Editor's note: Districts 4, 5, 6 and 7 are in part two of this series.
A more reliable public transportation system. Local retention of Charlotte Douglas International Airport. A controversial voter-ID bill. On Tuesday, City Council district candidates discussed local and statewide topics at a forum hosted by the Black Political Caucus of Charlotte. The audience provided candidates with the discussion topics and questions, which ranged from the practical (to weed out any duds), such as "name the neighborhoods and streets in your district," to the controversial, such as whether candidates agreed with the voter-ID bill Gov. McCrory recently signed into law. (All candidates passed the geography test and disagreed with the bill.) The caucus will host a similar discussion with at-large and mayoral candidates on Thursday at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., respectively, at the Ramses Temple, 4919 Beatties Ford Road.
Here are some personal facts and campaign platforms the candidates revealed at Tuesday's meeting.
Patsy Kinsey, Democrat
The District 1 representative (since 2003) left the position in July after City Council appointed her mayor, the post Anthony Foxx vacated after being appointed U.S. Secretary of Transportation. Kinsey said she would continue many of the initiatives she took up as a councilwoman, including preserving the historic homes in her district, upping police to reduce crime and growing jobs. A supporter of the light rail and street car initiatives, Kinsey also stressed the need for a "comprehensive transportation system."
Regarding the voter-ID bill, Kinsey said she was "disappointed McCrory didn't veto it."
Art Cardenas, Democrat
Cardenas has lived in Charlotte since he immigrated to the United States 15 years ago from Latin America. He said he would make City Council "more responsible," citing the Panthers debacle in which the city promised team owner Jerry Richardson money for a new stadium without receiving much in return. Cardenas also emphasized the need for more east-to-west public transportation and surveillance cameras in at-risk neighborhoods.
As an immigrant, Cardenas said he was "used to getting targeted for my ID. I disagree [that] all citizens here should go through what I go through."
District 2 (Not present: Justin Stewart)
John White, Democrat
White, a retiree, said he would turn the council seat, a part-time position, into a full-time job. A longtime activist, White touted his work in transforming his local voting precinct, 210, into the area with the "highest voter turnout in Mecklenburg County." He vowed to improve access to healthcare and voting in his district.
"Economic development doesn't mean anything if you don't vote."
Al Austin, Democrat
The Charlotte native and UNC-Chapel Hill graduate emphasized the need for economic development and better infrastructure, such as sidewalks. Charlotte should continue to offer corporations incentives to move here, he said, though it should hold said corporations accountable for hiring locally.
"I call it 'the hijacking of CLT,'" Austin said, in regard to the General Assembly's attempted takeover of Charlotte's airport.
Rocky Bailey, Democrat
Bailey is a former Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer and state Department of Commerce employee. He said he'd work with banks to grow jobs and echoed much of the disappointment with the voter-ID bill.
About the voter-ID bill, Bailey said McCrory was "looking out for the best interests: of himself. Vote Pat out."
Brenda Stevenson, Democrat
Stevenson, a pastor, has been politically active for several decades in Charlotte. She served as a delegate at the DNC and is the president of the Disabled Democrats and Veterans. She has previously worked on several beautification efforts in her district.
"My wheelchair does not define me. I am the best candidate here."
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