I’m running for office because I want a Charlotte that grows in smart ways that maintain the character of our neighborhoods, where housing is affordable, using mass transit is easy, and where police and neighbors work together to solve problems.
I’ve lived in Charlotte for over a decade. My wife Lauren and I live with our rescue dog, Jake, in Plaza Midwood. I’ve been an active member of our community, and if I haven’t already met you, I’d like to do so soon. Please read further to find out a bit more about me, what I believe in and what I hope to achieve as your City Councilmember. I hope you’ll work with me to make District 1 an even better place to live, work and play.
Working people should be able to live near where they work and the cost of living in our city should not force families to live in the outer reaches of the community. Affordable, workforce housing should not be concentrated in a small handful of corners in the city’s East and West corridors, but should be equitably distributed around the city. Thoughtful distribution of workforce housing across our city is the long-term solution to re-integrating our public school system without the need for busing. While schools are the purview of our county elected officials, strategic planning between elected bodies can create solutions that help everyone.
All citizens of Charlotte have the right to a roof over their head, and with cooperation between the city, county, and the citizens of our community, we can achieve that goal. Expanding ‘housing first’ strategies like Moore Place is our best solution to solving the problem of chronic homelessness in our city and getting our city’s most vulnerable citizens back on their feet.
Our community’s future must include an array of transportation options. It has been proven over and again that a city cannot pave its way out of congestion. Toll lanes, be they on Interstate 77, Independence Blvd, or elsewhere, do not offer any relief to the majority of our community’s citizens and will, by design, do nothing to reduce traffic congestion. To remain competitive with other metropolitan areas, we must aggressively seek to improve pedestrian, bike, bus and rail options so folks have alternatives to driving. These transportation routes will spur additional development and private investment in the corridors around them. Our existing mass transit network must be made more efficient so hard-working folks in our city don’t have to spend hours a day getting to and from work. An effective and diversified transportation plan will enable more of our neighbors to find and maintain employment and will slow the increase of congestion on our roads.
In District 1, these issues are as relevant as anywhere, with future plans for streetcar service from Uptown to the Eastland Mall area, as well as light rail service running east from Uptown along the Independence Blvd/Monroe Rd corridor. There are numerous opportunities in District 1 to connect and expand existing greenway segments to create new ways for people to move from place to place as pedestrians or cyclists and to encourage recreation in our community. Improvement and addition of bike lanes and sidewalks along our busier streets in the district would have similar beneficial effects. We must give our citizens transportation options other than single passenger vehicles.
It pains us all to hear the common refrain that Charlotte doesn’t preserve its history; we must do a better job protecting the places that help tell our city’s story. Preservation of historic landmarks and neighborhoods is an effective tool for maintaining the character of our community and stimulates private investment around it. Preservation and growth are not mutually exclusive, but leaders must find a healthy balance between the two, or we will soon be left with only metal plaques to tell our city’s story.
Serving for the last two years on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission has given me a deeper understanding of the rich, cultural past Charlotte possesses and the importance of preserving that history. Through my position on the HLC, I have advocated for the preservation of several landmarks in District 1 including the VanLandingham Estate, the Barnhardt-Cramer Estate, Midwood Elementary School, the Morgan School in the Cherry neighborhood, and others. It is our local elected officials’ obligation to protect not only our community’s people, but also its places.
Crime is not a problem with an easy solution. Our first responders must be better paid, better trained, and better appreciated; they should also go through additional training to understand and counteract implicit bias. Far more often than not, transparency is the best policy to build trust between our law enforcement officers and the communities they serve, and I am in favor of the timely release of body cam footage in any officer-involved shooting. I have worked in the Plaza Midwood neighborhood as one of the leaders of the neighborhood watch program, whose primary mission is to build a trusting relationship and partnership with the officers in the Eastway Division. I’ve seen firsthand the challenges our first responders and law enforcement officers face on a daily basis. I am a graduate of the CMPD Citizens Academy as well as the FBI Citizens Academy; I also serve as a volunteer firefighter at Long Creek Volunteer Fire Department. Our community can heal from the tragic events of our recent history if we have leaders that hear, understand, and sympathize with the valid concerns of those on all sides of this issue.
Our government should be representative of those it governs. Much of the change taking place in our city, particularly in District 1, is being fueled by the rapid increase in our millennial population; in fact, Charlotte had the largest percentage increase in residents from this generation of any city in our nation from 2005-2015. The fact that none of Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s three main elected bodies has an elected person from this generation indicates not all perspectives are being represented in our local government. While I would bring many perspectives to the table from my life experience, I think the perspective of someone from our city’s quickly-growing younger generation is one that would be unique.