Five Charlotte mayoral candidates tossed out their stump speeches Tuesday night as they tried to outline their visions with 20 slides and only 400 seconds.
The format was called PechaKucha. It featured candidates speaking against a backdrop of 20 images, each displayed for 20 seconds. The audience nearly filled Spirit Square’s McGlohon Theater.
The results were often revealing.
▪ Mayor Dan Clodfelter, a Democrat, imagined a future with a greenway system and parks like New York City’s Highline, built on an abandoned railway spur.
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Against a backdrop of the Plaza-Midwood gas station that became Fuel Pizza, he envisioned a pedestrian-friendly city eager to reinvent itself, one open to innovation and the arts. “We are not just a banking center,” he said.
▪ With pictures from his childhood, Democrat David Howard described the city in which he grew up and prospered. His pictures chronicled the city’s growth.
“I am Charlotte’s story,” he said. “I want to make sure everybody has the opportunities for success I had.”
▪ Republican Edwin Peacock also recalled growing up in Charlotte, with pictures of the city he knew when “Bennigans was high cuisine.” And the one where he now rides his skateboard.
To drive home the notion of a “seamless city,” he showed images of the westside and an under-construction Independence Boulevard.
“My vision for Charlotte is to see it prosper in all four corners,” he said.
▪ Democrat Jennifer Roberts chose some pictures of her career as a prep, three-sport athlete, and the basketball court where she played with her brothers.
“It taught me that (how) to succeed as the only girl in the game was to be tougher, smarter and work harder,” said Roberts, the only woman in the mayor’s race.
▪ Showing pictures of himself and his family, Republican Scott Stone cast himself as the outsider in a race full of politicians, someone who could bring a business perspective to the job.
“We continue to have the same people running and we get the same results,” he said.
Tuesday’s event, aimed at younger voters, was sponsored by a group called We’re the Future, We Vote and the Charlotte Agenda, an online news site.
WTF founder Amy Chiou came up with the idea after going to plenty of more traditional forums, which she found dull. Introducing the candidates, she encouraged her audience of several hundred to get involved.
“We really need to vote,” she said. “It’s still the best measure of what’s important to us as a community.”