The campaign to be Charlotte’s next mayor is already heating up. Three Democrats — Jennifer Roberts, Vi Lyles and Joel Ford — and one Republican, Kenny Smith, are already in the race.
There’s no way I’d ever run for office, but I decided to take a crack at what a platform could look like for an Independent. What you see below is written as what you might hear in a campaign speech or read in an op-ed.
What’s the mayor of Charlotte’s job, really?
It’s an amorphous position. The mayor doesn’t vote on policy, or run departments, or hire and fire.
I’m running for mayor to bring a real answer to that question.
The politicians in our city have spent way too much time making excuses. That’s a school board issue, not the city’s. The state legislature won’t let us do that. We don’t have the money in the budget.
I view the job of mayor as finding ways to get things done no matter the obstacles. The job of mayor is to set big goals and get results. Here are a few of them we can accomplish.
We as a city have forgotten about jobs. A few short years ago, creating new employment was a top priority for the mayor and city council. It doesn’t seem so anymore.
Yes, Charlotte’s unemployment rate has fallen near 4 percent. That’s something to celebrate. But the recovery has not been across the board. More than 8 percent of African-Americans in our city are seeking work. That’s close to the overall unemployment in the middle of the recession — but without the same urgency to solve.
We will no longer be fine with ceding growing businesses like Movement Mortgage, LPL Financial and Red Ventures to the friendlier environment of South Carolina. I will be the city’s booster-in-chief, and I’ll advocate for companies to move to east and west Charlotte with the same vigor that I would Ballantyne. We’re going to break down barriers to investment and business growth and treat companies like customers.
But that doesn’t mean we’re going to give away everything to the rich and powerful. When I’m mayor, we’re going to stop subsidizing billionaires and start investing in our struggling communities. We gave nearly $90 million to Jerry Richardson, more than $30 million to Michael Jordan and — thankfully — we just barely avoided giving $44 million to Bruton Smith.
We have no problem finding tens of millions for professional sports team owners but can’t seem to find the will to help people who actually need it. When I’m mayor, we’re going to find new, innovative ways to build wealth in our poorest neighborhoods.
The key to strengthening these communities is not setting up transit lines and hoping rich white people move in. How about we invest in minority entrepreneurs instead of giving money way to rich white guys? Only 5 percent of Charlotte’s businesses are owned by African-Americans. We can do better.
I’m running as an independent, and that’s for a reason. I am more concerned with creating a great place to live than in picking political fights with the state legislature in Raleigh or creating a resume for national office. I’m more interested in ensuring our city respects and loves all its residents rather than use vulnerable populations as political pawns.
I’m going to focus on the nitty gritty of living local, like whether recycling should be picked up more often or how leaves get removed in the fall, instead of worrying about Capitol Hill.
I ask for your vote.