First day of candidate filing draws political newcomers in Mecklenburg County

First day of candidate filing draws political newcomers in Mecklenburg County

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - On day one of candidate filing in Mecklenburg County, there were about 30 people who completed paperwork and paid the fee to run for office.

People have signed up to run for the three at-large seats up for grabs on the Charlotte Mecklenburg School board, all Charlotte City Council seats,

The Office of Charlotte Mayor, and other political offices in the surrounding jurisdictions.

The District Two Charlotte City Council race is wide open. The current representative, Dr. Justin Harlow, has decided not to run again.

The person who wants to replace Harlow is political newcomer Jessica Davis. She addressed the crowd right before she filed her candidacy.

“Over the years I have lived in various parts of the district,” Davis said. “So I have had the opportunity to see some growth, but also stagnation. I have watched people sell their homes, and the demographic of some segments of the district change.”

Her supporters believe since District Two consists of majority females - a woman should be elected. Davis moved to Charlotte at the age of 17 when she became a student at Johnson C. Smith University. She says she is “unbought and unbossed.”

“There are over 110,000 people that reside in District 2 that are under served,” Davis said. “It is time for District 2 to get the same accessibility to the services and amenities that other parts of this city experience.”

The Charlotte City Council District Four seat is also open. Current District four city council member Greg Phipps has decided not to run again. Charlene Henderson showed up on day one of filing to officially campaign for the council seat.

“I just want to make sure you guys know that I am a voice for the voiceless,” Henderson said. “And we talk about community and development - that’s one of my platforms. We talk about community and involvement - that’s one of my platforms and community policing - public safety is a key issue.”

While the city council races will consist of newcomers - it will also involve candidates who have run before. Charlotte City councilmen Larken Egleston, Matt Newton and Ed Driggs signed up to run for re-election. Driggs is running for a fourth term in office. He told his supporters at the Board of Elections he will run on his record.

“Fiscal responsibility and common sense,” Driggs said. “We cannot tax the residents of Charlotte out of this city and bankrupt ourselves with excess spending.”

The Charlotte Mayor’s Race will present a fresh 20 year old face. Joel Odom wants to replace Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles. He says he is up for the challenge and will ignore voters who believe he is too young to run.

“I am excited to prove all those individuals wrong,” Odom said. “To show them that I have what it takes to be that leader.”

Odom says he is troubled by the violence happening in the city. He says he has attended six funerals in six months. His friends were murdered - most of them in Charlotte. He believes if he wins he could offer young people hope and help make the city safe.

“Someone has to inspire young people,” Odom said. “That’s the only solution. Someone has to really care about the individuals in Charlotte and I care.”

Jim Morrill has been covering Charlotte politics for nearly 40 years. He is a reporter with the Charlotte Observer. He believes there is one Charlotte race to watch this year.

“I think probably the At-Large race because you have four incumbents who are expected to run again,” Morrill said. “And then you have Lawana Mayfield and you have a couple of interesting outsiders - first timers running - including the man who is trying to become the first Latino on council.”

Morrill says it is interesting that there is no serious Republican candidate running for mayor this year. The last time a republican was mayor of Charlotte was about 10 years ago.

“It’s been a long dry spell for them,” Morrill said. “And it doesn’t look like it’s going to change. I think it just says that Charlotte is getting to be more and more a Democratic city.”

Education is on the minds of several people who filed to run for Charlotte Mecklenburg School (CMS) Board. Monty Witherspoon is a CMS graduate. He failed the 3rd and 7th grade. He managed to graduate on time and went off to college and earn a doctorate. He says he is on a mission when it comes to education.

“I want to make sure that every student in this county graduates college and career ready,” Witherspoon said. “I want to also make sure that every student has access to a quality education regardless of what zip code they live in.”

Another person who wants to have a say in public education is Lenora Shipp. She has run before, but this time she is running for an at-large seat. She says work needs to be done in the classrooms.

“We must make it happen - not for one but for all,” Shipp said. “We got to accelerate as hard as we re-mediate.”

Candidate filing ends July 19.

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