“Jennifer has a great message that people need to hear,” Jonker said.
Roberts, currently the only Democrat in the race, is among a slate of Republican candidates, including Commissioner Jim Pendergraph and City Councilman Andy Dulin. The deadline to file is Feb. 29, so others may still enter the race. Historically, Republicans have been elected to the 9th District since 1952. Myrick has assumed the role since 1995. With Myrick's departure, Roberts said she will run on a platform of fresh ideas, bipartisanship, and a plan for the future. In the past, Roberts' passions have included civil rights, new business opportunities, and locally grown foods.
Roberts, a longtime advocate for women and the LGBT community, has spoken out against the anti-gay marriage amendment to the N.C. Constitution that's up for vote in May and has supported educating voters about its negative ramifications on not just the LGBT community but also those in civil unions seeking workplace health benefits. Roberts also has been a proponent of public transportation, saying that creating transit projects is cheaper and more effective than building roads.
Roberts recently reflected on why she chose not to seek another term on the County Commission. In light of her announcement Monday to run for the U.S. House, it's hard not to see her comments also relating to outgoing Rep. Myrick. "When you stay in the office too long, you get stale," Roberts said. "You get too close to some of the power, further away from constituents; you lose the energy that comes with a new position, with having just gotten the mandate from the people and being there to represent them."
As for the upcoming Democratic National Convention, Roberts said she believes it will be a showcase opportunity for Charlotte. “We want to put our best foot forward," she said. "People are so generous in this community."
Joanne Spataro is a Charlotte-based freelance writer. You can follow her @LookItsJoanne or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.