Politics & Government

Six Democrats enter wide-open District 5 race to represent eastside

Six Democrats are running for the Charlotte City Council District 5, which covers much of east Charlotte, including the Eastland Mall site.

Dimple Ajmera, the current district council member, was appointed in January after John Autry left for the N.C. General Assembly. Ajmera is running for an at-large seat.

No Republicans are running so the winner of the Sept. 12 primary is virtually guaranteed to take the seat.

▪ Darrell Bonapart, a life insurance broker, narrowly lost a District 5 race six years ago, as well as an at-large attempt in the Democratic primary two years ago.

He said he hasn’t given up.

“There hasn’t been a time I thought it wasn’t meant to be,” he said. “The work that I have done, regardless of being on city council, what I have done in east Charlotte, far outweighs the time or experience any of the opponents have when it comes to east Charlotte.”

Bonapart, 48, is a retired military veteran who is on disability.

He said one way to improve east Charlotte is to have a special taxing district, like Center City Partners or University City Partners. Residents in those areas pay higher property taxes, but that extra money is used to help those areas.

He also said the city needs to better protect businesses impacted by the Independence Boulevard widening.

Bonapart’s campaign has not filed a campaign finance report in two years. The N.C. Board of Elections has twice fined him for not filing a campaign report.

▪ Kris Chambers-Woodruff, 29, an electromechanical technician, is running for public office for the first time.

A Navy veteran, Chambers-Woodruff said he is “the only candidate born and raised in east Charlotte.”

“When I came back from the Navy, I saw the same issues were still there,” he said. “I wanted to actually do something about it.”

He’s concerned about the lack of streetlights on Lawyers Road and flooding of homes. He also said the city needs to do more to help businesses impacted by the state’s construction along Independence Boulevard.

“I had a buddy who had a business on Independence Boulevard,” he said. “He had to move to west side. He could no longer run a business on the east side.”

He said the city should not have demolished Eastland Mall without having a plan first.

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▪  Gary Young, 32, works for Bank of America after being a consultant helping small businesses.

He said he has the ability to bring people together, and said those skills will help bring economic development to the district.

“Charlotte is all about relationships,” he said. “Charlotte has a lot of cultural and general divides, and you need individuals who can bridge that.”

He said the answers to issues like redeveloping Eastland Mall don’t have to come from the private sector.

“What about moving a new YMCA there, next to the new school?” he said.

He said he would push for light rail for east Charlotte.

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Gary Young

▪ Matt Newton, 38, an attorney, worked four years ago for changes to the Citizens Review Board, which hears complaints from residents unhappy with police disciplinary decisions. Critics say the board has failed to provide effective oversight.

“I have a track record (of getting things done),” he said.

Newton said he would work to ensure District 5 gets its share city spending on roads and sidewalks. He said areas closer to uptown are given a higher priority.

“We have a lot of needs in District 5,” he said. “I feel like we have been put at the back of the line. We need to be more of a priority in the city.”

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Matt Newton

▪ Scott Derek Jenkins, 52, works for Charlotte Douglas International Airport in the logistics department. He is also a military veteran.

He said his primary goal is to “bring Eastland back.” He said the area needs more transportation options.

The area’s crime rate needs to lowered first, he said. He wants the area to have a new police substation as close to Eastland as possible.

“We need to show we are serious (about fighting crime),” he said.

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Scott Derek Jenkins

▪  Vinroy Reid, an immigrant from Jamaica, couldn’t be reached for comment. Reid is a member of the city’s Business Inclusion Advisory Committee and he has radio and television shows “The Caribbean Connection.”

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs

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