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Charlotte mayoral, council election coverage
Residents will vote for candidates for mayor, city council at-large and district races in the Sept. 10 primary.
The decision by four-term Democrat LaWana Mayfield to run at large has opened her District 3 seat for the first time in nearly a decade. Three Democrats are vying for the nomination with no Republican on the ticket.
It would be the first time in public office for all three of the candidates, all of whom are under 33.
Where it is
District 3 stretches from Freedom Drive and Mount Holly Road in the north to Lake Wylie in the south. Home to Charlotte Douglas International Airport, it includes pockets of west side poverty and thriving new commercial and residential areas in the southwest.
Nearly six in 10 of the district’s voters are Democrats. Even unaffiliated voters outnumber Republicans 2-1. Half the voters are African American.
Terry Brown, 32, is an attorney who attended UNC Charlotte and the J.D. Campbell School of Law. He’s spent 10 total years in Charlotte.
Brown said in an interview with the Observer that the crime rate is a result of the “lack of resources, opportunity, and inequity across our city,” and that the city needs to increase community-based policing.
He’s advocating for revamped infrastructure and transportation, including building sidewalks and pouring more resources into developing areas like District 3 to complement downtown development.
Brown said that he supports embracing a land-trust model, and that Charlotte needs to boost economic development and accessibility when addressing affordable housing.
“If we don’t address the increasingly unaffordable nature of Charlotte … we’ll never break the cycle of poverty and our housing issues will continue to worsen,” he said.
Brown said that the ballot item regarding the arts and parks was a county issue, not a city one, and questioned if now was the right time for the measure.
Brown practices corporate and product liability law at local firm Womble Bond Dickinson.
Caleb Theodros, 25, is the youngest candidate in the race, a first-generation American whose family moved to Charlotte when he was 11. After graduating from UNCC, he took jobs at Bank of America and Wells Fargo, but left the banking world to become a full-time community organizer.
Theodros cited his belief in increasing economic mobility to improve communities and discourage crime, including emphasizing manufacturing jobs that don’t require a college degree.
“We need to take away the stigma of manufacturing,” he said. “This isn’t the 1960s.”
He told the Observer that the city is at a time when it needs to “get ahead” of the affordable housing crisis by investing in land in strategic areas like future light rail expansion tracts.
Theodros does not support the ballot measure, and believes there are more efficient ways to fund the arts.
“Our leaders are not in tune with what’s going on with the neighborhood,” he said, and that both police and public officials need to spend more time in their communities to bolster relationships.
Theodros has degrees in economics and political science, and was Mayfield’s 2017 campaign manager.
Victoria Watlington, 31, has lived in Charlotte for 10 years. Watlington has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Florida and a master’s in engineering management from UNC Charlotte.
She’s used those degrees in management jobs at the Coca Cola Company and Procter & Gamble, where she also worked as an engineer. As vice chair of the City of Charlotte Civil Service Board, she’s worked with the police and fire departments on hiring, training and discipline programs for first responders.
She says that in her experience, many communities have more positive relationships with police and fire officials than perceived. Watlington is the only person in Charlotte to have graduated from all four city training academies.
Watlington has worked on coalitions to address displacement and home ownership, and supports land-trust housing. She also hopes to reconsider the Minimum Housing Code to prevent demolitions of lower-income housing, as well as to continue her involvement in local advocacy.
“That’s where you get the community, collective power, when you can not only advocate at a city council meeting, but get those plans into the budget,” Watlington said.
She did not express a position on the ballot measure increasing sales tax, only that voters should decide.
Watlington is also a licensed contractor, and has been featured in the Mecklenburg Times’ 50 Most Influential Women and the Charlotte Business Journal’s 2019 40 Under 40.