Featured Photo Above: Mayor Dan Clodfelter stands in his government center office in May 2014, one month after being appointed to the position by Charlotte City Council. Photo by Matt Comer.
The Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee (MeckPAC) has released their full primary election voter guide, including an endorsement for mayoral candidate and incumbent Dan Clodfelter and tips on the receptiveness of other candidates running for City Council.
MeckPAC says Dan’s the man
Eight candidates are running for mayor — six in the Democratic primary and two in the Republican primary — but only one, it seems, was able to get the nod from MeckPAC.
The group has endorsed incumbent Dan Clodfelter, passing over other candidates like Jennifer Roberts and David Howard.
MeckPAC listed Roberts and Howard as “receptive,” along with openly gay political newcomer Roderick Davis. The group says a receptive candidate “expresses some level of support for LGBT equality.”
Michael Barnes, another leading mayoral contender, has been a staunch opponent of LGBT equality measures. He was given a warning. MeckPAC says they “strongly discourage support” for candidates with a warning.
Passing over Roberts could come as a shock to some LGBT supporters. She’s liked by many LGBT community members, and she was largely seen as one of the most outspoken local elected allies when she served on the Mecklenburg County Commission. In 2012, however, while she was running for Congress, she declined to speak out forcefully against the state’s now-unconstitutional anti-LGBT marriage ban.
The Roberts campaign responded Thursday to the endorsement news.
“Jennifer is excited about her deep support in the LGBT community due to her long history of standing up for equality and inclusion,” campaign communications director Gregg Watkins said in an emailed statement. “Jennifer helped bring domestic partner benefits for county employees, spoke in favor of the undiluted ordinance, and publicly opposed Amendment 1. Many in the LGBT community remember her support and will be voting for her in the primary.”
Howard is seen by some as open and friendly — at least willing to listen to LGBT residents’ concerns and issues when other Council members have been shut off to discussion. He has attended LGBT events, participated in MeckPAC’s questionnaire and interview process and was present at the August candidate forum. But he was uncomfortable with the full, comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance presented to Council earlier this year and had proposed his own solution that would have started to create gender neutral restroom requirements in new building codes. That proposal wasn’t officially heard by Council and Howard eventually voted for a compromise version that stripped out protections for transgender residents.
Ultimately, even the compromise ordinance failed — acting as the impetus for the launch of MeckPAC’s, Equality NC’s and the Human Rights Campaign’s coordinated campaign effort, TurnOUT Charlotte!
Peacock’s feathers ruffled over MeckPAC ‘warning’
MeckPAC issued no endorsements in the Republican primary for mayor.
They did, however, give a warning to Edwin Peacock, a surprising departure from Peacock’s past friendly openness to LGBT inclusion. He had once received endorsements from MeckPAC when he was an at-large Council member. QNotes endorsed his at-large run in 2011. Personally and as an individual voter, I endorsed him for mayor in 2013.
Peacock said Thursday morning he disagreed with MeckPAC’s labeling.
“I’ve been consistently fair, open and honest since 2007,” said Peacock, noting his past openness when serving on Council from 2007-2011.
“Unlike other Republicans, I’ve always answered [MeckPAC’s] survey,” Peacock added, making a contrast between himself and Republican primary opponent Scott Stone.
Stone did not return a MeckPAC questionnaire. Stone has previously been outspoken on his support for North Carolina’s unconstitutional anti-LGBT marriage ban and his opposition to LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinances.
Peacock said he’s far friendlier to the community than Stone, who he pointed out enthusiastically received an endorsement from anti-gay First Baptist Charlotte Pastor Mark Harris. Peacock said he’s not received any anti-gay endorsements and has a clear record of support.
“I’ve been consistent and clear,” Peacock said, noting he was the only local Republican running for Congress in 2012 to oppose the state’s anti-LGBT marriage ban. “I’m trying to build a city that is welcoming to all who can make a positive contribution here. I’ve made the contrast between my opponent, who is talking about his ‘One Charlotte’ campaign, but only showing up to one part of Charlotte — South Charlotte — and not answering MeckPAC’s survey. So, to be given a warning? Really?”
Peacock’s “warning” stems from his position on the non-discrimination ordinance, according to MeckPAC leaders.
Peacock said Thursday he is not in favor of the full, comprehensive version that included protections for transgender people. He also said he believes the proposal was contentious — among both community members an Council — and that it should have been heard through Council’s committee process.
Peacock’s position on the ordinance and his general willingness to interact with the LGBT community is not too dissimilar from Howard’s stances. Howard received a “receptive” label.
The group did not endorse or measure Republican at-large candidates; the three candidates — Pablo Carvajal, John Powell Jr. and David Michael Rice — are not facing a primary in September and will move directly to the general election. MeckPAC will is expected to release general election endorsements after the primary.
Carvajal and Rice were the only two Republicans running for either mayor or Council to attend an LGBT community candidate forum earlier in August.
Council candidates ranked
MeckPAC’s endorsements for City Council are being shared mutually with Equality North Carolina and the Human Rights Campaign. The three organizations announced their mutual slate on Wednesday.
Endorsed at-large candidates include: Julie Eiselt, Vi Lyles, Billy Maddalon and James “Smuggie” Mitchell.
Endorsed district races include: District 2’s Al Austin, District 3’s LaWana Mayfield and District 5’s John Autry. Each are facing a contested Democratic primary.
The group measured the friendliness of other candidates, despite offering them no endorsement. Receptive candidates include: Darrell Bonapart, Bruce Clark, Sean Gautam and Mo Idlibby.
In a departure from the past, incumbent at-large Councilmember Claire Fallon was given a warning. It’s largely believed that Fallon’s lost vote caused the demise of March’s comprehensive LGBT non-discrimination ordinance, though she has denied it. Fallon was endorsed in 2013 and had received a $1,000 contribution from MeckPAC.
COMING FRIDAY: Some community members disagree with the slate of endorsed candidates TurnOUT Charlotte!. I’ll talk to some of them about their disagreement and why they’ll be voting for other candidates.