The North Carolina Influencer Series

You've asked for solutions. Before you vote, we've started a project to help find them.

The Knight Foundation is launching a new arts grant in Charlotte. Grant recipients can get up to $25,000 for arts projects that showcase the spirit of Charlotte.
The Knight Foundation is launching a new arts grant in Charlotte. Grant recipients can get up to $25,000 for arts projects that showcase the spirit of Charlotte. Observer File Photo

North Carolina in general and Charlotte in particular are the envy of many other states because of our vibrant and growing economy, our status as a financial center and our position as one of the top places to live and work in the country. But there are many challenges and much more potential.

The upcoming Nov. 6 election will put many of those issues and that potential in sharp focus. We have heard from you over and over that you want to hear about solutions, have a better understanding of where the candidates stand on issues that mean the most and are increasingly fed-up with the negativity that surrounds many elections.

As a newcomer to the area and to The Charlotte Observer, I’m very excited to be part of the launch of a significant project. The Charlotte Observer, with the (Raleigh) News & Observer and The Herald-Sun in Durham, is launching what I believe is an important and long-lasting conversation between you and important thought leaders throughout the state. We are calling it the North Carolina Influencers Series.

Rodney Mahone is the new publisher of the Charlotte Observer. File photo

We have assembled 60 North Carolinians who will discuss the issues and engage in a thoughtful conversation over the next five months until Election Day. They represent all parts of our community. Some are large employers, some represent employees and others own small businesses. Some are academic leaders and some lead community organizations. They include leaders in the faith community as well as people who have dedicated their careers to public service in our states.

Our Influencers include four former governors, the CEOs of Duke Energy, Atrium Health, Lending Tree and El Centro Hispano, among others; chancellors of N.C. State University and UNC-Chapel Hill, two Bishops, activists, professors and thought leaders of all kinds. Here is the complete list.

In the end, however, it is you who will make the difference.

This week The Charlotte Observer will send a survey to our subscribers asking what issues are most important to you this election year. We also want to know what questions you have for our Influencers.

To capture your questions both this week and until Election Day, we also are launching a new tool called "Your Voice" that will be embedded into our online stories and make this process both engaging and easy for you to participate.

What you tell us through this tool will help shape conversations that Influencers will have at live public events, where they will discuss solutions to the issues you identify.

Our goal is simple. We want the best for North Carolina. We know you do as well.

How our elected leaders tackle important issues such as economic mobility, education funding, transportation, affordable housing, smart management of growth, and much more will set our state’s and region’s path for years to come. We invite you to join us in elevating critical policy discussions and working to make sure candidates focus on issues that truly matter.

Rodney Mahone is the publisher of The Charlotte Observer.