Elections

Incumbent Egleston faces a newcomer for District 1 city council seat

Two Democrats will face off in the Sept. 10 primary for Charlotte City Council District 1, with newcomer Sean Smith challenging incumbent Larken Egleston. No Republican is running.
Two Democrats will face off in the Sept. 10 primary for Charlotte City Council District 1, with newcomer Sean Smith challenging incumbent Larken Egleston. No Republican is running. AP

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Two Democrats will face off in the Sept. 10 primary for Charlotte City Council District 1, with newcomer Sean Smith challenging incumbent Larken Egleston. No Republican is running.

Egleston was elected in 2017, taking the district seat held for 14 years by Patsy Kinsey.

Where it is

Central Charlotte’s District 1 covers much of uptown, stretching from Interstate 85 in the north to Woodlawn Road in the south. It contains many of Charlotte’s older established neighborhoods close to the center city like Dilworth, Plaza Midwood, Eastover and Belmont. A quarter of Charlotte’s jobs are located in District 1.

Who votes

One of the city’s most diverse districts, 30% of its voters are black and 15% are Hispanic. Democrats make up a little over 45% of voters, while more than a third are unaffiliated and less than a fifth are Republicans.

Who’s running

Larken Egleston, 36, has used his first term representing District 1 to vote to approve multiple affordable housing projects, developed the Green Seal Program to reward restaurants that implement environmentally friendly practices and chaired a city immigration committee that led Charlotte to become the first municipality to develop an immigration compact. His second-term bid’s platform includes the same policies as his first-term election: affordable housing, historic preservation, transportation and environmental sustainability.

In written responses to the Observer, Egleston said to reduce Charlotte’s crime, he wants the city council to prioritize filling police vacancies, training young men in conflict resolution and increasing mental health awareness. He said he supports efforts to continue increasing the affordable housing trust bond.

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Larken Egleston Gambol Photography

Egleston said he is hesitant to support the ballot question on raising Mecklenburg County’s sales taxes for arts, education and parks because there’s no guarantee the county commissioners will spend the money on these issues, especially if new commissioners are elected in 2020.

“I don’t think there’s been enough clarity as to who will be the decision makers and on how those revenue streams will be spent,” Egleston said in an interview with the Observer.

Egleston has lived in Charlotte for 15 years and is an alumnus of Johnson & Wales University and Appalachian State University. He works in sales for alcohol distributor Republic National and volunteers as a firefighter.

BEHIND OUR REPORTING

How we did this story

We asked each candidate running for Charlotte City Council to complete a questionnaire about themselves and their position on three important issues facing residents and the city. Every candidate received the same opportunity to answer via written statement a uniform set of questions. Some answers were minimally-edited for clarity and brevity. In most cases, those running for office also participated in interviews with reporters.

Additional elections coverage is available on the Charlotte Observer’s politics and government news page.

Sean Smith, 30, is running for office for the first time. An alumnus of N.C. State University, he has lived in Charlotte since 1996 and works for Wells Fargo as a digital designer.

Smith’s platform includes investing in small businesses to improve economic development, involving neighborhoods more in development projects and increasing revitalization to prevent displacement.

Sean Smith
Sean Smith is a Democratic candidate for District 1 member of the Charlotte City Council. The primary is on September 10, 2019. The general election is November 5, 2019. Sean Smith

In written responses to the Observer, Smith said he opposed the city council’s approval of the Republican National Convention coming to Charlotte because it could potentially make the city a target for riots and hate groups.

To prevent crime in the city, Smith said he supports sustainable small business opportunities for economic mobility. He said he thinks historic preservation and revitalization can help increase affordable housing units and offset gentrification.

“Inevitably, taxes and property values will rise, and long time residents will be left behind unless the city steps in to shield them,” he said. “If we could proactively support organizations that revitalize homes, people may not be as tempted to take $40,000 in cash and leave.”

Smith said he supports more funding for the arts, but he isn’t convinced the measure to increase Mecklenburg County sales tax guarantees the money will go toward its outlined causes.


Correction

An earlier version of this story understated how long Patsy Kinsey held the District 1 City Council seat. She was in the position for 14 years.

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