Charlotte city council at-large: James Mitchell on the issues

James Mitchell
James Mitchell mhames@charlotteobserver.com

Name: James “Smuggie” Mitchell Jr.

What office are you running for? City Council At-Large

Party: Democrat

Neighborhood: Amber Leigh Community

Political Experience: Served on City Council as District 2 representative from 1999-2013. Past President of the National League of Cities (NLC), Past President of National Black Caucus of Local Elected officials (NBC-LEO), Past President of North Carolina Black Elected Municipal Officials (NCBEMO). Former Chairman of the National League of Cities Leadership Training Institute. Graduate of the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Family: Married to former NASA Astronaut Joan Higginbotham, and two blessings; daughters Kayla and Nicole Mitchell

Work Experience: Director of Business Development for Barton Malow Company since November 21, 2014.

Campaign contact: Mark Jerrell is my campaign manager; his mobile number is 704-258-8951. His email address is mdevin01@yahoo.com. The campaign website is www.votejamesmitchell.com.

1) Why are you running for office?

First, let me thank the citizens of District 2 for electing me to represent them for 14 years on the City Council. Now I’m very excited about the opportunity to represent all the citizens in our great City. I’m honored that leaders from the grass roots and business community encouraged me to seek public office again.

I’m a Charlotte native, graduated West Charlotte High School, and received my Bachelor of Business Administration Degree from North Carolina Central University. I pledge the Tau Psi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, and am a member East Stonewall AME Zion Church. I have two Blessings (Kayla and Nicole) and married to former NASA astronaut Joan Higginbotham.

Let me remind you what WE accomplished together. Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd, Rosa Park Transit Center, Northlake Mall, Metro Police Station, BB&T Ballpark, upgrades to the Carolina Panthers stadium, the new Charlotte Inclusion program , funding After-School programs, Mosaic Village, Greenway Business Park, Oakdale Road intersection improvement, Prosperity Church Road widening, Statesville Road widening, Nevin Road widening, Beatties Ford Road widening, Sunset Road intersection, bringing the CIAA basketball tournament to Charlotte, The Park at Oaklawn, Bright walk community, Beatties Ford/Trinity Park neighborhood improvements, Historic Washington Heights neighborhood improvements, McCrorey Heights improvements, Oakland Park neighborhood improvements, Biddlewood/Smallwood neighborhood improvements, and Lincoln Heights neighborhood improvements. And that’s just on the local level.

Through my working relationship with colleagues on the state level, Senator Joel Ford and I were able to obtain the $1.3 million dollars necessary for the Mt. Holly-Huntersville intersection improvement project. Because of close associations formed with other elected officials during my tenure as President of the National League of Cities, the Queen city was chosen to host the National League of Cities National Conference; resulting in a $5.2 million dollar impact on the local economy.

If elected, my priorities will be to create job opportunities, be a strong advocate for economic development, ensure that we have quality neighborhoods, take the lead on implementing recommendations from our Upward Mobility Task Force, and champion our Charlotte Inclusion Program to ensure minority and small businesses increase their participation with city projects.

So I humbly ask for your vote to allow me to continue to work for the betterment of Charlotte. I am an experienced leader with proven results.

2) What would be your top priorities if elected?

Create more job opportunities, champion economic development projects, increase opportunities for small businesses and address some of the recommendations from the Upward Mobility Task Force.

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?


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 prefer N.C. DOT to widen the highways with general purpose fee lanes.

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?


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?

I definitely support the increase in general sales tax to support the additional miles of the streetcar. I need to review the Transit Plan to see what the recommendation was to address the traffic issues for Lake Norman.

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?

Yes, because I believe historic buildings can be re-used for the right development project; especially if the structure frame is in good shape. The restrictions should only be used to support redevelopment, NOT to restrict redevelopment.

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?

City council should be commitment to providing affordable housing, especially in areas in our City where there is very little affordable housing. If the area plan is updated and reflects the current demographics of an area, then I think we should support the area plan.

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

Yes, I would like to develop a new economic development tool (proposed name - “Charlotte Helps Its Own”) under the Business Investment Grants Policy that would encourage ‘home-grown’ Charlotte firms to apply for funding to expand their companies and increase employment opportunities.

10) What makes you the best candidate?

My experienced leadership and proven results. I served on City Council for 14 years as the District 2 Representative, and was fortunate to accomplish numerous ‘wins’ for the citizens (Northlake Mall, Rosa Park Transit Center, Metro Police Station, Naming of Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd, and the Charlotte Knights BB&T Ball park….just to name a few.) See below for a more exhaustive list. I bring a perspective from business community, a strong passion for quality neighborhoods, and I’m a consensus builder; all I feel could be an asset to the council. I have good working relationships in Raleigh and Washington, DC, which I think could help our City in dealing with tough state and national issues. In addition, one of my best qualities is that I really enjoy working to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Charlotte.

▪ Northlake Mall

▪  Rosa Park Transit Center

▪  Naming of Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd

▪  Metro Police Station

▪  Funding for Mt. Holly-Huntersville intersection

▪  Stewart Creek Commercial development

▪  Mosaic Village

▪  Greenway Business Park

▪  Statesville Road Widening

▪  Prosperity Church Road Widening

▪  Beatties Ford Road Widening

▪  Beatties Ford Road/Trinity Park Neighborhood improvements

▪  The Park at Oaklawn

▪  Baker-Ivory Recreation Center

▪  Gold Line (Street Car) Beatties Ford Road

▪  Charlotte Inclusion Program (Minority Business)

▪  Charlotte Knights BB&T Ball park

▪  Carolina Panthers remain in Charlotte

▪  New Time Warner Cable arena

▪  Historic Washington Heights neighborhood improvements

▪  Biddle/Smallwood neighborhood improvements

▪  Eleanor Heights neighborhood improvements

▪  Historic McCrorey Heights neighborhood improvements

▪  Sunset Road Widening

11) What else should voters know about you?

In 2011, I was voted as the best Democratic elected official in America. When I received the Democratic Municipal Official of the Year Award.