University City

Re-elected council member discusses University City goals

On Nov. 8, voters in District 4, which includes the University City area, re-elected City Council member Michael Barnes, a Democrat, to a fourth term.

Barnes tallied 10,491 votes, or 79 percent of the vote. It was a resounding defeat of his Republican challenger, Larry Shannon, who had 21 percent. It was the largest margin in any of the districts that were contested. Countywide, voter turnout was 16.2 percent.

After the election, Barnes said, "I feel good, and I appreciated the fact that we ran an extremely solid race." His campaign slogan was "Leading Charlotte to a Brighter Future."

As a former president of a University City-area neighborhood, I have seen first-hand how responsive Michael Barnes has been to residents of his district.

In an interview after the election, Barnes said his fourth term would be a time for more planning.

"We have to work and prepare for the Blue Line extension," he said. That light rail extension will transport people from uptown to UNC Charlotte. He also wants to advance the Red Line, which will run from uptown along Graham Street through Derita to the northern Mecklenburg towns of Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson.

Another goal for Barnes is to make sure there is positive development in the University City area. He does not want to see an increase in strip shopping centers as the major growth component.

"We know that the economy will eventually turn around, and the next wave of development should be positive from a retail, residential and commercial perspective," Barnes said. He said he believes zoning will play a major role. Remnants of the recession have left some empty storefronts, and Barnes wants those filled.

Barnes also plans to stay on top of the Interstate 485 extension that's under construction in District 4. The area has become more suburban, he said, but it also has some urban elements that are dynamic.

"We need road transportation that can meet the needs of people who live and work in this district," he said. "City funding is in place for the design phase of improvements to Back Creek Church and Johnston-Oehler roads."

Some very positive things are going on in the University City area, and Barnes said he is very pleased with all the development at UNCC. He also sees the development and job creation at University Research Park as very positive for the district and for Charlotte.

Barnes is a married father of three who practices law with his firm, Fuller and Barnes. The firm handles civil, employment and business law.

Regarding the 2012 Democratic National Convention coming to Charlotte, Barnes said, "... It is a tremendous opportunity for Charlotte to showcase itself and bring in revenue." He also expressed concerns that security issues need to be met.

Barnes said his list of goals is too long to outline in this column, but he also wanted to mention one more: He wants to find a more visible location for the University City Division of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

So in case you can help him with that one, or you have other questions or ideas, you can reach him at BarnesDistrict4@aol