Elections

Republican mayoral hopefuls Stone, Peacock clash on Charlotte streetcar

Confetti hangs on Charlotte's first streetcar in 77 years following a ribbon cutting ceremony and inaugural ride on Tuesday, July 14, 2015.
Confetti hangs on Charlotte's first streetcar in 77 years following a ribbon cutting ceremony and inaugural ride on Tuesday, July 14, 2015. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Republican mayoral candidate Scott Stone said Monday fellow Republican and opponent Edwin Peacock hasn’t consistently opposed the streetcar.

Peacock countered by saying he has always been against the project and pointed to his voting against the project on multiple occasions six years ago.

Stone and Peacock are trying to win the Sept. 15 primary and become the Republican nominee. Among many Republican voters, the streetcar, or Gold Line, is a questionable project, and both Stone and Peacock have criticized it.

Stone pointed to two votes Peacock took that, in some ways, supported the streetcar.

One was the city’s fiscal year 2010 budget and capital spending plan, which included $8 million in city funding. Two years later, Peacock voted for the fiscal year 2012 budget, which Stone said included another $2.5 million in streetcar funding.

“Mr. Peacock has cited the streetcar as an example of wasteful spending, yet he has voted to provide the project with millions of dollars in funding,” Stone said in a news release.

The streetcar first became controversial in 2009, when the City Council first considered making it a city funded project, rather than one funded from the half-cent sales tax for transit.

Peacock cited a June 2009 vote in which he moved to remove $8 million in streetcar funding from the fiscal year 2010 budget and earmark the money for road resurfacing. He was joined by the council’s other three Republicans, but the motion was defeated.

A week later, Peacock voted for the entire budget, along with former Republican council member John Lassiter. Peacock noted that former Republican mayor Pat McCrory did not veto that budget, even though it contained streetcar funding.

In August of that year, Peacock voted with the three other Republicans not to spend $4.5 million for the streetcar.

That was defeated, but McCrory vetoed the spending measure. A month later, the Democratic majority on the City Council overturned McCrory’s veto. Peacock voted with the Republican minority against spending the streetcar money but lost.

“It’s clear my opponent does not know the difference between budgeting and spending, and it’s clear that he does not understand the budget process,” Peacock said. “This should raise serious questions in the minds of voters on his qualification to seek the position of mayor of Charlotte.”

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs

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