Local

Groups announce LGBT push for city elections

Former City Council member James Mitchell was endorsed for one of four at-large seats in the Sept. 15 primary. Equality NC, MeckPAC and the Human Rights Campaign said they would be spending time and money to elect LGBT-friendly candidates in this fall’s elections.
Former City Council member James Mitchell was endorsed for one of four at-large seats in the Sept. 15 primary. Equality NC, MeckPAC and the Human Rights Campaign said they would be spending time and money to elect LGBT-friendly candidates in this fall’s elections. Steve Harrison/sharrison@charlotteobserver.com

Three groups supporting protections for gay, lesbian and transgender residents announced an effort Wednesday to elect City Council candidates who will vote to expand Charlotte’s non-discrimination ordinance.

Equality NC, MeckPAC and the Human Rights Campaign said they would be spending time and money to elect LGBT-friendly candidates in this fall’s elections. One organizer, Chris Sgro of Eqality NC, said it will be the largest electoral effort the organizations have made.

The groups endorsed four Democratic candidates for the four City Council at-large seats: Incumbent Vi Lyles, former council members Billy Maddalon and James Mitchell, and Julie Eiselt.

There are eight other Democrats running for the at-large seats, and many of them are also passionate about expanding the city’s non-discrimination ordinance – an effort that failed in March.

But Sgro said the endorsements were made in part based on what he said were strategic decisions. Maddalon and Eiselt are leading fundraisers, and Lyles is an incumbent. Mitchell served on the council for 14 years.

“Protections must be a priority for the next City Council,” said Scott Bishop of MeckPAC, a Charlotte LGBT lobbying group.

In March, the City Council voted 6-5 against adding LGBT residents to the city’s existing non-discrimination ordinance.

Sgro said the groups will man phone banks and knock on doors. They will also send direct mail supporting the candidates and could donate money to them directly, Sgro said.

He declined to say how much money they plan to spend overall.

The groups did not make an endorsement for mayor. Sgro said individual groups such as MeckPAC may make mayoral endorsements.

On the Democratic side, there are four prominent candidates: Mayor Dan Clodfelter; Mayor Pro Tem Michael Barnes; at-large council members David Howard; and former County Commissioner Jennifer Roberts.

Roberts and Clodfelter support all provisions in the proposed ordinance, including one that would allow transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice. Howard opposes the bathroom provision, though he said at a recent forum that he would not use a mayoral veto if that passed.

Barnes is opposed to the bathroom provision and also voted against the ordinance after that was removed.

On the Republican side, Scott Stone has said he is against expanding the non-discrimination ordinance.

Edwin Peacock has said he was opposed to Amendment 1, which made it unconstitutional to perform same-sex marriages in N.C. He said “I would not have supported adding several new protected classes to the non-discrimination ordinance for public accommodations.”

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs

  Comments