New 12th District gives Mecklenburg voters a voice – and a choice

Alma Adams
Alma Adams jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

For U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, there are still two 12th Congressional Districts.

One runs from Charlotte up Interstate 85 to Greensboro. The other, newer version lies within Mecklenburg, encompassing 80 percent of the county.

Adams, a Democrat elected in 2014, continues to represent the longer district. But she’s running to represent the newer one, which lawmakers created earlier this year.

She faces Republican Leon Threatt, an ex-Marine and former police officer who now co-pastors a Charlotte church. He ran for the seat in 2014 but lost to Vince Coakley in the GOP primary.

The candidates differ on most issues, including their choice of presidential candidates.

Adams has appeared at events for Democrat Hillary Clinton here, and even in Ohio. This month she was on the dais at Davidson College at a rally for vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine.

Threatt has spoken at rallies for Republican Donald Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence.

Adams, 70, lived in Greensboro for much of her life before moving to Charlotte after the new district was created this year. A long-time fine arts teacher, she served on the Greensboro City Council and Guilford County school board before being elected to 11 terms in the state House.

Known for her colorful hats, she became the 100th woman to serve in the 113th Congress.

Threatt, 58, joined the Marines after high school and served in posts from North Carolina to the Pacific. In 1982, he began a public ministry “evangelizing the lost and preaching the uncompromising Word of God” in Okinawa and later at bases stateside. He returned to North Carolina in 1987.

In Charlotte, Threatt joined the police department. Eventually, he and his wife Carol started Christian Faith Assembly, a church on Idlewild Road.

Adams is a heavy favorite in the district where Democrats outnumber Republicans more than 2-1. But she and Threatt offer voters a clear choice.

▪ HB2. Though a state, not federal issue, the candidates differ sharply. Adams opposes the N.C. law that nullified a Charlotte anti-discrimination ordinance and requires transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender on their birth certificate in government buildings.

Threatt backs the law. “I really believe that HB2 is an honest, fair and legitimate response to the City Council’s overreach (and) putting our women and children in harm’s way,” he told a group earlier this year.

▪ Investigating CMPD. In a debate this month on Charlotte’s WTVI, both candidates were asked in the debate about the September shooting of Keith Lamont Scott by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer.

Threatt criticized Adams and the Congressional Black Caucus for asking the U.S. Justice Department to investigate CMPD’s handling of the shooting. he called it a premature “over-reach.”

Adams said the Justice Department has looked into similar cases around the country and several community leaders had asked her to call for a federal inquiry. “I think it brings more transparency to the process,” she said.

▪ Voter ID. Adams has been a vocal opponent of the state law that would have made sweeping election changes, including requiring voters to have picture IDs. The law was thrown out by a federal appeals court.

Threatt defended the law, which supporters said would help prevent voter fraud. “We have to have IDs for almost everything,” he said.

▪ Obamacare.” Threatt calls it “an absolute failure” that must be repealed.

Adams defended the law, saying it could be improved. “If you have a crack in the wall, you don’t tear the wall down. You repair it.”

Leon Threatt

Hometown: Born in Monroe, now lives in Matthews.

Education: International Bible Seminary; BA in Theology; Master’s in Ministry and a Doctorate of Practical Theology from the Master’s School of Divinity.

Family: Wife, Carol; three children.

Job: Pastor, Christian Faith Assembly.

Politics: Ran for 12th District in 2014.

Worth knowing: Likes to ride a Harley-Davidson.

Alma Adams

Hometown: Greensboro.

Education: N.C. A&T, B.A. and master’s degree in art history, Ph.D. in art education and multicultural education from Ohio State University.

Family: Divorced, with two children and four grandchildren.

Job: Retired art professor, Bennett College.

Politics: U.S. House, 2014-present; N.C. House, 1994-2014; Greensboro City Council, 1987-1994; Greensboro school board, 1984-1986.

Worth knowing: In 2014, she became the 100th woman to serve in the U.S. House.