Elections

Charlotte’s District 4 City Council candidates give their views on 4 key issues

Staff reports

DEMOCRATS

Damiko Faulkner

Age: 39

Education: Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh PA Master of Divinity - Certification in Urban Ministry East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN Master of Arts in Professional Communication Concentration Speech - Cognitive area: Psychology Winston Salem State University, Winston Salem, NC Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication Concentration Public Relations/Advertising - Minor: Speech

Professional experience: 11 Years of Ministry, Pastor of Ben Salem Presbyterian Church 9 Years in Human Services, Human Services Professional/Supervisor Officer with Charlotte Community Builders Director of Ben Salem Community Corner Stone Inc. Chair of Community Affairs, Black Political Caucus

Previous public offices held (if any): None

Family: Wife, Niche’ Faulkner of 13 years, 2 Year old Son, Channing Damiko Faulkner

Website: votedamikofaulkner.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 have not decided definitively on the absolute solution regarding the express lanes on I-77 south, U.S. 74 AND I -485. With the number of people moving to Charlotte daily, transportation is a major concern; however we should continue exploring alternatives to avoid having to resort totaling due to the associated cost.

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 the City should consider dispersing affordable housing throughout the city. Although there is a heightened sense of urgency for housing that is affordable to those with incomes of various levels, I strongly believe that by dispersing affordable housing throughout the city, we can increase the chances of resources and accessibility resources being equal among more of Charlotte’s citizens.

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?

In order to reduce crime, I believe we need to continue working to make sure that more people have access to the necessary resources to be productive citizens, strengthen our officers on foot patrol, support mentoring programs that strive to make a difference in the lives of our young people, and continue working to build relationship between community and Law Enforcement. The City is making the effort to reduce crime; however the fight is far from over.

Priscilla Johnson

Education: CMS Schools, Central Piedmont Community College, Queens University

Professional experience: Retired Airline Employee after 30 years

Previous public offices held (if any): None

Family: Married, one child, three grandchildren

Website: VotePriscillaJohnson.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?

Tools which help manage traffic congestion are always welcome. We need express lanes to improve traffic mobility and travel time reliability. From I-485 to Rea Road, is a problematic part of the highway and considered one of the most congested in the state. US 74, often experience locked congestion. In addition, 1-77 in south Charlotte is now encountering 160,000 plus vehicles a day. Although the I-77 project is complex, there are added benefits. The entire highway must be overhauled and overhead bridges that cross it will be torn down and rebuilt, resulting in new infrastructure. Unlike tolls to Northern Mecklenburg, NCDOT will own and manage toll lanes, not an outside vendor. The state is in a position to add additional free lines without penalties.

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 don’t think so. Clustering perpetrates class and racial segregation. I support equal distribution of affordable housing for three major reasons. One, we need it for upward mobility. Two, equal distribution allows a municipality to de-cluster poverty and integrate by race and income, resulting in inter-generation mobility. Three, we need it for the schools, because CMS is having difficulties maintaining mix income which creates good outcome for all students.

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

No. I would not be comfortable with funding a Major League Soccer stadium, over badly needed affordable housing. In particularly, since city leaders outlined in the “Letter to the Community” a commitment to build 5,000 affordable units in three years.

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

What has the current council not done? I agree the homicide rate is up. Many of the cases we are experiencing are incidents where victim and perpetrator are known to one another. Many of the cases are domestic abuse and for this reason, I am advocate for initiatives which illuminate child abuse, family and partner abuse to encourage a better community response. Because the city’s rate of violent crime is up among juveniles, I support collaborative efforts among all governing bodies and Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department and the community to establish a Youth Advisory Board to combat drug and alcohol addiction and bullying in order to reduce truancy and gang recruitment.

Greg Phipps

Age: 64

Education: Graduate - Hampton University, Hampton, VA (BS) Marketing & Management; Southwestern Graduate School of Banking at SMU - Dallas, TX

Professional experience: Retired National Bank Examiner - Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)US Treasury Department; Former Member - DOJ Financial Crimes Task Force, Western District NC; Former Char-Meck Planning Commissioner

Previous public offices held (if any): Appointed in January 2005 to fill unexpired 10-month term for Charlotte City Council District 4

Family: Wife - Lemair and three adult children

Website: www.district4phipps.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?

Yes. For I-77 substantial construction has already started and the estimated $300 million cost to cancel the project is prohibitive. There is also uncertainty over how such a payment penalty would be funded given so many other transportation needs across NC. Use of optional toll lanes represents a choice for motorists. Lessons learned could inform improved due diligence for future contract negotiations, or the structure could be more palatable through State control ( toll authority). Bottom line, we need additional sources of revenue that tolls would provide to supplement dwindling traditional funding sources for roads.

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 disagree with the premise of this question. It remains a goal of the City to disperse affordable housing throughout. We currently have active lawsuits against the City to back this up. Indeed, there is sensitivity to clustering due to the misperception that affordable and workforce housing is a proxy for concentrated poverty. There are existing affordable housing units in areas that are in disrepair and need to be replaced with quality housing stock. Dilapidated trailer parks are being transformed into quality affordable housing options that befits the dignity of those who qualify to occupy them. Several developers are seeking to build quality workforce and senior housing along the BLE, something unheard of on the existing Blue Line in South End. We need additional financing tools and incentives to facilitate developer interest in building more affordable housing, and better educational efforts to dispel negative public attitudes. Both efforts are being addressed, but meanwhile the demand keeps growing. The Housing Locational Policy needs to be reviewed to determine if it is hindering our efforts rather than enhancing them as the City rapidly grows.

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

No. I believe these funds should be used to support existing facilities already in our inventory, along with others being considered after careful due diligence and vetting. I remain skeptical over sufficient community enthusiasm for major league soccer. The manner in which the opportunity for MLS was presented to the City was ill-timed given other pressing concerns that still remain.

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

I want to focus on reducing the number of firearms stolen from vehicles. These thefts are currently averaging around 50-guns a month! Think how quickly this simple property crime can escalate into a violent crime involving robbery, abduction, car-jacking, rape at gun-point or even murder. There are documented cases where this has happened. A simple solution to help mitigate the gun theft from autos problem is to encourage lawful gun owners to safely secure their weapons in a gun safe that can be installed inside the vehicle. Such a device made from 24-gauge steel with a 1,500 test-pound cable cord could be purchased for less than a box of high caliber ammunition. Whether open or concealed carry, there are places where a firearm is not allowed. As a result, guns have to be stored in vehicles. CMPD reports that some guns are stolen from unlocked vehicles, or taken from glove boxes easily broken into even when cars are locked. The gun safe could serve as a deterrent to the traditional smash and grab. I have been working closely with CMPD and gun retailers to highlight this problem. A major push by CMPD to promote enhanced vehicle firearm storage precautions will be introduced to the community soon.

The Council should consider engaging the entire faith community in efforts to reduce crime through congregational outreach, messages, and sermons.

Wil Russell

Age: 39

Education: Bachelor’s of Science, Building Construction - Auburn University

Professional experience: Project Manager for Rodgers

Previous public offices held (if any): None

Family: Wife and daughter

Website: www.wilrussell.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?

No, the NC Department of Transportation should discontinue the building of express lanes on I-77, US 74, and I-485. Adding more lanes to these highways will only induce more demand and add more cars to already congested roads. NC DOT should use the money budgeted for these projects to develop more transportation 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, clustering affordable housing in an attempt to build more housing quickly is a mistake. We need to aim for thoughtfulness, not speed, when developing more housing units. Concentrating these units in certain parts of the city will make affordable housing choices less, not more desirable for the residents who live in and around the housing clusters.

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

I do not support the city spending hotel-motel money for a Major League Soccer stadium. The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority has already committed $87 million to the Panthers renovations at Bank of America stadium, $50 million to the renovations at Spectrum arena and $100 million to the renovations of the Charlotte Convention Center. That’s $237 million dollars of commitments from a fund that is dependent upon tourism and full hotel rooms. Adding another big dollar commitment and ignoring more urgent needs like filling sidewalk gaps and providing police funding sends a truly bad signal to our city’s residents. I can’t support spending money on luxuries like a sports team when we aren’t meeting the needs of our citizens. Soccer is nice, but not when sidewalks are needed.

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

Charlotte should participate in the National Institute for Building Community Trust and Justice’s program which helps build trust between minority communities and the police department. This program also includes a Violence Reduction Intervention (VRI) component. For a VRI, the police department will first use “big data” to determine who is committing crime, and where it’s sourced. From there, the police department would meet and discuss the findings of big data with the affected community leaders. This leads to an intervention in which community leaders, the police department meet with targeted perpetrators and convince them to accept help in transistioning away from criminal activity. This program was used in Boston in 1996 to great success. It helped Boston cut their youth homicides by more than 70%. Charlotte needs to implement and maintain this type of program, if we seriously want to reduce crime.

  Comments