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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.
Incumbent Matt Newton faces two challengers in next month’s Democratic primary in Charlotte City Council’s most diverse district, and one of its most challenged.
Newton, in his first term, is being challenged by Mark Vincent and Vinroy Reid. With no Republican in the race, the primary winner will automatically get the seat.
Where it is
District 5 is in east Charlotte, the area roughly east of Sharon Amity Road and north of Monroe Road.
It’s one of the city’s most diverse areas. It has the city’s highest percentage — 23% — of Hispanic residents. Forty-four percent of the district is African American, 38% white and 5% Asian, according to the city.
It’s also the district with a lower average income than any other. Just 40% of households have an annual income of $50,000 or higher.
Democrats make up 56% of registered voters. Republicans comprise less than 13%. Three out of 10 voters are unaffiliated.
Almost half the voters are black. Fewer than one out three is white.
About the candidates
Newton, who turns 40 this week, won his seat in a 2017 runoff against Democrat Darrell Bonapart. An attorney, he serves on the council’s Economic Development, Neighborhood Development, Environment, and Immigration committees.
Newton has had a voice in major issues facing not only his district but by the city. He’s helped identify ways to pay for the extensions of light rail and the streetcar through his district. He said he’s helped secure millions for infrastructure improvement. And he said the city is finally close to having a redevelopment plan for the former Eastland Mall, whose 2013 demolition created a nearly 70-acre scar.
“This is bigger than just the site itself,” he said. “Eastland is the catalyst for the entire area. We are certainly closer today than we have ever been before.”
Newton said he’s proud of smaller accomplishments such as street lights, sidewalks and neighborhood police patrols.
Reid, 47, ran in 2017 and finished last among six candidates in the district primary.
He has lived in Charlotte since 1972. He’s a licensed general contractor, who said that he plans to use his knowledge of the buying and construction world to lead his district during times of change.
Vincent, 52, is a native of Compton, Calif., who’s been in North Carolina for 20 years.
He works as a electrical technician after spending nearly a decade helping manage telecommunications systems and networks in the U.S. Army, where he served two tours in Iraq.
Having never run for office, he sees it now as a duty. “People have been complaining about the system,” he said. “Right now it feels the country is under attack again, and it’s my duty as an American to defend my country.”
He said he wants to help bring jobs to east Charlotte.
“The whole city is developing except for the east side,” he said. “And that’s where most of the minorities live.”
On the issues
Q. With homicide and other violent crime on the rise, what steps would you take to try to reduce crime? What has the current council NOT done?
Newton: We must work with county, judicial, and nonprofit partners to address and foster alternatives to crime. This would include afterschool initiatives and dispute resolution/anger management programming. More specific to the city, it would include housing, job creation/workforce development, and improved public transit to provide the economic mobility opportunities that steer folks away from criminal activity. Although the council has made strides towards bridging the community/law enforcement divide, it can do more to promote positive interactions between officers and the community, support community watch efforts, and recruit minority officers. We must also explore ways to get guns off the streets.
Reid: Charlotte’s crime rate stems from citizens not feeling safe or secure in their homes, with the threat of being pushed out.
Vincent: Introduce into the community good paying unskilled jobs. Recently we had a murder over 5 dollars. People who have upward movement would not lose all they have over 5 dollars. People who have nothing care about nothing, so finding jobs that pays a living salary for unskilled workers will solve some of the problems.
Q. What should the city do that it is not doing already to increase the amount of affordable housing and offset the pressures of gentrification?
Newton: The city should create a front-end alternative to the current affordable housing process by identifying land that meets housing framework goals and soliciting developers to build there. One way of doing this is by acquiring a targeted piece of land and then offsetting the purchase price to a developer selected through a blind bidding process that also lowers costs. To combat gentrification, more emphasis should be placed on affordable housing preservation and funding should continue to the aging in place program. Both are cost-effective ways of helping residents stay in their homes amid rising property values.
Reid: The root of crime starts from two things. One, the citizens do not feel safe. Affordable housing that people can actually purchase and become a homeowner. They are going to have a vested interest in protecting that area they are a part of. If you have a lot of these developers that are buying up property that families have been in for 30, 40 years. Putting them in an extended hotel.
Vincent: The city has passed a tax hike for housing services, but the majority will go to developers to increase their profits on the current market rates for Charlotte inner city housing. If any of that money is invested into housing it will be placed outside of the city (and) easy access to public transportation, which is just another burden to the displaced minority once again. I propose affordable housing in the 5th district where most of the city’s minority and immigrants live.