Politics & Government

Charlotte mayoral hopefuls address west side issues

Leaders in the Historic West End hope to see more new development like Johnson C. Smith University’s Mosaic Village mixed-use project at 1601 West Trade St.
Leaders in the Historic West End hope to see more new development like Johnson C. Smith University’s Mosaic Village mixed-use project at 1601 West Trade St. mhames@charlotteobserver.com

Five mayoral candidates went to a west Charlotte landmark Thursday night and pledged to revitalize under-served areas with new jobs, increased safety and more opportunities.

Republican Edwin Peacock joined four Democratic candidates at a Johnson C. Smith University forum. It was called “Mayors Matter & Corridors Count.”

The candidates addressed perceptions that the west side has been overlooked by generations of city leaders. They also addressed areas such as economic development, housing, public safety and schools, and argued that each was interconnected.

The four Democrats – Michael Barnes, Dan Clodfelter, David Howard and Jennifer Roberts – all touted the streetcar as a vital tool in the revitalization. Plans call for the streetcar, which now runs from uptown to Elizabeth, to extend west along Beatties Ford Road and east down Central Avenue.

“It’s not just about transportation,” Roberts told a packed auditorium at Biddle Hall. “It’s also about spurring economic development and bringing jobs.”

Howard talked about the skyline view from Mosaic Village, a university housing complex on Beatties Ford.

“These corridors have the same potential as any in the city,” he said.

Barnes predicted private development would follow the streetcar, particularly between JCSU and Interstate 77.

Clodfelter said the streetcar would spur development much like the light rail line. Unlike the Blue Line, he said, it would bring more pedestrian-friendly development. And he said the city could open more land for development by working with the state to reconfigure the I-77/Beatties Ford interchange.

This part of Charlotte is as critical as the others. We’ve got to adopt the attitude that we’re all in this together.

Republican Edwin Peacock

Peacock, who described himself as “the fly in the punch,” was the lone streetcar opponent. He said with fellow Republicans controlling the purse strings in Raleigh and Washington, there’s no guarantee of continued funding.

“What is Plan B?” he asked.

His answer: “Creative planning.” But he also stressed other mass transit options and other economic development tools such as grants to improve derelict buildings.

“This part of Charlotte is as critical as the others,” he said. “We’ve got to adopt the attitude that we’re all in this together.”

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