As election year revs up, North Carolina finds itself at a crossroads. On the one hand, the state is still recovering from a recession that hurt businesses and workers. On the other, May offers the promise for change. We have the opportunity to elect officials who are knowledgeable of our problems and capable of providing solutions. If you're voting in the May 8th primary, there are a few things you should know.
This state cannot afford to have Pat McCrory as governor during these difficult times, but we need more than just a strong Democratic candidate to take him on in the fall — we need a leader. We need someone who will guide us to recovery and prosperity. We need a courageous statesman who will inspire this state in a way that no politician has since the days of Jim Hunt.
We have traveled the state and listened to debates during this short primary. After earnest consideration, we endorse Bob Etheridge for governor.
Though not a dyed-in-the-wool progressive activist, Etheridge is thoughtful, sincere and fearless. He insists his humble upbringing on tenant farms will remind him to keep the poor in mind once he's elected.
In Congress, he supported the economic-recovery package and President Obama's healthcare reform, and it cost him his job. But he proved he was a public servant willing to put the greater good before his career, and we'd like to think he'd do it again in Raleigh.
We support the elder statesman Etheridge, but we also understand the need for new politics in North Carolina. That's why we support Sen. Eric Mansfield for lieutenant governor. Mansfield is an Army veteran and minister who first ran for public office two years ago after being motivated by the Obama campaign.
It's time that the president's generation have visual reassurance of their impact on this state and time that we had another African American elected statewide. Mansfield's fiery oratory and broad experience will fuel an effective voice for our state.
— Mike Cooper Jr.
Ten GOP candidates are vying to replace Rep. Sue Myrick, who is finally retiring from her District 9 congressional seat. A pissing contest between two real charmers — former state Sen. Robert Pittenger and county commissioner Jim Pendergraph — has grabbed most of the publicity, but other candidates deserve a look, too. That includes Mike Steinberg, a Tea Partier who wants to repeal the U.S. Constitution's 17th amendment so state legislatures can go back to choosing U.S. senators, instead of leaving it up to voters. There's an issue near the top of everyone's list, huh? If we were to vote in the GOP primary, it would be tempting to go with former Charlotte city councilman Ed Peacock, a strong economic conservative who nonetheless opposes passage of the state anti-marriage amendment. On the other hand, Steinberg is probably a better indicator of where the GOP's allegiances lie these days, so he gets our tepid endorsement.
Only one Democrat is running for Congress from the 9th District. Former Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jennifer Roberts' views on issues such as education, the environment and creating jobs are a good match for CL's concerns. Since she has no opponent in the primary, there is no need to endorse her at this time.
— John Grooms
MECKLENBURG COUNTY COMMISSIONER AT-ARGE ENDORSEMENTS
Harry Taylor has never been afraid to speak his mind, even to the president. In 2006, he famously told George W. Bush that he was "frightened" by leadership in Washington. His actions often show what his words tell. In 2008, the commercial-real-estate broker ran for House of Representatives in District 9 against Myrick because no other Democrats stepped up to run. He has the local experience and passion for education reform, environmental protections and the civil-justice system. Plus, Taylor's a regular guy who, when you meet him, will admit to feeling tired that day. If all else fails, we're pretty sure the former head of the Charlotte Folk Society could win a banjo contest against any of the other commissioners who dared to challenge him.
— Joanne Spataro
When you're a litigation attorney handling messy divorces and even messier criminals, you can't let a little thing like the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners get to you. Gregory Hunt, a native New Yorker, was a staff attorney for the New York City Controller's Office, so he's familiar with finances and complicated business systems. He was also an adjunct professor in business organization and public administration at The College New Rochelle and Globe Institute of Technology. What sets him apart from the old Charlotte guard is his relative newness to the city. He moved here in 2007 and has run his own firm, Hunt Law PLLC, in the historic Dilworth neighborhood. As a commissioner, Hunt plans to balance budgets without slashing programs to save money. Let's hope the litigator in him brings order to the sometimes rowdy court at the Government Center.
Here's a serious candidate. Pat Cotham is a longtime leader in the Democratic Party, serving as both president of the Democratic Women in Mecklenburg County and a member of the Democratic National Committee. She has spent much of her career helping people find jobs, from high rollers to former inmates. She's in favor of incentives for local and minority-owned businesses, is opposed to breaking CMS up into multiple districts, and, in a move that drew criticism from conservatives, heralded the Trayvon Martin rally in Charlotte — a move in her favor, as we see it. Cotham has the support of big-name Democrats, as well as area progressives, and we think that she would be an excellent county commissioner.
Let's be real. Creative Loafing, a publication with a longtime progressive bent, isn't going to enthusiastically support a Republican commission candidate. But after studying and listening to them, we'll say that if you're looking for a solid, level-headed conservative, consider Wayne Powers. A former jazz musician, actor and founder of Tea Rex teahouse, Powers has been heavily involved in Charlotte civic life, is on the right without being a fire-breathing ideologue, has promoted conservative views on WBT radio, and is backed by conservative stalwarts county commissioner Karen Bentley and former city councilman Don Reid.
The voter registration deadline in North Carolina is 25 days before the election. However, if you miss this cut-off, you can still sign up in person or at one-stop voting sites in the county you live in during early voting periods. You must be able to show proof of name and county residency. Visit North Carolina's Board of Election website for details.
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