Edwin, what are your top priorities?

I will renew our focus on making Charlotte the most family friendly and business friendly city in America.  These priorities are critical in accomplishing this.

1. Reduce crime:  Charlotte ranks 6th in the U.S. in human trafficking. 80% of those crimes involve sexual exploitation. As of Labor Day, there had already been more murders in Charlotte this year than in all of 2014. I have proposed a realistic and proactive plan to reduce crime in Charlotte.  The Mayor must be proactive, not reactive, on crime.

2. Lower the tax burden on families and businesses. We’ve seen two consecutive tax hikes, and as our city leaders move forward with a $500 million streetcar with no funding sources, we are sure to see a third very soon. We must return to responsible budgeting and spend more efficiently instead of relying on tax increases.

3. Create a 21st Century transit plan that addresses the needs and priorities of Charlotte residents. We must pursue a fiscally responsible transit plan that relieves congestion.

4. Improve our schools. The Mayor doesn’t have a direct role in education, but strong neighborhoods are anchored by strong schools. Strong neighborhoods build a strong city. The next Mayor must work with the school board, the state and local chambers, and families, to find more ways to improve our schools and ensure they get the attention they deserve.

My top priorities will be  creating economic development opportunities for all of Charlotte;  helping our educational community move from having a “good” reputation to having a “great” one;  and to build a regional, multi-modal transportation plan that’s fiscally responsible and focuses on both traffic congestion relief and creating new economic development & housing opportunities in the process.

Where do you stand on the recent City Council tax hikes?

I opposed them.  Our City Council has now passed 2 consecutive tax hikes. With a recovering economy and a troubling lack of economic mobility, how will tax increases possibly help? Charlotte deserves a Mayor who will work with his Council to pass a capital plan that focuses on more effective spending and public-private partnerships, rather than relying on more and more tax increases. Here’s something to think about: If City Council had to raise taxes to pay for a $22 million budget shortfall, how bad will it get if Council proceeds with a streetcar that could reach $500 million in cost, with no current revenue source?

What’s  your plan to create jobs?

Charlotte ranked last in economic mobility in a study of 50 U.S. cities, even behind Detroit. My plan is to place a renewed focus on making Charlotte the most business and family friendly city in the United States.  Charlotte is a “border city” that faces increasing competition for companies to locate around our city for lower taxes.   After two consecutive tax increases, we’re heading in the wrong direction.  Charlotte must be known for being a high value and  affordable city, not an “expensive” one.  We must understand that is not in shared interest to continue on this trajectory tax/fee increases because it will take decades to undue.

So what can a Mayor really do to create jobs?

The Mayor is the lead “salesman” for our city & region.   In my case, I’m quite comfortable in this role because I’ve had a career of 23 years in professional sales.

The Mayor of our city also must understand that in Charlotte nothing happens by one person; it is done as a team!   The Mayor is in regular contact with our partners at the Charlotte & N.C. Chambers, the Charlotte Regional Partnership, and the newly formed North Carolina Economic Development Board.  Together, a Mayor and this team must continue to build on our strengths but also diversify of job market  in order to build a next generation economy.

Our next mayor must work to lower the tax burden on businesses and help create an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Charlotte that is second to none.

What do you mean, “build a next generation economy”?

Charlotte’s history has been rich with Mayor’s who worked in conjunction with our business community to write stories of success in the chapters of her economic history.  Effective Mayor’s can and must look to the future and plan for our cities next generation workforce.

Good examples are Mayor Belk & Harris’s efforts to bring us our international airport.   Mayor McCrory ‘s efforts to introduce an alternative to buses with the light rail.  Mayor Vinroot’s initiatives to establish a strong international business community in the region.

Here are two exciting opportunities I’d like to seize for the next generation of Charlotteans:

Airport + Intermodal Facility + Global Hub-Our airport is important economic asset in Charlotte.  The efforts by our business and educational community to brand Charlotte USA as “a global hub for trade & commerce” have begun.  I want to build on these initiatives and marry them with our strong international community.

CLT + Google Fiber City + Applied Innovation Corridor-  As Mayor, I want to capitalize on becoming a Google Fiber city and accelerate our initiatives to build an Applied Innovation Corridor off our Blue Line Extension from uptown to UNCC.   Charlotte can and must create a culture of success for risk takers and innovators that will view our eco-system for entrepreneurs second to none.   Currently, we’re letting these opportunities slip to cities like New York, Boston,  Palo Alto, Austin and Nashville.  That can and must stop.

What about the streetcar?

I’m pro mass transit.  However, I did not agree with the City Council’s decision to use $63,000,000 of unspent property tax reserves for a controversial streetcar project and I do not support the completion of the project, which could total $500 million ($50 million per mile). This streetcar is the lowest regional transit priority.  I voted every chance I got against funding the streetcar while on City Council. 

Remember, the property tax expenditure is contingent upon the US Department of Transportation committing another $63,000,000 of your tax dollars. There is currently no revenue source to pay for the streetcar.

Rather than squander property tax reserves and continue with a century-old streetcar on the backs of taxpayers, the next Mayor of Charlotte must embrace a fiscally sound multi-modal transit plan that honors our established regional priorities and focuses on traffic congestion relief.

If you’re opposed to the streetcar/trolley, how would you revitilize the challenged corridors of East & West Charlotte?

I really wish I had a a silver bullet answer here, but I do not.  What I do have is a sincere interest to see positive and lasting changes to these corridors that can and should given due attention.

An important point some are just now beginning to realize: the light rail is not the same as a streetcar/trolley. Yes, both are fixed rail, but both attract different private development activity.

So what’s my “plan B”? The answer starts with WE. Mayor’s serve as an ambassador to our city and cannot create changes by themselves .  It’s a WE effort to create change. It must be a collaborative initiative with neighborhood leaders, the faith community, the business community, the #CLTCC #CMBOCC &#CMSSB district reps involved to take a block by block plan to achieve area visions.

There are continued needs for basic “blocking & tackling” in these corridors in order to create stability and to send the market signals needed to attract retail, small businesses, and restaurants.   There are  a few of the “tools in the toolbox” that we can’t forget and must continue to use to see lasting change.

-Restore Corridor Revitalization Funds-   Monies currently directed towards our streetcar must be redirected from that project back to the areas these were intended to help.   An effective Mayor can and must work with his fellow elected leaders to achieve the shared goals of the corridor.

– Facade Improvement Grants-  These grants must be taken advantage of to remove blight & structures that have been neglected.

-Code Enforcement / CMPD-  Together they must continue create a safe  & clean environment.

-Trees Charlotte & Keep Charlotte Beautiful-  These two groups partner to create another majestic Charlotte canopy of the future.   Trees creates a sense of place and community like nothing else.

-Strong Neighborhood Schools.  Finally, one known “change agent” is the establishment of a strong neighborhood school. This does not happen overnight I know, but it could be achieve with all political bodies working in coordination to create lasting change in these areas.

Does this mean we abandon T.O.D. (transit oriented development) in East & West CLT?

No. I simply believe we need to return to the drawing board on evaluating transit/mobility trends. We can and must innovate on how best to achieve the end result of moving people around our city efficiently and cost effectively and also improve the quality of life in those areas where

We can’t ignore that transit / mobility trends are rapidly changing as commuters are being presented faster, less expensive alternatives. Think Uber and other ride sharing technologies.

Finally, we must look to a future in transportation that seems unimaginable, but is most definitely coming: driverless cars and bus rapid transit systems. (“smart city” )

When you contrast all these changes with a fixed rail streetcar from the 19th century, it should cause pause for concern. Leaders must work together to find a better path forward!

So what are your thoughts on our transportation plan?

Mobility is essential for a fast growing city like Charlotte.  With mobility comes the ability to get citizens to & from our economic centers with greater ease.  Private sector job creation is fueled by a multi-modal approach to transit.  Our transit approach must continue to embrace the REGIONAL partnership we’ve formed with the Metropolitan Transit Commission (MTC) and we must honor the promise we’ve given to our partners in the MTC.  Our priorities must remain the expansion of our bus system, the completion of the light rail to UNCC, and the expansion of rail to Huntersville, Cornelius, & Davidson.  Our next Mayor must be a strong partner in the conversation and committed to this regional approach which is built of the trust placed in us by the tax payers who have, by voter referendum,  directed us to spend their money on projects they’ve identified are high priority.

Edwin, the Mayor has no formal role in education.  Why’s that important to you?

Great cities have great schools.  I believe schools belong to everyone!   If you want a strong economy, you must have great schools. If you want strong neighborhoods, you have to have great schools.  Our next Mayor must form a stronger partnership with our educational community (CMS, universities & community college)    The link between our economic success(private sector job creation) and our educational success is a partnership. Our next Mayor needs to be a partner to assist CMS and our higher educational community. Our next Mayor could be a more dynamic partner & leader to better serve our customers (parents & businesses) & to enhance the overall profile of the Charlotte region.

What are your thoughts on the need for affordable housing choices in Charlotte?

There’s a growing need for affordable housing for our workforce which includes pre-school teachers, home health care aides, hospitality workers,  and even our public safety employees.   The City of Charlotte is in this business because the voters  have approved housing bonds we must administer.

The previous generation of affordable housing “projects” were built around concentrating clusters of poverty in certain areas.  Properties were built with substandard materials and little architectural quality.  Many in our community still live in properties with this stigma today.  This has a proven track record of failure for our community on many levels.   Unfortunately, this paradigm of affordable housing remains and fuels the NIMBY (not in my back yard) reaction from all areas, but especially in South Charlotte.

The new generation of affordable housing stock is delivered based on a successful model of “mixed income” housing where owners and renters are integrated to the point where one could not tell the difference between individuals who receive subsidies to those who pay full market rates.  The properties are well built, have strict rules and regulations for appearances, and as a result have less sociological & societal stigmas.  This is the type of affordable housing I want available to all four corners of our city.

The City of Charlotte’s  has a “locational” policy  ( revised /adopted last on 3/28/2011)   where affordable housing supporting low income earners  ( area median income of 30% or $19,250 or 60% or $40,320 ) can be built.

This policy espouses four objectives I concur with:  (1) avoid undue concentration of subsidized multi-family housing development by geography dispersion (2) support our cities revitalization efforts in challenged areas (3) support school and transit development and (4) promote diversity & vitality of neighborhoods.

However,    I voted AGAINST this locational policy (3/28/2011) while on City Council.  I felt it sent mixed signals and was causing adverse market consequences that counter the above policy objectives it hoped to achieve.

I was recently quoted in The Charlotte Observer as being in favor of “low income housing in South Charlotte”.    That quote was accurately reported, despite it being a somewhat sarcastic response to a direct question from my primary opponent.   What I should have said was that I’m in favor low income housing in all areas of Charlotte (East, West, North, South).

As I’ve often said in many of my closing remarks,  I believe that in order achieve her potential, Charlotte cannot pit one part of our city versus another and expect to succeed.  Our current locational policy for affordable housing, while written with good intentions, is pitting one part versus the other.   Because details and restrictive requirements in our policy ( one being a requirement that properties can only be located in a “stable” NSA)  it is now creating adverse market conditions not conducive to achieving the four policy objectives mentioned above.

I believe this one of the most complicated, but important subjects we deal with on City Council.  As Mayor, I would work to achieve a balanced and thoughtful approach as rezoning petitions come before City Council.   Should I be asked to break a tie on City Council, I will look at each project individually.

Would I have supported the city’s proposed expansion of its non-discrimination ordinance (3/2/2015) to include a provision that would allow transgender residents to use the bathroom of their choice?

I was against Amendment One in the 2012 state referendum when I was a candidate for the 9th Congressional District in a Republican primary.  I am not anti-LGBT.  However, I would NOT have supported the 3/2/2015 item as it was presented to City Council in order to add several new protected classes to the non-discrimination ordinance for public accommodations.

Wasn’t  your Dad in politics? What’s he doing now?

Yes.  My father served in public office from 1974-1981 on the Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners.  He was the Chairman of the Board from 1978-1981.  He then served on City Council from 1981-83.  My dad is now retired from selling insurance.  He loves golf, sailing, swimming, and babysitting his five grandchildren.


Aren’t  you in office now?

No.  I served as a Republican At-Large Member on the City Council from 2007-2011.  I was also the Republican Nominee for Mayor in 2013.