Editorial: Our picks in Charlotte City Council district races

The Observer editorial board

Charlotte City Council members Al Austin, LaWana Mayfield and John Autry
Charlotte City Council members Al Austin, LaWana Mayfield and John Autry

All seven district seats on the Charlotte City Council are on the ballot. Incumbents Al Austin, John Autry and LaWana Mayfield will face challengers in the Sept. 15 primary. Other district representatives face no primary opponent, or are running unopposed.

Here are the Observer editorial board’s endorsements in the contested primary races:

District 2

We recommend incumbent Al Austin, a major gifts officer for Johnson C. Smith University. He is completing his first term representing parts of uptown as well as west and northwest Charlotte.

Austin has supported the streetcar project, body cameras for police officers and fought for redevelopment along the Beatties Ford Road corridor. His has been a quiet voice on the council, but his district includes westside areas that have traditionally felt overlooked. We hope a second term will find him more vocal. He is the clearly superior choice to newcomer Steven Jones.

District 3

Incumbent LaWana Mayfield, a community organizer, has proven to be a forceful and energetic advocate for her district, which includes west and southwest Charlotte. She deserves a third term.

The council’s first openly gay member, Mayfield fought for an expanded non-discrimination ordinance that would have increased protection for LGBT citizens, including allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with. She is active in her district and vocal in defending its interests.

Newcomer Rosa Hodge-Mustafa lacks her breadth of experience, and former council member Warren Turner, whose final term was marred by allegations of sexual harrassment, lacks a clean track record for ethical conduct.

District 5

The east side’s redevelopment struggles kept incumbent John Autry busy in his second term. Autry, chief technology officer for a risk management firm, was a strong advocate for a private developer’s unsuccessful plan to build a movie studio at the old Eastland Mall complex. He wants to spend his next term pushing for expansion of the streetcar, as well as construction of a park and a school at the Eastland site.

His opponent, Scott Derek Jenkins, a city employee, is well-known in the community and ran a strong race for council during the last election, but Autry remains the best choice to push the district’s interests forward.