CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte's Labor Day Parade was full of bands, labor unions, and politicians. Candidates running for office participated in the parade in order to get some attention about their upcoming races. The primary is September 12, and candidates used the parade to convince voters to vote for them.
"We are going to pass out 10,000 mailers to talk about creating jobs, affordable housing, keeping your community safe," at-large candidate James Mitchell said.
Mitchell thinks many voters weren't thinking about the primary. They were too worried about the opening of school. He says now that school has started, candidates want the focus put back on the races.
Election leaders think there will be about a 10% voter turnout. Candidates hope their presence at the Labor Day Parade will make a difference and increase the turnout.
"I would love if we could get about 12 to 14 percent if we can," Mitchell said. "So today is the first day of really campaigning."
The Charlotte Labor Day Parade started back in 1999. Organizers call it an old-fashioned parade and say it's union-made. There were no corporate sponsors. The parade was put on by workers, and candidates say that's who should be the focus of the event.
"We want to continue to support the people who are building our city," current Mayor and candidate Jennifer Roberts said.
Mayoral candidate Joel Ford agrees, and showed up at the parade to connect with people.
"It's all about the people," Ford said. "I am super excited. I want to shake as many hands as I possibly can."
Parade organizers say about 15,000 people showed up along the Labor Day Parade route. Candidates say this was an opportunity they could not pass up.
"Yesterday I talked to 300 people," mayoral Candidate Vi Lyles said. "Today we'll see at least 300 people, so I want everyone to come out and vote because you need a voice in this election."
Nearly 60 organizations participated in this year's parade, and some of them were candidates walking and waving to voters to remind them to vote and not forget about the upcoming primary.
"Any time you get some visibility, show some support for good causes - like working families and laborers - then that's important and that helps people remember - hey there is a primary election," District 2 candidate Justin Harlow said.
Voters say coming to the parade made the difference for them. They received lots of campaign literature.
"At least I can go home and read them and see what they are about," voter Doris Kearns said.
Some voters say they didn't know exactly who was running, but now they do thanks to coming to the Labor Day Parade. They say they will look at the handouts to determine who is best to serve.
Candidates say with more early voting sites opening up Tuesday, they hope more people will head to the polls and vote in this year's primary.