Charlotte mayoral candidate Dan Clodfelter on the issues

Dan Clodfelter Elevator Speech

Mayor Dan Clodfelter explains why he should be elected to a new term in the office.
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Mayor Dan Clodfelter explains why he should be elected to a new term in the office.

Name: Daniel G. (Dan) Clodfelter

Position: Charlotte Mayor

Party: Democrat

Neighborhood: Elizabeth

Political experience: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission, 1984-1987, member and then chairman; Charlotte City Council, District One, 1987-1993; North Carolina Senate, 1999-2014; Charlotte Mayor, 2014--

Family: Married to my wife of 41 years, Elizabeth Bevan. We have two adult daughters, Julia and Catherine.

Work experience: Law clerk, Hon. James B. McMillan, Jr., 1977-1978; Attorney, Moore & Van Allen, PLLC, 1978-2014; Attorney, Parker, Poe Adams & Bernstein, LLP, 2014-

Campaign contact: www.danclodfelter.com; campaign office: (704) 768-2143

1) Why are you running for office?

I believe our City is experiencing some major tranformations -- primarily economic and demographic -- that will require us to rethink many of the governance principles and structures that have served us well since the last time of great transformation -- the late 1960's and early 1970's. We will have to become more regional in our large-scale thinking and actions and also more open and inclusive in our local decision-making. I have spent my adult life experiencing and living the "Charlotte success story," and now I want to be part of shaping the policies and the systems that will be needed for that success story to continue for the next generation.

2) What would be your top priorities if elected?

I am already deeply committed to and involved in the work that has commenced in the last year on the challenge of economic opportunity and mobility, having spent a significant amount of time on initiatives such as the Economic Opportunity Task force and the My Brothers' Keeper call to action. This will continue to be a major priority.

Second, I want to begin the process of opening the necessary regional dialogue with the State and surrounding cities and counties about how we can finance our regional transportation needs, including our long-range transit plan, through regional funding sources and regional prioritization of projects. This will be a multi-year effort, and we have to get started now, or we will wake up to find that the completion of the Blue Line Extention in 2017 may just be the "end of the line" for transit.

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. I first voted to support a non-discrimination ordinance relative to LGBT citizens when I served on City Council in 1992.

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?

I am not persuaded that the proposed US 74 managed lane concept is either necessary or workable and have opened discussion with NCDOT and local CRTPO officials to try to better understand why they seem to think otherwise. My study of I-485 is not yet as far along, but there are some serious conceptual problems with that project as well. Even though US 74 and I-485 would be state-operated and constructed, and would not involve any of the issues that have been raised concerning the I-77 public-private partnership, there are nonetheless some significant design and concept problems with both projects.

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?

I think a different location than Memorial Stadium would be a better long-term option for major league soccer, but Memorial Stadium could serve as a good interim facility until a better permanent site is developed. There are, at present, substantial outstanding demands on the city's hospitality tax revenues, and I would need to be convinced we have sufficient financing capacity in those revenues before I could commit to using them for an interim upgrade at Memorial Stadium.

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?

The question poses too simple a choice. I have been working on a different model -- one adapted, with some changes, from the one used by the Denver metro area when it confronted the need to build a new regional airport. To go forward with our 2030 transit plan will, I believe, require that we regionalize the method of financing and include our transit projects along with other regional transportatin projects in a system of priorities that are funded by a regional revenue source. This would mean asking the General Assembly to authorize a regional revenue levy that is collected in multiple jurisdictions and is then spent on regional transportation priorities, including not only transit but also portions of the road network that need to be advanced.

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?

Zoning ordinances are already permitted to address and regulate matters of massing, scale, and bulk in relation to surrounding properties, but it does not seem that we have the will to apply these considerations when evaluating rezoning petitions. It may not be so much a question of needing more restrictions as it is needing to be more committed to using the tools we have. A problem that still plagues some of our older neighborhoods is that they still carry residues from the 1960's and 1970's of "overzoning," that is, they are zoned for a higher intensity than currently prevails or than is called for by subsequently adopted area plans. This legacy zoning from the past provides an incentive for many tear-downs.

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?

This does not permit a blanket all-or-nothing answer. Many things come into play in connection with a particular zoning decision -- e.g., how old is the area plan, have conditions changed since it was adopted, does the site provide a particularly good opportunity for affordable housing, and so on. Having said that, I do think there seems to be less commitment today to the value of providing affordable workforce housing in all parts of the community -- not just concentrated in a few areas -- than there was when I last served on City Council.

9) Should the city change its guidelines for offering Business Investment Grants for companies considering expanding or relocating to Charlotte?

Yes, modifications are needed. The City's incentive grants are based on the total amount of capital investment -- which is understandable since the grant amount is funded from the property tax revenue generated by the investment. But the City's principal goal is to encourage investment that creates employment, and the number and quality of jobs does not always closely correlate with the amount of capital investment being made by the grant applicant. We might consider modifications that link the level of the incentive grant to the number and quality of jobs being created. Grants are based on the amount of property tax dollars generated; thus, an investment that yields few jobs might get a grant that is a lower percentage of the tax revenue generated than another investment of the same dollar amount that generates more local jobs.

10) What makes you the best candidate?

I believe I have the strongest and most complete package of talents needed for the present time -- long experience of what has worked and not worked, a deep appreciation of our community's history and how we got where we are today and what that means for our future, an understanding of Charlotte's place in North Carolina and how we must navigate the transition of our State from a predominantly rural one to a predominantly urban one, an openness to divergent ideas and new approaches to old problems and a commitment to work with anyone who steps forward with a good idea, a willingness to "think big" about our City's future, all of that joined to a proven track record of pragmatic, solutions-oriented leadership.