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Charlotte mayor hopeful Jennifer Roberts runs hard to return to office

dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

Last May, Jennifer Roberts began what might be one of the longest mayoral campaigns Charlotte has seen.

Weeks after Patrick Cannon resigned after his arrest on federal corruption charges in late March, Roberts announced at Freedom Park that she would run.

“A lot of people were encouraging me to get back into public service,” said Roberts, who served on the County Commission for eight years.

She said she approached the City Council about being appointed to finish Cannon’s term, but Roberts said she wasn’t interested in having to pledge not run for the office in the fall of 2015.

Since then, Roberts has been an active fundraiser, raising more than $334,000.

Her main message: The city needs to expand economic opportunity.

“We need to work very hard to make sure we are working to expand opportunity to every corner,” Roberts said.

Roberts has said she wants residents to know that the city has programs and resources to help small business and other start-ups.

We need to work very hard to make sure we are working to expand opportunity to every corner. We need to work very hard to create jobs at all levels. We need hourly and entry level positions.”

Jennifer Roberts

Roberts served on the County Commission from 2004 to 2012, and was generally supportive of county staff. That included a period when former County Manager Harry Jones was being criticized for a property revaluation and problems at the county social services agencies.

Jones was fired about six months after Roberts stepped down from the commission.

“I learned that we could have been more transparent earlier on some of the issues that arose,” she said. “Every huge organization will have issues that will develop.” Steve Harrison

Jennifer Roberts

Age: 55

Hometown: Raleigh, grew up in Charlotte.

Family: Husband, two children.

Education: UNC Chapel Hill, English and math major, Summa Cum Laude; University of Toronto, masters degree in European history; Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Masters in international affairs.

Occupation: Community advocate, consultant

Political experience: County Commissioner, 2004-2012.

Community Service: Board president of International House; vice president of the Choir School at St. Peter’s; leadership council for United Negro College Fund; raised money for domestic violence shelter on West Boulevard.

Worth knowing: “I played four years of varsity volleyball at Chapel Hill. I was captain my senior year.”

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