Opinion

City Council, mayor must initiate HB2 compromise

Mayor Jennifer Roberts declined in September to take up Charlotte’s non-discrimination ordinance.
Mayor Jennifer Roberts declined in September to take up Charlotte’s non-discrimination ordinance. jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

The author, a Republican, represents District 105 in the N.C. House.

Election Day is behind us and North Carolina voters have spoken. Now that the attack ads and campaign tactics are over, it is time for elected leaders at all levels to work together to develop sensible solutions that will rectify the impasse our city and state have faced over the past several months.

Some politicians, specifically many Democratic members of the Charlotte City Council, had hoped that the 2016 election would be a referendum on House Bill 2. Their hopes were dashed as Republicans held super majorities in both chambers of the legislature and now have a majority of seats on the Council of State. Of the two pick-ups of Republican-leaning House seats in Charlotte and Raleigh, neither Democratic victor campaigned on HB2. Certainly, this issue remains a concern of voters and impacted the decision of some, but not as many as some Democrats had hoped.

A few weeks ago, it appeared that a compromise was in sight which would have provided a reset – HB2 goes away if the Charlotte bathroom ordinance goes away. Unfortunately, some City Council members were convinced by people in their party that HB2 was politically a winning issue statewide and they needed to “hold the line” – regardless of the potential of losing the ACC Championship. Make no mistake, at that point on the calendar, the ACC Championship could have been saved. Now that the elections are over, members of Charlotte City Council must recognize that political stalling on any possible solution is no longer advantageous.

Resolutions for this issue should start where the conflict originated – in Charlotte. The bathroom ordinance set into place by the Charlotte mayor and City Council, which claimed unauthorized power over businesses that operate in Charlotte, is what set this dilemma into motion. To be clear, many members of the North Carolina House and Senate have been willing to discuss this issue. It is the mayor who has been unwilling to even have a meeting to explore a possible solution.

Mayor Jennifer Roberts and Charlotte City Council, in light of the continued public relations cloud that have impacted our state and most specifically our city, should be willing to reach across the aisle to seek a compromise. I can assure each of them that an attempt to find a solution would be met in good faith.

Charlotte is positioned to have a period of growth and prosperity unlike any time in history. The refusal by Mayor Roberts to engage in constructive dialogue cannot continue. We are past the point of playing political games as this conflict is impeding Charlotte’s ability to realize its full potential for success. It is time to stop putting politics ahead of the people. By working together, I believe we can reach a resolution that will benefit all Charlotteans and allow our community to move forward.

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