Name: Mo Idlibby
What office are you running for? City Council at-large
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Neighborhood: Old Stone Crossing
Political Experience: Appointed by Charlotte's Mayor (one of six  At-Large Appointees) to serve on the Immigrant Integration Task Force; Served on President Obama's Obama For America NC Legal Team in 2008 and 2012; Served as Mayor Anthony Foxx's "Reggie Love" (right-hand man) in his first Mayoral campaign. When I announced I was running, Anthony Foxx and his wife, Samara, called me and congratulated me on my decision and gave me a lot of great advice; and Served two 3-year terms on the Board of Directors for the Latin American Coalition, fighting for legal rights for ALL.
Note: I have not previously ran for or otherwise sought public, elected office.
Family: Married. Wife: Maria Idlibby (originally from Mexico); Daughter: Vida Idlibby (9 years-old, just started 4th-grade); My wife, Maria, is also currently 4-months pregnant; we recently found out the gender -- we're having a Lil' Mo!
Work Experience: Trial Attorney (Criminal Defense and Immigration/Deportation Defense) at UFC Law - United Firm of Carolina Law, 2009 - Present; High School Football & Basketball Referee in CMS-area. 2004 - Present; Realtor / Broker, Wilkinson & Associates. 2005 - 2009; Legal Intern, District Attorney's Office (Union County), 2008; Legal Intern, Ferguson, Stein, Chambers, & Sumter, 2008; Legal Intern, Duke Energy Legal Department, 2007.
1. Why are you running for office?
I am running for Charlotte City Council At-Large because I feel compelled to give back to the city that has made me who I am -- the city that I have grown up in since elementary school. I am a proud product of CMS, and all of my education has been Charlotte-based.
This is not only the city where I obtained all of my education (from Hornets Nest Elementary, to Davidson I.B. Middle School, to North Mecklenburg High School, to Davidson College, to Charlotte School of Law), but it's also the city where I've obtained all of my legal experience. Charlotte is also the city where I was able to climb out of graduating -- at the height of the recession -- with over $200,000 in student debt and build a successful business (my law firm).
I come from humble beginnings, where my parents, as first-generation immigrants, came here escaping violence while my mom was 7-months pregnant with me. I believe this is destiny for me. I grew up watching my father sell food out of the back of his old beat-up car -- just to try to make ends meet. I ate free school lunches all throughout my childhood. I will never forget the struggle that I've experienced and endured throughout my life in order to get to where I am today. Now, I feel so compelled to give back to the city that has made me the man, the husband, and the father that I am today.
2. What would be your top priorities if elected?
My top priorities are:
1. Jobs / Economic Development / Education. The most important issue facing our community is JOBS and ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. With good jobs, folks will have access to AFFORDABLE HOUSING; with good jobs, our folks will have access to AFFORDABLE TRANSPORTATION; with good jobs, folks will be busy earning an income instead of committing crimes. As such, this will increase PUBLIC SAFETY, and our community will be safer. I promise to FIGHT for GOOD JOBS and make our ECONOMY STRONGER! And, the way to get good jobs is to have a GREAT EDUCATION. As such, I will fight to ensure that every child in Charlotte has EQUAL ACCESS and EQUAL OPPORTUNITY to a GREAT EDUCATION.";
2. Expanding Transportation Options. We have to provide and expand affordable transportation options, especially East-to-West, not just North-to-South. I would also support a regional transportation model;
3. Affordable Housing. We must accommodate and properly plan for the spurt of growth our city is experiencing -- a strong component of that is to ensure we have sufficient affordable housing options;
4. Public Safety. As a Trial Attorney, I dealt with the criminal justice system on virtually a daily basis. We must ensure that we provide our new CMPD Chief, Kerr Putney, with all the tools necessary to keep our community and neighborhoods safe; and
5. Clean Air & Clean Water. Everyone in our Charlotte community -- whether in the north, south, east, or west -- deserves to have clean air and clean water.
3. Would you support the city's proposed expansion of its non-discrimination ordinance to include the LGBT community, including a provision that would allow transgender residents to use the bathroom of their choice?
Yes. To me, this is an issue of fundamental fairness and equality -- it is a fundamental, core issue of Equal Rights for ALL.
If elected, I will always fight for Equal Rights for ALL -- irrespective of race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, religion, national origin, color, or any other inherent trait or characteristic.
It is sad that, in 2015, with a majority Democratic City Council, our City could not get said Ordinances passed with the updated language adding the protected classes. I will fight to change that and lead this effort.
4. Do you support the N.C. DOT's plans to add express toll lanes to Interstate 485 in south Charlotte and U.S. 74? Or would you prefer to widen the highways with general-purpose free lanes?
While I do not support the concept of tolls in general, in terms of answering this question, I would support the NC DOT's plans to add express toll lanes to I-485 and US 74, as opposed to widening the highways with general-purpose free lanes.
Express lanes are designated lanes that allow drivers to choose to pay a toll for more reliable, rapid travel through a corridor. As I understand it, transit vehicles and eligible carpoolers with three or more occupants, among others, may use the express lanes free of charge.
We are facing an increasing demand to improve our infrastructure to accommodate our growing population. As I understand it, express lanes are emerging as the most practical solution for improving mobility and creating more sustainable economic vitality in urban, highly congested corridors such as ours in the Queen City. Express lanes also apparently provide a longer-term management solution than more traditional improvements.
Finally, express lanes apparently do not cause traffic to stop, and the folks who will be using and benefiting from them will be the folks paying for them. This will help to address and hopefully resolve the growing problem of traffic congestion in those areas.
5. Would you support spending hospitality tax dollars to renovate or rebuild the county owned Memorial Stadium in hopes of the city winning a Major League Soccer franchise?
Because this doesn't raise the general public's taxes, yes, I would support spending *hospitality* tax dollars to renovate or rebuild the *county* owned Memorial Stadium in hopes of the *city* winning a Major League Soccer franchise.
This doesn't come out of property taxes -- it comes form the revenues of the hospitality industry. It doesn't raise the general public's taxes, and it doesn't hit the tax-payers in their pocket-book. As such, yes, I would support it, as it will likely result in great revenue for our city, while also providing great entertainment for Charlotteans. It doesn't put any additional burden on the tax-payers, and it would benefit the city.
6. Would you support an increase in the general sales tax to support more transit projects, such as additional miles of streetcar and a commuter train to Lake Norman?
While I support expanding transportation options in Charlotte, especially the East-to-West transportation network, I would not support increasing the general sales tax for a transit line to Lake Norman. As a Charlotte City Councilman At-Large, I will have a responsibility to serve -- and look out for the best interests of -- the residents of *Charlotte*.
I can't emphasize enough how important and how critical it is that we do create transportation options for our East-t0-West transportation network.
While I would support seeking revenues from other sources (federal, state, or otherwise) to support transit projects outside of Charlotte, I would not support increasing the general sales tax for projects outside of Charlotte. I do not want to increase taxes on our Charlotte taxpayers.
I would seek revenues from other sources, including federal, state, and other resources to support such projects.
7. There has been a significant amount of redevelopment in neighbors close to uptown, with older, sometimes historic buildings being demolished for new apartments. Would you support more restrictions on tear-downs?
Our population has nearly doubled in the last two decades. As such, we need good, affordable housing options to accommodate this growth, and they have to be housing options that are up to and comply with the code, with livable conditions -- not old buildings that don't meet the code and that pose risk and harm to our Charlotteans residing in such buildings. Under such circumstances, it can be necessary to redevelop. We have to also make sure that we are not uprooting communities during such redevelopment.
There are over one million people in Charlotte-proper. Because of the growth and development of our community, we have had to increase our housing capacity for our growth and development. It is a delicate balance with the criteria that the historic districts commission has now -- what can be raised and what can be saved. I would also strongly consider the recommendations of the historic districts commission, as they sort through their criteria. We must have affordable housing options to accommodate the growth we are experiencing. It is a delicate situation, but we have to ensure that we do it correctly. Some developments or redevelopments are essential to accommodate the growth, while other older, sometimes historic, buildings must be preserved. If the buildings are up to code and they can be maintained, then we have to find that proper balance.
8. A goal of the city is to increase affordable housing. In some instances, however, the City Council is asked to approve rezoning requests for low-income apartments, even when an area plan says single-family homes should be built on a site. Should the council follow the area plan recommendations or approve multi-family projects to increase affordability?
Affordable housing is an essential, integral component of community planning in Charlotte. This is the overriding factor that will dictate whether we override a particular zoning.
No one component of our city should carry the responsibility for affordable housing alone. That's why mixed-use housing plans have been instituted to mix certain incomes with market rates -- that's how we can address this problem.
Market rate housing mixed with affordable housing. We have better communities this way.
This will always be a very case-specific and fact-specific inquiry and analysis based on the totality of the circumstances. Each development or rezoning request must be evaluated on its own merits, based on the specific facts and the totality of the circumstances. It's a case-by-case scenario. There are no two scenarios that are identical. As such, we have to adjust accordingly.
9. Should the city change its guidelines for offering Business Investment Grants for companies considering expanding or relocating to Charlotte?
As a general rule, the guidelines for offering Business Investment Program ("BIP") Grants are acceptable; however, perhaps they might be tweaked a bit.
The current guidelines of the BIP require "a minimum investment of $3 million," and "a minimum of 20 new jobs must be created."
In return, the grants last for three years and are based upon new property tax generated by the investment:
Year 1: 90% of new property tax
Year 2: 90% of new property tax
Year 3: 90% of new property tax
I would first recommend that, perhaps, the 20 new jobs language should be "20 new *Charlotte* jobs," as the current language does not require those jobs to be in Charlotte. As such:
1. Not just a certain number of jobs created; rather a certain number of *Charlotte* jobs created.
2. After the initial minimum threshold, perhaps the minimum number of jobs created should be proportionate to the amount of the tax break we are giving them (since it is a percentage -- 90% -- and not a fixed number). If there is a way to do that while still being competitive with our neighbors, then I would want to find a way to do that.
10. What makes you the best candidate?
Simply put, I have the best and most unique combination of skills -- legal, business, economic, management, leadership, and negotiation skills. No other candidate has this skill-set combination. Depending on how the Mayoral race shakes out, and if I win, then I could be the only attorney on the entire Charlotte City Council. Having an attorney on Council is absolutely critical as we consider, listen, review, analyze, and vet through the issues. I'm the most well-rounded, most experienced with the law, most enthusiastic, most energetic candidate. I'm the only candidate with the legal knowledge and legal experience to fight for the equal rights of ALL Charlotteans. I'm a small business owner, who has created, operated, and managed a very successful law firm. I am the most uniquely-positioned candidate who can unify all of Charlotte together -- I have always been a unifier all my life. Given my unique background, including that my wife is originally from Mexico, I am uniquely-positioned to be able to bring international business partners to Charlotte while also fighting for the small business owners and everyone else's legal rights.
11. What else should voters know about you?
I am a doer. I'm reliable. I'm respected. I'm honest. I'm a principled, strong leader. I ask you to keep everyone accountable, and I start with myself. I'm a Charlottean. As such, I have Charlotte's best interests in mind.
I'm a fighter for what's right -- even when the cause is unpopular. I'm a zealous advocate who fights for everyone's qual rights and equal protections under the law. In fact, I've been recognized for my hard work as an attorney -- I've been selected as one of the: Top 100 Trial Lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers Association; and Top 100 Trial Attorneys by the American Academy of Trial Attorneys.
I have been serving CMS and the students in our community for the last decade as a high school football and basketball varsity referee.
I was an All-State football player and wrestler at North Mecklenburg High School. I also played football and wrestled at Davidson College.
At Davidson College, I wrote my Thesis on "The Importance of Listening." I strongly believe the best leaders are the best listeners, and I promise to be just that -- the best listener.
I'm a fighter for teachers. Education is the important thing in life. Teachers are arguably the most powerful and most influential people in the world -- because they shape minds. As such, we need to ensure that our children have the best teachers and EQUAL OPPORTUNITY to a GREAT EDUCATION.