District 7 is one of Charlotte’s fastest-growing City Council districts, stretching across the southeast part of the city from Pineville to Matthews down to the South Carolina line.
The question is, who would best represent it?
Incumbent Ed Driggs, a Republican, is confident he represents the interests of the district’s heavily Republican and suburban neighborhoods.
Democrat Chris Turner disagrees.
“The distinction that I’m drawing, and what made me want to get into this race, was that he’s not listening to all his constituents,” she says.
Turner has an uphill fight.
No Democrat has ever represented what is one of Charlotte’s most reliably Republican districts. Four in 10 voters are Republican. Only 1 in 4 voters is a Democrat. The rest are unaffiliated.
Turner, 69, believes she can. Her Web page pictures her superimposed over a fractured map of the district under the headline, “Parting the Red Sea.”
Though it’s her first run for office, she has led her Burning Tree neighborhood association and been active in community groups. She’s on the local steering committee of the Human Rights Campaign and was a founding member of MeckPAC, an advocacy group for the LGBT community.
Turner is pushing “smart growth,” more jobs, transportation alternatives and affordable housing. She would put more teeth into the Citizens Review Board, which reviews allegations of police misconduct. And she would vote for an anti-discrimination ordinance that failed to pass council earlier this year.
On that she differs with Driggs, who voted against it.
“I felt I represented the position of by far the majority of my district,” Driggs says. “And there was no way to make everybody happy in the district.”
Driggs, 66, is one of two Republicans on the 11-member council. A retired banker with economics degrees from Princeton and Oxford, he co-chairs the Environment and Budget committees and chairs the Intergovernmental Committee, a post that’s made him a liaison with the GOP-controlled General Assembly.
Driggs voted against the current budget that had a tax increase. He says development, by straining roads and other infrastructure, is the biggest challenge in a district that accounts for a quarter of the city’s residential tax base.
“Growth is causing our roads to be overcrowded, and the city’s not doing anything about it,” he says. “People are afraid that we’re going to end up with total gridlock if we’re not careful.”
Family: Wife, Caroline; two grown children.
Occupation: Retired bank executive.
Education: Princeton University, A.B. in economics, 1971; Free University of Berlin, economics studies, 1971-1972; Oxford University, studied mathematical economics studies, 1972-1974.
Community involvement: Serves on the boards of Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont and Blumenthal Performing Arts Center; former member of board of Communities in Schools; six-year member of board of WTVI, two as chairman; member of the President’s Council at Central Piedmont Community College.
Politics: Elected to City Council in 2013; ran for Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners in 2012.
Family: Domestic partner, Abby Kerr.
Education: Attended CPCC.
Occupation: Retired systems analyst for Allstate.
Community involvement: Charlotte steering committee for the Human Rights Campaign; Founding member, MeckPAC; former president, Burning Tree Homeowner’s Association; board, Mecklenburg Ministries; founding member, Circle Up (support organization for women with breast cancer).
Politics: First run for office.
On the ballot
The general election is Nov. 3. Find more details, including early voting sites, at charlotteobserver.com/election.
Here are key races:
Charlotte mayor: Democrat Jennifer Roberts and Republican Edwin Peacock square off.
Charlotte City Council: Democrats Julie Eiselt, Claire Fallon, Vi Lyles and James Mitchell face Republicans Pablo Carvajal, John Powell and David Rice for four at-large council seats. There also are races in Districts 2, 3, 4 and 7.
School board: Mecklenburg County voters will elect three at-large members.
Commissioners’ terms: Voters will decide in a referendum whether to extend the terms of county commissioners from two to four years.
Mecklenburg County towns, other counties: Voters across the region will decide on a variety of races, including mayors, town boards and school boards.
Early voting: Cast your ballot early through Saturday. Mecklenburg County has 17 sites. CPCC, 1325 E. Seventh St., is open 8 a.m.-7 p.m. through Friday. The other sites are open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. All 17 sites are open 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday. As of Monday, 4,846 voters have voted early in Mecklenburg County.