Cover Story: Anthony Foxx takes office

By Jeff Atkinson - bio | email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte has a new mayor. Democrat Anthony Foxx took the Oath of Office Monday night. PrimeTime's Jeff Atkinson talked with Foxx about where he wants to take the city.

Foxx is the first Democrat in 22 years and he'll work with a larger Democratic majority than any other mayor has had since the council became partisan in 1977.

Foxx takes over at a time when Charlotte's unemployment is the highest in recent memory.

The incoming mayor says he'll be focusing in on jobs.

The incoming mayor told us one of his first acts will get the city to begin a program to steer loan money to small businesses who will create jobs.

Anthony Foxx told us at times he's going to look like the Tasmanian devil.. there are a lot of things he wants to get done.

With Charlotte unemployment at record-high rates incoming mayor Anthony Foxx knows he has his work cut out for him.

"I think there's an opportunity for us to identify those sectors where we think there's going to be long term job growth and to help entrepreneurs and small businesses grow in those areas," says Foxx.

Charlotte already has a program that steers money toward businesses who set up shop in economically-distressed corridors of the city.

Foxx wants to tweak that program with the money to go toward any critical business like banking.. who could use an extra hand getting loans to create jobs.

For example North Carolina has a program now that's taking 500 financial services workers, taking them through a training program which at the end they will have developed a business plan.

As it is now there's not an establish loan program to help them.  Foxx says the city can help.  He says, "The way the problem gets solved is when citizens who might have decided to seek employment decide to create a job by starting a business or something like that."

He says he hopes to have it put together within two months.

What else might we look for from the first 100 days of a Foxx administration?

He says he wants to form a cabinet of advisers from various segments of the city to come up with ways to get the economy back on track.

Secondly, take a fine-tooth comb to the city's budget to see where the city can save money.

And thirdly he says look for ways the city can help support small businesses.

He'll also be reaching out to Raleigh and Washington for help, which the director of UNC Charlotte's Urban Institute says is important.

Jeff Michael is the director of the institute.  He says, "You may be limited into what you can do yourself in terms of the powers you have to affect those issues but you certainly can set the tone in terms of the relationships you build between the city and whoever the partner is you're looking to."

Foxx says he'll also be using his bully pulpit to work on education.  The mayor and council don't have a lot of sway over the county's public schools but Foxx says if he can encourage citizens to get involved and get kids to stay in school then it's time well spent.  He says education is key to the city's future.

In addition to the swearing in, city leaders paid tribute to Mayor Pat McCrory for his 14 years in office and recognized outgoing council member John Lassiter.