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Charlotte City Council candidates pledge support for LGBT issues

Twelve candidates for Charlotte City Council at-large seats attended the LGBT Community Candidate Forum Tuesday.
Twelve candidates for Charlotte City Council at-large seats attended the LGBT Community Candidate Forum Tuesday. Steve Harrison/sharrison@charlotteobserver.com

Candidates for four Charlotte City Council at-large seats pledged their support Tuesday for issues important to the LGBT community, including passing a non-discrimination ordinance that was rejected earlier this year.

There are 15 candidates running for the at-large seats, with 12 of them Democrats.

Tuesday’s candidate forum was attended by all at-large candidates, except for Democrats Claire Fallon, an incumbent, and Aaron Sanders. Republican John Powell also didn’t attend.

In March, the City Council voted 6-5 against expanding its existing non-discrimination ordinance to include gay, lesbian and transgender residents. The stumbling block was a provision that would allow transgender people to use the bathroom where they feel most comfortable.

After the ordinance was defeated, some members of the LGBT community said they would make the fall elections a priority and try and elect a council that would support the ordinance.

Democrat Billy Maddalon, who was appointed to finish the remainder of Patsy Kinsey’s term in 2013, said the rejection of the non-discrimination ordinance was a “wake up call” and part of his decision to run. He said he would support the non-discrimination ordinance.

Later in the forum, he said he would make sure the city’s upper management would support transgender employees.

“If the department managers don’t have a sense of fairness then we have a problem,” he said.

Like Maddalon, all candidates said they would support the ordinance, except for Democrat Laurence Bibbs, who said he needed to study the issue further.

Democrat Darrell Bonapart said supporting the ordinance is a “no-brainer.” Democrat Julie Eiselt said she would “unequivocally” support the ordinance. James Mitchell, a former Democratic council member, said he worked for LGBT issues on the national level when he was president of the National League of Cities.

Incumbent Vi Lyles, a Democrat who voted for the ordinance, said she would continue to be one of the six votes needed for passage. Shawn Greeson also said he would support the ordinance. Later in the forum, Greeson said he would work to keep people from becoming homeless.

Democrat Bruce Clark said he supports an “un-compromised” ordinance. He later said the city needs to be aggressive to make sure LGBT businesses receive city contracts.

Mo Idlibby, a Democrat, said he has worked to protect transgender residents as an immigration attorney.

Democrat Sean Gautam said he would also vote for the ordinance. In a later question about municipal IDs for undocumented immigrants, Gautam said he thinks the IDs are a “great idea” but there are issues that have to be addressed.

“There are two bills in the General Assembly that would render these forms of IDs unusable,” he said. “You need to work with your legislators as well.”

The two Republicans attending, David Michael Rice and Pablo Carvajal, also said they support the ordinance.

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs

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