Here are three people we'd love to see on the ballot for mayor one day. Who do you think would be a good candidate? Let us know. We'll publish the results at a later date.
A progressive who strays from dogmatic rhetoric, a strong female leader who spent eight years as Mecklenburg County Commission chairwoman championing for education and the poor, and a former foreign service officer with the State Department and Morehead Scholar at UNC Chapel Hill — these are just a few of Jennifer Roberts' accolades. But perhaps her best attribute? She doesn't take anything — not even pillars of her party's agenda — at face value. During her congressional campaign last year, in which she nearly beat shoe-in Republican Robert Pittenger, Roberts said she wouldn't do as her opponent and aid in repealing the Affordable Care Act. But she wouldn't have accepted it entirely either. She told reporters in Charlotte she would have amended Obamacare with a holistic approach toward improving medical care, further cutting health-care costs, increasing competition between insurance companies and reducing unnecessary procedures.
Roberts went relatively quiet after her defeat until this year, when she opened a political action committee, hinting at a future race. Though her eyes probably aren't on local elections anymore, we hope she reconsiders. Charlotte could use a critical thinker like Roberts.
Vi Alexander Lyles
Vi Lyles is probably the most accomplished, least heard-of candidate in this year's City Council election. The assistant city manager from 1996 to 2004 began her career 30 years ago as an analyst in the city's budget department, eventually becoming the budget director. She helped create the city's first capital budget — and eventually 22 balanced budgets — and designed Mayor Anthony Foxx's legacy program for the 2012 Democratic National Convention. She currently serves as project manager for a Foundation For The Carolinas initiative conducting research to eventually create a local rental subsidy endowment. "The endowment would serve families, including veterans, with a structured housing program that places high value on personal accountability and self-sufficiency," according to Lyles' campaign website. After she most likely wins an at-large seat on City Council in November, we're going to keep our eyes on Vi. With some seasoning, she could turn into a serious mayoral contender.
Too often, politicians govern from the top down, usually because that's their only view. But that wouldn't be true if Dale Mullennix were mayor of Charlotte. Mullennix heads the Urban Ministry Center, an interfaith organization that helps connect Charlotte's neediest with basic services, such as showers and laundry, substance abuse treatment programs, temporary shelter and permanent supportive housing. Mullennix has also served as a pastor at the progressive Myers Park Baptist Church, helped start the overnight shelter Room at the Inn, and was part of a group of pastors that brought Habitat for Humanity to Charlotte in the '80s. Not only do his priorities rival Mother Teresa's, but he's also fearless as hell: Around the time the economy tanked, Mullennix began an ambitious campaign to raise $10 million to build Moore Place, a permanent supportive housing unit for the homeless.
It's hard to imagine that he would leave his post, which has nabbed him not only a "Local Hero" award in our Best of Charlotte issue but a community leader award from the Mecklenburg Ministries, for the dirty world of politics. Perhaps with enough encouragement, Mullennix will have a change of heart.CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, the original version of this story misidentified Jennifer Roberts as a Morehead-Cain Scholar. Roberts was a Morehead Scholar.
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