To explain why he’s running for mayor, David Howard pulls out a stack of old newspapers and reports, a sort of scrapbook of his life.
There’s a 1997 Observer article that pegged him as part of a new generation of African-American leaders. A 1996 task force report on cruising that he wrote for the NAACP. A 1994 piece on Mothers of Murdered Offspring, a group he helped start after the killing of his godmother’s daughter.
I want people to understand that I’ve been involved in this community for a long time.
“I’ve been at it a long time,” Howard says at a conference table in his campaign office. “I want people to understand that I’ve been involved in this community for a long time.”
Howard, 45, is a native Charlottean finishing his third at-large term on City Council. He’s one of four major Democratic candidates in the Sept. 15 primary.
Since his election to the City Council in 2009, Howard has been an ally of former Mayor Anthony Foxx and an adversary of Foxx’s successor, Patrick Cannon.
Howard prides himself on his long involvement in the city. He’s a vice president of the Housing Partnership, a nonprofit that develops affordable housing, and a former chair of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission.
Howard has said he knew since the age of 9 that he wanted to run for office. He eagerly followed the career of Charlotte’s first black mayor. “I wanted to be Harvey Gantt,” he once said.
Now, Gantt and another former mayor, Eddie Knox, have endorsed Howard. Gantt said Howard knows the issues such as housing and transportation and has a vision for Charlotte’s future.
Howard said he wants to see the city continue to grow, particularly the east- and west-side areas that haven’t shared the city’s prosperity.
Charlotte is a great city. I’m just not sure we’re the best city we can be.
Family: Wife; four children; two grandchildren.
Education: B.A., UNC Charlotte, 1996.
Occupation: Senior vice president for the Housing Partnership.
Politics: City Council at-large, 2009-present.
Community service: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission, 2003-2009 (chair, 2007-2009); has served on boards of Charlotte Council of the Urban Land Institute, Steele Creek branch of the YMCA and Belmont Community Development Corp.
Worth knowing: Toured Europe in 2009 as a fellow with the German Marshall Fund and traveled to China in 2013 with the BMW Foundation’s Young Leaders program.
Meet the candidates in Charlotte’s mayoral primary
Read profiles of other candidates vying to be Charlotte’s next mayor in the Sept. 15 primary.