Republican Edwin Peacock entered the home stretch of Charlotte’s mayoral race Wednesday with ideas to fight crime, cut spending and expand opportunity – but without an opponent.
Peacock appeared at a luncheon sponsored by the Charlotte Chamber’s SouthPark Chapter. It had been billed as a “mayoral candidate discussion,” but Jennifer Roberts, who won Tuesday’s Democratic runoff, was not there. She was making funeral arrangements for her father, who died Saturday.
The two face off in four weeks on Nov. 3.
Asked what distinguishes them from each other, Peacock cited the 2011 Mecklenburg County property revaluation which occurred while Roberts chaired the county board. The revaluation was flawed and had to be redone at a net cost to the county of about $45 million.
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Much of the blame was put on then-County Manager Harry Jones, who was fired by commissioners after Roberts left the board in 2012.
“The property revaluation was a real clear (difference),” Peacock said. “My opponent was clearly challenged at that point and not willing to make strong decisions.”
Roberts’ campaign declined to comment.
With Chamber executive Natalie English, Peacock discussed other issues:
Public safety: He promised to appoint a task force during his first 100 days to identify ways to address a recent spike in crime. Among other things, he would take each city council members on ride-alongs with the police.
“Charlotte has a growing crime problem,” he said. “But we don’t have a comprehensive plan to address it.”
Taxes: Peacock chided the current council for raising property taxes twice in three years. He said he would push for lower spending as a way to keep the city affordable and competitive, particularly with “our frenemies” in South Carolina.
Asked where he would cut, he said he would look for more opportunities for “functional consolidation” with the county.
The streetcar: Unlike Roberts, Peacock has opposed the streetcar. He said supporters are holding out too much hope for future funding to expand the line. He said expansion is not “fiscally feasible.”
“What’s Plan B?” he asked. “I want us to have a 21st Century transportation plan, not a 19th Century one.”
East and west side development: He said he would redirect money intended for corridor improvements away from the streetcar and back to corridors.
He would also use city grants to improve building facades and work with police on code enforcement.
Affordable housing: He pointed to mixed-use developments like those in First Ward that both fit in with neighborhoods and give people affordable places to live.
“I want to see it spread across all four corners of Charlotte,” he said.
Getting along with the legislature: Asked about the city’s struggles with the General Assembly, Peacock said as a Republican he could get along with GOP lawmakers who run the legislature.
“The problem has to be framed that what is in the best interest of Charlotte is also in the best interests of North Carolina,” he said.