I had a few more questions.
I was invited to be on the panel quizzing the candidates for Charlotte Mayor in the big debate last week, as I had been in the last general election two years ago. Back then it was Patrick Cannon against Edwin Peacock. Peacock remains the Republican nominee but as Mr. Cannon has become unavailable to run for re-election, Jennifer Roberts is now the Democrat.
With two other panelists, a moderator and audience members chiming in, I was able to ask only a few questions. They were primarily about the power (or lack thereof) vested in Charlotte’s mayor, fighting crime, and issues inside CMPD evident through the prosecution of CMPD officer Randall Kerrick.
But I had a few more.
In the spirit of selfless public service, I will pose those other questions to the candidates here. Mrs. Roberts and Mr. Peacock, please post your answers in the “Comments” section of this column online or call me on the radio:
▪ Charlotte is a city that loves its Shiny New Thingies, be they venues, trains or streetcars. How much cash should each taxpayer personally be prepared to cough up for Shiny New Thingies under your administration?
▪ What should be done when officials, including mayors, promote projects that take hundreds of millions of dollars from taxpayers on the basis of Blue Sky projections and create red-ink-bleeding White Elephants like the NASCAR Hall of Fame?
▪ When the transit tax was the subject of a recall referendum some years ago, billboards defending the tax said light rail was needed to fight traffic and congestion. How many fewer cars are there on I-77 and South Boulevard each day at rush hour thanks to the Blue Line?
▪ Residents in 17 of the 25 largest cities in the country are able to vote for a mayor who has direct authority – and accountability – in running their city beyond conducting council meetings and hosting ground-breaking and ribbon-cutting ceremonies. Why shouldn’t Charlotte voters have that same right?
▪ Since the primary job responsibilities of Charlotte mayor are running council meetings and doing ground breakings and ribbon cuttings, which implement do you best wield: the gavel, the golden shovel, or those giant scissors?
▪ Do you think it’s proper that a public employee – say, a police chief – can retire after only seven years of service with a pension of over $52,000 a year?
Those are a few of the additional questions I was prepared to ask the candidates last Wednesday, had there been time. And I would have asked them not to be difficult, but truly in an effort to help. Like when I asked Peacock and Roberts, “Would you pledge now that if elected, you will not use the Mayor’s office as a drop-off for briefcases full of cash?”
Think how much help it would have been if I had asked that question in the debate before the last election.
Keith Larson can be heard Monday-Friday 9am-Noon on WBT AM/FM Radio.