Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles covered topics like alleged election fraud in the 9th District to the city’s lack of affordable housing in an end-of-year news conference Monday.
“It’s been a great first year as mayor,” Lyles said. “And I want to say to the citizens and the residents of our community and our region, that I can’t ever be anything but proud of the way that our city and our region and our state are working together.”
And for 2019, alongside continuing to tackle the affordable housing crisis, she wants this to be the year of jobs, with a focus on both training and recruitment. Lyles said in December alone, 3,500 new jobs have been announced in the city.
Honeywell, a Fortune 100 technology company, announced it’s moving its headquarters from New Jersey to Charlotte in late November, with incentives offered to the company reaching over $80 million, according to the News and Observer. And in early December, LendingTree announced plans to bring 436 high-paying jobs to the city over the next five years.
“This community has stepped up with companies that have said we will bring all types of jobs, but we’ve also got to make sure that people are prepared,” Lyles said.
And her New Year’s resolution? To listen more.
“ ...and to ask people to come into our office, into my office, into our chamber, wherever we can meet them, and say, ‘How would you solve this problem?’” Lyles said.
On Dec. 28, Gov. Roy Cooper announced he will continue the investigation into North Carolina’s 9th District election. Lyles stands behind Cooper’s response to the potential election fraud, and said he is on a “great path.”
While Republican Mark Harris has asked to be named the district’s winner, incoming House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Harris won’t be seated on Jan. 3 because of fraud allegations.
“In this instance, the integrity of our democratic process outweighs concerns about the seat being vacant at the start of the new Congress,” Hoyer said in a statement to the Observer on Friday.
Lyles shared a similar sentiment, and said the decision should be left to the voters.
“If you ran for office, and you were putting your heart and soul into giving back and you wanted to serve the public, then the voter should have the right to make that decision,” Lyles said. “And I think that anything that’s election fraud can only be remedied when the voters have that confidence, and that’s often through a new election.”
NBA and RNC
With Charlotte to host both the 2019 NBA All-Star Game and the 2020 Republican National Convention, talks of both the financial benefits and safety concerns have hit the city.
The city hosted the Democratic National Convention just eight years ago, generating nearly $164 million in economic impact, according to a study conducted after the event. While the RNC could do the same, some are concerned about potential protests.
“This is going to be the mother of all protests,” said Eugene O’Donnell, a nationally known expert on policing and professor at the John Jay School of Criminal Justice in New York in a July interview with the Observer. “Who in their right mind would want to police this?”
Though eligible to retire in 2020 after joining the department in 1992, Putney is delaying his retirement until after the RNC, according to WBTV.
Putney and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department have made the city safer, Lyles said, adding that both events are an opportunity to look at Charlotte’s security.
Lyles said she appreciates community members’ support for the $50 million affordable housing bond, and the recognition that affordable housing is a part of economic opportunity in Charlotte.
“We’ve got more to do,” Lyles said. “And I expect in early 2019 that we will actually have a metric that you’ll be able to hold us accountable for when we start talking about what types of housing can we build, and where we will locate it.”
But for some Charlotte residents such as Curtis Simpson, who works as a full-time custodian at Independence High School, the city’s affordable housing investment hasn’t helped, leaving him in poor conditions and debt he told the Observer in October 2018.
“I work my butt off to pay the bills,” said Simpson, 47, a lifelong Charlotte resident. “My reward is to fix this and fix that. It makes you feel like something less than a man.”
Lyles said Monday she wants to focus on three things she thinks are important in 2019 for housing: constructing new affordable units, preserving naturally occurring affordable housing and providing relief when individuals are in a crisis.
She said she foresees affordable housing being a big topic at January’s City Council Annual Strategy Meeting, where she hopes to further solidify her goals to take the $50 million and increase it with another $50 million from the private sector.
Lyles said to expect an upcoming announcement about the $100 million progress in early January.