Politics & Government

Outspoken Charlotte council member Claire Fallon says she won’t run for re-election

Charlotte City Council at-large member Claire Fallon said Thursday she will not seek re-election in November 2017.
Charlotte City Council at-large member Claire Fallon said Thursday she will not seek re-election in November 2017. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte City Council at-large member Claire Fallon, who is in her third term, said she will not run for re-election in November 2017.

Fallon, a Democrat, has been one of the council’s most independent members. She has sometimes sided with the council’s two Republicans on high-profile issues such as opposing the streetcar and voting against allowing transgender individuals to use the bathroom of their gender identity.

In 2015, Fallon did vote for a nondiscrimination ordinance that protected the LGBT community, but without the bathroom provision.

Last year she voted against the city budget because it contained a small property tax increase.

Fallon is 81. She said she isn’t running again because of her age, but because she feels stymied.

“I feel like I’ve done everything I can do,” she said Thursday. “I can’t get anything more done.”

She said she will finish her term, which ends in December 2017.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Fallon said. “I still have a year and a half.”

Earlier this year, Fallon was at the center of a controversy at the Charlotte Fire Department. Fallon had hired Marty Puckett, the vice president of the Charlotte Firefighters Association Local 660, to act as an unpaid assistant.

Puckett and Fallon are both critics of Fire Chief Jon Hannan. Fallon recently sent an e-mail to council members and the media that said Hannan should be fired, a statement that bothered some council members. Fellow Democrat LaWana Mayfield explored whether the council could censure her over her comments.

City Manager Ron Carlee told Puckett he could no longer work for Fallon, because council members aren’t allowed to have city employees reporting to them. That letter – which is part of Puckett’s confidential personnel file – was leaked to the news media.

Hannan, the fire chief, later said he released the document. Carlee put him on probation.

Fallon had been the chair of the council’s community safety committee, which oversees police and fire. But new Mayor Jennifer Roberts replaced Fallon in December with Julie Eiselt, a move that upset Fallon. She stopped coming to the committee’s meetings for a time.

Fallon said Thursday she’s pleased the council will likely fund a new fire department ladder company for the Northlake Mall area. Carlee has recommended council members fund the company in the fiscal year 2017 budget.

Fallon, who moved to the city from New York, lives in northeast Charlotte. She was a founder of the NorthEast Coalition, an umbrella organization of homeowners associations.

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs