During his four years on Charlotte City Council, John Autry has been an advocate for the environment, raising wages of low-paid city workers and in redeveloping east Charlotte.
He is facing a challenge this year from Scott Derek Jenkins, a city employee who said District 5 needs more help.
“I don’t think John Autry has done enough,” Jenkins said about the incumbent. “I think we haven’t seen the type of economic activity we need on the east side or the west. There is a lot to be done.”
Jenkins, who works for the Charlotte Department of Transportation, ran for City Council at-large two years ago. He lost, but said he gained name recognition that will help him for this race.
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Jenkins said the Hickory Grove area needs a police substation, and the city needs to be more aggressive about redeveloping the Eastland Mall site. The mall used to be a destination and the city needs to make it an entertainment center again, he said.
“We need some ground-breaking things to happen with that,” he said. “Eastland Mall used to be the place to come to. We want it to be that again.”
Autry represents District 5, a diverse area that has struggled as many affluent residents have left. He has supported city plans to redevelop Eastland Mall and to bring an amateur sports complex that would be adjacent to Bojangles’ Coliseum.
Those projects haven’t succeeded, though the city is working to bring a K-8 magnet language school to the site. Autry said he’s still committed to the area.
Autry said he is also proud to lobby for the city’s new anti-profiling ordinance for police. He said he also meets with police captains regularly to “share the candor from within the community.”
Autry is also chairman of the council’s environmental committee. During his last term, he implored for his colleagues not to extend a city policy that allows developers to pay a fee instead of treating and managing storm water on-site. The measure, passed, however.
Autry was also one of the biggest advocates for expanding the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance to include LGBT residents. When the City Council proposed a more limited ordinance that would not give full protection to transgender residents, Autry voted against it.
There is no Republican or third-party candidate in the race.
Family: Wife, four children, 3 grandchildren.
Education: Majored in Theater Arts at Cal State-Fullerton.
Occupation: Chief technology officer for eMitigate.
Political experience: Elected to two terms on the Mecklenburg Soil and Water Conservation District in 2006 and 2010. City Council member 2011-present.
Community work: Board member of Coventry Woods Neighborhood Association; member of the NAACP; volunteer with numerous advocacy groups including, The N.C. Black Leadership Caucus and NOW.
Scott Derek Jenkins
Family: Married, three children.
Education: Attended San Bernardino Valley College, Calif.; Central Piedmont Community College.
Occupation: City of Charlotte, Charlotte Department of Transportation, senior store keeper/logistics.
Political experience: Ran for City Council at-large in 2013.
Community work: Army veteran; mentors two high school seniors a year.