Elections

Charlotte’s mayoral candidates give their views on 4 key issues

DEMOCRATS

Joel Ford

Age: 48

Education: North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Business/Marketing

Professional experience: NC State Senator - VP Community Engagement, Cardinal Innovations Healthcare - Small Business Owner

Previous public offices held (if any): Chairman of Mecklenburg Democratic Party, Chairman of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Housing Authority

Family: Husband and Father

Website: http://JoelFordForMayor.com

The N.C. Department of Transportation is planning to build express lanes on I-77 south, U.S. 74 and I-485. Should those projects continue?

My preference is not to have toll roads. Unless the General Assembly appropriates public dollars, we must manage our current traffic congestion and growth. Until we find an alternative solution, the Department of Transportation should continue moving forward on current plans.

For years, a City Council priority was to disperse affordable housing throughout the city, to prevent it from being clustered together. The city has moved away from that policy in an attempt to build more housing quickly. Is that a good idea?

We should learn from the lessons of the past and not concentrate public housing like we did with Boulevard Homes, Dalton Village and Piedmont Courts. These are examples of what NOT to do. The Renaissance West Initiative is a model that works by providing an environment and amenities that elevate residents’ standards of living and help them thrive. It is based upon the idea of an education-centered, mixed-income community with programs and services to improve the quality of life and opportunities for its residents. Renaissance West is an example that works.

Do you support the city spending $30 million in hotel-motel money for a proposed Major League Soccer stadium?

At this time, I do not support the investment into a soccer stadium because we have more immediate needs in the city of Charlotte. While I do believe the project is worth consideration, the city faces much more critical issues such as affordable housing and economic mobility.

With homicides on the rise, what steps would you take to try to reduce crime? What has the current council NOT done?

We can’t police our way out of the current spike in crime, and we have to work to improve the relationship between law enforcement and the community. It’s time for new leadership and a bold vision to address Charlotte’s growing crime rate. I have outlined a detailed plan to address public safety and reform that includes: 1) Employment opportunities for all citizens 2) Better training and resources for police officers 3) Community policing programs 4) Criminal justice reform 5) Revitalization Learn more about my Five Point Policy Initiative on my website.

Constance Partee Johnson

Age: 55

Education: Double Masters, Master of Education/Guidance & Counseling from University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Master of Theology, Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago (Ivy League Seminary)

Professional experience: Publisher of Print and Online Political Newspaper

Previous public offices held (if any): Elected offices: President of Senior Class, Livingstone College, 1980; Clerk of Session, Trinity, Salisbury, NC, PCUSA Elected for Term, 1997-1999: National Delegate for the NAACP Representing Charlotte, NC 2005; Commissioner, PCUSA, Elected for term 2008-2009; Chair of Presbyterian Women Trinity, Salisbury, NC 2008; Synod Leader, Chicago ELCA Synod 2010

Website: www.johnsonformayor.us

The N.C. Department of Transportation is planning to build express lanes on I-77 south, U.S. 74 and I-485. Should those projects continue?

Yes, but not solely for vehicles carrying two or more passengers, but also provide a means by which citizens can pay added fees to drive in the lanes.

For years, a City Council priority was to disperse affordable housing throughout the city, to prevent it from being clustered together. The city has moved away from that policy in an attempt to build more housing quickly. Is that a good idea?

No. There should be a percentage of affordable homes planned for every new housing development such as those in the River District, as well as a planned number of affordable homes in specified existing housing developments.

Do you support the city spending $30 million in hotel-motel money for a proposed Major League Soccer stadium?

No. I propose revisiting bids for sizable cost savings for developing the MLS stadium.

With homicides on the rise, what steps would you take to try to reduce crime? What has the current council NOT done?

Crime comes from citizens neglect of wages and the overall neglect of economic development for populations within a city. I would lower homicides and crime by increasing what is directly correlated with the number of crimes, small businesses, focused on growing and providing opportunities to minority businesses.

Viola “Vi” Alexander Lyles

Age: 64

Education: Master’s of Public Administration, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill; Bachelor of Arts Political Science, Queens University

Professional experience: Flynn Heath Holt Consulting; Director of Lee Institute; City of Charlotte Assistant City Manager, Budget Director, Budget Analyst

Previous public offices held (if any): Current Mayor Pro Tem Charlotte City Council; elected 2013 and 2015 City Council At Large

Family: Two adult children and two two grandchildren

Website: vilyles.com

The N.C. Department of Transportation is planning to build express lanes on I-77 south, U.S. 74 and I-485. Should those projects continue?

My belief is that we need to look at the recent report released on the I-77 project and address those findings with the state. Charlotte’s position is to have managed lanes; however, these projects are state mandated.

For years, a City Council priority was to disperse affordable housing throughout the city, to prevent it from being clustered together. The city has moved away from that policy in an attempt to build more housing quickly. Is that a good idea?

I believe we need to continue providing scattered sites but we must also be committed to build in every corridor. It is not enough to build density; we must remain innovative in order to meet our needs. That is why I am working every day with our faith and non-profit communities and the private sector to address our needs while also specifically working to identify those families living in hotels to move them into housing.

Do you support the city spending $30 million in hotel-motel money for a proposed Major League Soccer stadium?

My belief is hospitality funding is best allocated when it expands our ability to attract conventions – the bread and butter of industry. I agree with the planned capital projects funded from the hospitality taxes: Discovery Place, Convention Center expansion and Spectrum Arena. I do not support a Major League Soccer stadium in the current proposal.

With homicides on the rise, what steps would you take to try to reduce crime? What has the current council NOT done?

I believe we need to take a holistic approach to public safety, addressing the larger issues such as lack of housing, inadequate jobs, and increased economic divides. We need to make the force more reflective of our communities and examine the way we are policing. Putting officers in neighborhood hot spots to establish relationships and putting them on walking beats can be determined by using data analytics on our current policing. When we build opportunities, we will improve public safety.

Lucille Puckett

Age: 49

Education: A.A., Bachelor in Social Work, Masters in Business Administration, HUD Certified Housing Commissioner, J.D of Law Coming

Previous public offices held (if any): Housing Authority Commissioner

The N.C. Department of Transportation is planning to build express lanes on I-77 south, U.S. 74 and I-485. Should those projects continue?

The plan needs to be reviewed with community input before moving forward and this is something that should have been so be in the beginning and maybe just maybe we would not be here.

For years, a City Council priority was to disperse affordable housing throughout the city, to prevent it from being clustered together. The city has moved away from that policy in an attempt to build more housing quickly. Is that a good idea?

No, this is a bad idea.

Do you support the city spending $30 million in hotel-motel money for a proposed Major League Soccer stadium?

No, I do not support this.

With homicides on the rise, what steps would you take to try to reduce crime? What has the current council NOT done?

We need more community engagement/involvement in all areas, but especially the one with the higher crime rates, work with the judicial system to have stricter penalties for those caught with illegal guns during commission of any crime and definitely after a crime has been committed. They need to build a trust between the elected officials, police department and the community. More job opportunities, along with true affordable housing. These would be a few good starting places.

The current council have done none of the above. They need to get out in these communities other than at election time and even then they do not truly engage or go to what the most would call troubled dark communities.

Jennifer Roberts

Age: 57

Education: Valedictorian at East Mecklenburg HS, Morehead Scholar at UNC Chapel Hill, Masters Degrees from Johns Hopkins SAIS & University of Toronto in International Relations and European History

Professional experience: Former: high school math teacher, foreign service officer in the Dominican Republic and the Office of Mexican Affairs, corporate lending officer with First Union, executive director of the Charlotte World Affairs Council. Current: Mayor of Charlotte

Previous public offices held (if any): Mecklenburg County Commissioner 2004-2012 (5 years as chair)

Family: Husband: Manley Roberts Children: Montana, Manley Jr.

Website: jenniferrobertsformayor.com

The N.C. Department of Transportation is planning to build express lanes on I-77 south, U.S. 74 and I-485. Should those projects continue?

I would not support these projects if they have contracts like the I-77 north contract with Cintra. Also, there should be at least 3 general purpose lanes before you add an express lane. Finally, the controversy with the tolls and the continued congestion shows that we have to do more to move people out of cars by supporting mixed use development, transit, and pedestrian options.

For years, a City Council priority was to disperse affordable housing throughout the city, to prevent it from being clustered together. The city has moved away from that policy in an attempt to build more housing quickly. Is that a good idea?

No, we should continue to find ways to build more housing options in every corner of our city to allow people to live closer to their workplaces and relieve congestion. No matter how we move forward, we need to follow the recommendation of the Opportunity Task Force and increase our affordable housing bonds to $50 million so that we can continue to build faster.

Do you support the city spending $30 million in hotel-motel money for a proposed Major League Soccer stadium?

No. I support the recent vote of the Economic Development Committee. We need to focus on priorities like public safety and housing.

With homicides on the rise, what steps would you take to try to reduce crime? What has the current council NOT done?

This issue is complex. There is no silver bullet. I’ve focused on three facets: youth, the police force, and domestic violence.

For our youth, we need more opportunities like afterschool, employment, and the Chief’s diversion program. We have to make sure that our youth have alternatives, and do everything we can to keep them out of the criminal justice system.

We’ve added 125 new officers who better reflect the communities in which they serve. Our recent police academy classes include more women. We’re making sure they get better training, including on dismantling racism, and we’re focusing on community engagement. I worked to include paid family leave in the budget so that we have more benefits to attract the best officers.

Finally, I’ve focused on domestic violence, which has been a factor in many of the homicides this year. Domestic violence is the number one cause of police calls, and the city can do more to prevent it.

REPUBLICANS

Kimberley Paige Barnette

Age: 52

Education: B.S. Criminal Justice

Professional experience: State of North Carolina-Magistrate 18 years 11 months, North Carolina Magistrates Association Assistant secretary, two years, North Carolina Magistrates Association secretary, one year

Previous public offices held (if any): Appointment of Magistrate

Family: Brittany Amber Hawk-daughter, Tyler Barnette Hawk-son, William Otis Barnette-father

The N.C. Department of Transportation is planning to build express lanes on I-77 south, U.S. 74 and I-485. Should those projects continue?

Yes, I agree these projects should continue.

For years, a City Council priority was to disperse affordable housing throughout the city, to prevent it from being clustered together. The city has moved away from that policy in an attempt to build more housing quickly. Is that a good idea?

No. I do not think it is a good idea to deviate from the original plan of dispersing affordable housing. This creates diversity.

Do you support the city spending $30 million in hotel-motel money for a proposed Major League Soccer stadium?

No.

With homicides on the rise, what steps would you take to try to reduce crime? What has the current council NOT done?

I would like to analyze statistical information before giving a response.

Gary Mitchell Dunn

Age: 63

Education: 19 years of college, 500+ seminars, 1,000+ special classes and trade classes

Professional experience: I have no experience as a politician, nothing in the past can prepare you for anything that could happen in the future. --- Nassim Nicholas Taleb (do you have a crystal ball to tell the future ?)

Previous public offices held (if any): None

Family: Yes, most of my kids are okay, my x-wives are sort of okay, my brothers are so-so, my dad is dead, my mother is bed ridden. And I don’t have a dog.

The N.C. Department of Transportation is planning to build express lanes on I-77 south, U.S. 74 and I-485. Should those projects continue?

No, these road improvements would NOT benefit Charlotte citizens, only commuters and transit employees. As mayor I would be working for the citizens of Charlotte. Express Lanes have never worked as an incentive to carpool. Bus lanes are a waste of (4) lanes on Hwy 74 and our bus system should be dissolved because it is worthless. Do the math; if you spend 2 hours on the bus to get to-from a job that pays less than $15.00 an hour, you would be better off not taking the bus even if it was FREE. You sacrifice dead time.

For years, a City Council priority was to disperse affordable housing throughout the city, to prevent it from being clustered together. The city has moved away from that policy in an attempt to build more housing quickly. Is that a good idea?

The City of Charlotte should not be in the housing market. Let the market organically adjust to the needs of the poor. If the housing is too expensive, several things start to happen; people leave or developers find the niche and build to suit the market. Maybe something else unpredictable will happen like some smart entrepreneur will convert ‘sea’ freight containers, stack them up and use them as super low cost housing units, but only if the city steps out of the way or helps them overcome the strict building codes. You can’t have it both ways.

Do you support the city spending $30 million in hotel-motel money for a proposed Major League Soccer stadium?

Give MLS a hundred year (year to year) lease on the old Eastland Mall property, as Mayor of Charlotte, I would not support spending money to bolster private enterprise. The impact of all the sports teams in the city account to less the 1% of revenue, and if they all disappeared tomorrow morning, again the impact would be less then 1%. As to the entertainment value added to the city, the effect is a negative 3% as most venues only pander to the upper 1/2 percent of the attending fans. The City of Charlotte would be wiser to building more adventure parks.

With homicides on the rise, what steps would you take to try to reduce crime? What has the current council NOT done?

“More storm troopers, more police, more security, more guns, hire guards, more night lights, cameras, surveillance of private and public places, taller fences until we live in a totally secure military state.” --- Adolf Hitler Or as Brian from ‘Pinky’s Restaurant (my political adviser) says: “clear the path for small business, and allow opportunities for self employment and start up business, by not requiring them to follow the Draconian laws/rules before they are able to support the burden. As most business fail in the first 6 years, give them a break on everything from Zoning, Taxes, Inspections, OSHA, Licenses, then if they survive bring them into the community. “Employed populace with an abundance of goods, is the best foundation for a crime free nation.” --- Adam Smith

Kenny Smith

Age: 44

Education: B.A. Communications Studies University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Professional experience: Commercial Real Estate Broker New South Properties of the Carolinas, LLC

Previous public offices held (if any): Current Council Member D6. Myers Park High School Student Body President

Family: Wife- Bridget, 8.5 year boy/girl twins Robert and Anne Gordon Son Kenny “mini Kenny”

Website: www.electkennysmith.com

The N.C. Department of Transportation is planning to build express lanes on I-77 south, U.S. 74 and I-485. Should those projects continue?

I voted against the I-77 toll project when brought before council in 2016. The Cintra contract places an unfair burden on our citizens in the form of a 50 year non-compete which prohibits the state from building general purpose lanes. As Mayor, I will work the general assembly and NC DOT to deliver Charlotte, the second fastest growing city in the country, the much-needed road capacity we require. Charlotte is a primary economic engine for North Carolina and we cannot afford the current congestion stranglehold on our streets.

For years, a City Council priority was to disperse affordable housing throughout the city, to prevent it from being clustered together. The city has moved away from that policy in an attempt to build more housing quickly. Is that a good idea?

Our city is at a crossroads with affordable housing. Current policy has city council committed to dispersing new units more evenly throughout the city and dramatically increasing the number of units. I believe the two are mutually exclusive and therefore I have been a leader in providing new, innovative ideas to solve Charlotte’s affordable housing needs. My plan is simple: create a land trust, expand bonding capacity for affordable housing projects, leverage private and nonprofit investment and prioritize investment and our affordable housing unit goals ahead of Charlotte’s dispersion policy. This problem can be solved but we need a Mayor who will lead on the issue and instead of playing petty politics.

Do you support the city spending $30 million in hotel-motel money for a proposed Major League Soccer stadium?

No. I would love to see Charlotte become an MLS city. Our sports teams have brought incredible energy, recognition and investment to our city. However, I do not believe we are in a position to invest these levels of taxpayer funds when our infrastructure is crumbling, crime has spiked and too many Charlotte families are in need. Additionally, we have existing commitments with long-time community partners such as Discovery Place competing for the same pool of resources.

With homicides on the rise, what steps would you take to try to reduce crime? What has the current council NOT done?

Crime is on the rise because our Mayor has failed to lead. She set the tone of failed leadership last year and I believe that has significantly contributed to the current spike in crime. We need a mayor who will support our law enforcement, give them the resources they need, and participate in a productive dialogue with people from all corners of our city. Unfortunately, our mayor has been more interested in focusing on the issues of the day in Washington DC than developing a proactive plan to combat crime in Charlotte.

  Comments