroe and Fire Chief Jon Hannan – to the meeting seemed a natural fit, she said.
“What else are people interested in?” she said. “Safety. What is it going to cost? How the mayor will handle (it)?”
Fallon said University City has seen tremendous change in a relatively short period, and residents have questions about the future.
“It was such a quiet little area … a very transient area. People would come, rent an apartment and decide where in Charlotte they wanted to go. Now they’re staying.”
“(Now) we’re really the new Ballantyne,” Fallon said. “We’re getting so many businesses and startups. … Don’t forget the Blue Line (extension); that will sure make a difference, that and (completion of Interstate) 485.”
Fallon said she expects residents will have concerns as well as questions, but she believes most attendees are simply curious about Clodfelter.
“Will he run again? And what kind of mayor he is. … Basically … what people want to do is meet him,” Fallon said.
Since former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon resigned after his arrest on charges of corruption earlier this year, Fallon said, transparency of local government and elected officials is more vital than ever.
“You want to get as much out to the people as you can. I believe in being very transparent, and I think people appreciate that we are. … It’s time for everybody to be as open as they can,” Fallon said.
“Anything we can do … to have people trust us again is so important.”