- Date/time: Aug 24 to Sep 15
- Web: http://www.danclodfelter.com/
I left the North Carolina Senate last year, to come home to Charlotte and serve as your Mayor. I wasn’t looking for a title or a position. I already had both of those things. I was looking to take on an important job that our City needed to fill. After stepping in, I discovered the work of Mayor was indeed as important a public service as any other I have rendered in my career in local and state government.
I would like to continue that work for another two years. The members of the City Council put their trust in me a year ago when they asked me to be your Mayor. I ask that you do the same on September 15.
Charlotte’s unique history since World War II has been grounded in a rock solid partnership among local government, business interests, community and neighborhood leaders, and key non-profit and philanthropic citizens. Such partnerships cannot be taken for granted; they must be tended to constantly. Each participant must respect the essential roles of others if our community as a whole is to succeed. As Mayor Kinsey aptly said in 2013, this is and has been “the Charlotte Way.” I stand proudly in that tradition.
Our City has risen swiftly from the ranks of other similar mid-sized southern cities over the past three decades. It is now poised to become one of our national, and even global, great cities of this century. To do that, we must attend to some fundamentals and we must get them right. Those are the things I want to continue to tackle as your Mayor.
Economy and Jobs:
Charlotte has done a great job in attracting headquarters operations and large-scale corporate relocations. We must continue that success story. However, we must focus more of our attention on supporting the growth and expansion of existing businesses, new startups, and high-growth innovators. These are the companies moving forward that will generate most of the job growth needed by local citizens. Businesses like these are more likely to hire locally rather than just relocating employees from other regions. Smaller, more nimble, employers also offer the kinds of flexible lifestyles that are attractive to the talented young people who are essential to Charlotte’s economic future.
We must strive to better connect our own citizens to the jobs our local economy generates. Our “crown jewel” in this effort has been, and will continue to be, our top-flight community college, CPCC. We must enhance its role with stepped up efforts to develop and encourage public and private sector apprenticeship programs and career readiness education. We must provide opportunities, for our middle and high school students, by providing more internships and summer employment.
We need to aspire to make our Mayor’s Youth Employment Program the largest effort of its kind in the nation. For more information about our career readiness programs and the Youth Employment Program, please visit: http://charmeck.org/city/charlotte/mayor/myep
We are currently watching the slow but steady withdrawal of the basic state support and state resources that had sustained our public schools for over a hundred years. This is an alarming development, and fighting that trend must be a top priority. A strong public education system is essential to the future economic success and welfare of our children; it is fundamental to our existence as a community of shared political and social principles.
If we allow our system of public education, so carefully built up in North Carolina over more than a century, to be dismantled and broken into a hodgepodge of distinct and separate education systems and programs, there is more at risk than just the proper education of our children. We are also at risk of becoming a divided and splintered community.
City government has no direct role in governance and funding of public education in our community. But the City can and must be an active and engaged supporter, partner, cheerleader, and advocate for our schools in every way it can be. That is why as Mayor I have been a strong advocate for the City’s involvement and participation in the Read Charlotte initiative, discussions on how our community can bridge the digital divide, and the many different efforts concerning youth employment, career readiness training, and youth mentoring that are coming together under the umbrella of the My Brothers’ Keeper initiative. For more information about Read Charlotte and about My Brothers’ Keeper, check out these websites:
Community Diversity and Inclusiveness:
The great genius of America has been our ability, generation after generation, to welcome and incorporate newcomers from different traditions and different backgrounds, to create from the mixing of cultures and people a vibrant, creative, and strong unity.
Charlotte today is in an exciting period of increasing diversity that, I believe, will bring a new richness, a new interest, and a new creativity to our community, all of which is essential if we are to play a role on the world stage of the 21st century.
I have been and will continue to be a strong supporter of the work and the recommendations of the Council-appointed Immigrant Integration Task Force and want to see them implemented. If Charlotte wants to be a player in the world economy, it must truly be open to the entire world as a welcoming and supportive place.
I have been a longstanding supporter of legislation at both the state and local level seeking to remove discriminatory barriers that block full participation in our community by our LGBT citizens, dating back to the first vote I cast in 1992 in favor of a City Council anti-discrimination ordinance.
Finally, our community’s social and economic health is directly determined by how well all citizens and all areas of the city are able to participate in and benefit from the fruits of our economic growth and success.
There is no more important challenge today for Charlotte than to tackle the contradiction that exists between our strong overall prosperity overall and the well-documented difficulty many citizens experience in being able to move up the ladder of opportunity.
I have helped to lead in the formation of the newly created joint Economy Opportunity Task Force, created by the City, the County, and private foundations, whose charge is to identify specific, tangible steps local actors can take to open up doors of economic opportunity for those of our citizens who find them closed. For more information about the Task Force, visit:
Charlotte is blessed with neighborhoods of richly diverse character, and this richness and diversity have increased dramatically in the last twenty-five years. Today, neighborhood choices spanning from NoDa and SouthEnd to Washington Heights and Windsor Park to Ballantyne and Highland Creek are available for every kind of desired lifestyle and environment. Our challenge, as the City grows larger and more dense, is twofold; to help revitalizing neighborhoods withstand the pressure of rising property taxes that could drive out long-time residents and businesses, and to assist established neighborhoods maintain their stability and attractiveness for residents.
I strongly support the City’s Community Improvement Program as a tool for accomplishing these two tasks. The CIP places heavy emphasis on “neighborhood scale” capital spending projects to correct infrastructure deficiencies, provide amenities to support neighborhood desirability, and enrich neighborhood identity. But the City is in need of new tools to deal with the problem of displacement of residents and businesses in “hot” neighborhoods that are rapidly re-developing.
City support for neighborhoods must return to our historically proven tools for providing assistance to individual homeowners and businesses seeking to preserve, improve, and upgrade their own properties so they can be more resistant to pressure to ‘sell-out’ for large-scale developments. Through initiatives such as the Neighborhood Matching Grants Program, which I originated as a City Council member, Charlotte can assist neighborhoods in taking control of their own priorities for how their neighborhoods can be improved.
Environment and Sustainability:
The value we place on sustaining and improving the health of our region’s environment is a measure of the value we place on the health of our people, the competitiveness and sustainability of our future economy, and the desirability of our community as a place to live and raise our families. This has always ranked as one of my highest priorities because it is fundamental to our ability to achieve all other economic and social goals.
Communities who get it right on three critical variables – waste reduction, wise use of water resources, and transportation efficiency – will be the winners in a world where resource constraints are becoming more and more urgent. As a City we must step up efforts to reduce generation of solid waste and increase reliance on recycling. We must build a regionally integrated and resilient water supply system with maximum emphasis on efficiency and conservation. We must support aggressive expansion of our mass transit systems and find new ways to finance their construction.
It is particularly critical that we get on with the work of re-thinking how we will fund the build-out of our 2030 transit plan. The funding systems used for the Blue Line, the Blue Line Extension, and the first phases of the Gold Line will not carry us further. Future federal support will increasingly be based on a competitive grants process. Future state support is highly doubtful, and our existing local resources are almost fully committed.
I believe we must open a new dialogue with our neighboring cities and counties about creating a regional funding system, based on shared or pooled resources, to support the future transportation needs, not only of our transit system, but also of our regional roadway system.
Our Relations with State Government:
Last, but most certainly not least, we have to recognize that our currently difficult relationship with our state government, evidenced by struggles over local sales tax revenues and over the governance of our airport, is a symptom of much larger stresses affecting all of North Carolina and its local communities.
We must take a step back from the seemingly endless tussles and wrangles with the General Assembly, where each fight is taken in isolation. We must instead open a dialogue with state leaders about striking a new “grand bargain” to replace the existing allocation of responsibilities and resources between the state and its local governments, most all of which date back to the 1930’s.
The way forward will require that the State recognize and accept the need for greater local flexibility and greater local control over resources than has existed in the past. At the same time it will require local governments, especially those in the State’s major urban centers, to shoulder greater responsibility for some functions that historically have been primarily State financed and State controlled. This will be a difficult conversation, but one we must start now.
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