N.C. Senate District 38: Candidates want more opportunity for district’s residents

Opportunity is a major concern for candidates in the Senate district that reaches from western Mecklenburg County through north Charlotte into the University City area.

Incumbent Joel Ford is being challenged by Democrat Roderick Davis in the March 15 primary. The winner faces Republican Richard Rivette in November.

More than half of the district’s registered voters are African-American (close to 56 percent) and about 35 percent are white, according to a 2011 report from the N.C. General Assembly.

A majority of the district’s 115,000 registered voters – nearly 63 percent – are Democrats. Here is some of what the candidates said they want to do for those voters:

The incumbent

Ford says he is passionate about supporting small businesses because of their potential for boosting economic development and job growth.

“Small business represents the largest employer in our state,” he said. Small businesses provide nearly half of private-sector employment, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

Transportation and infrastructure are also priorities for Ford. He speaks with pride about working with state and city officials to get $1 million allocated for road improvements at the intersection of Brookshire Boulevard and Mount Holly-Huntersville Road in northwest Charlotte.

The challenger

Davis, a Charlotte native, was born in the district. He declined to be interviewd by phone. In an email, he wrote: “Once elected, I plan to make some amendments to current bills as well as submit new bills that will impact the citizens in this district and state.”

Where the candidates stand

Davis: His website lists his chief concerns as economic growth, tax reform and change within the criminal justice system to address racism. He is against toll roads on the area’s interstates and proposes creation of a “free graduate university” as a way to reduce the cost of visits to lawyers and doctors.

Ford: Priorities include economic development that focuses on creating jobs with good wages. He believes those jobs are important for strengthening the middle class, which could improve access to safe communities as well as quality health care and education. Other priorities are transportation and infrastructure.

Records checks

Davis: Davis was found guilty of a worthless check charge in 2014 and possession of stolen property in 2005, a search of public records showed. He was twice found guilty of marijuana possession, most recently in 2012.

Ford: His own small businesses included Premier Holdings Group and Ford Container Industries. Neither is active today, and therecession created a turbulent environment for those enterprises, Ford said.

A $90,000 judgment was awarded to Bank of America in 2007 against Ford and two partners at Premier Holdings Group, a search of public records shows. The judgment is listed as unpaid.

A $37,000 judgment was awarded to the city of Charlotte in 2007 against Ford Container Industries, a search of public records shows. According to a city letter to Ford, the city has recovered its money.

Ford said he faced a foreclosure in 2006 because of “business not generating enough income to cover those obligations.” He said he has learned to be a better businessman because of his experiences in turbulent financial times. Staff researcher Maria David contributed.

Karen Sullivan: 704-358-5532, @Sullivan_kms

Roderick Davis

Age: 32.

Education: Says he is enrolled in Southern New Hampshire University, which offers online programs, seeking a bachelor’s degree in public administration.

Professional experience: Says he is CEO of The American Royal Family Inc. It’s not clear what the business does, and it does not appear to have a website.

Political resume: Candidate in the 2015 mayoral race.

Family: Single.

Website: www.roderickdavis.com.

Joel D. Ford

Age: 47.

Education: N.C. A&T State University, bachelor’s degree, business administration.

Professional experience: Operations executive, StoneLaurel, Charlotte.

Political resume: Elected to state Senate in 2012. Chairman of the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party, 2008-2011.

Family: Married to the former Deborah Lane. The couple have one daughter.

Website: www.votejoelford.com.