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Cannon And Peacock Challenge Each Other Over Streetcar

Ben Bradford

Charlotte’s two candidates for mayor met for a debate Thursday at local PBS station WTVI. The city’s Capital Improvement Plan and the building of a streetcar were the most contentious topics, as they have been throughout the campaign.

Capital Improvement Plan

City councilman Patrick Cannon, the Democratic candidate, voted for the capital improvement plan. He argued the investment in neighborhoods and roads is worth a property tax increase of a little over 3 cents for every $100 in property.

“I would think that it’s worth three pennies to make sure we’re doing what we can for our corridors that are in distress, for the community overall, and providing connections that need to be had accordingly,” Cannon said.

"Yes, we need to continue to invest in the City of Charlotte and continue to build the infrastructure that we so desperately need as we grow,” Republican candidate and former city councilman Edwin Peacock said in his response. “We also must be mindful of where we are in this economy and how to move us forward. I don’t believe that moving us forward includes a tax increase at this time.”

The Streetcar

Cannon also voted for a plan to fund a streetcar.

“We’re talking about creating 4,500 job opportunities, we’re talking about the development of 1.1 million square feet, and we’re talking about anywhere between $4 million to $7 million annually to reinvest back into our coffers,” he said.

But Cannon broke with former mayor Anthony Foxx and other Democrats last year to vote against using property taxes to fund a streetcar. Peacock tried to portray that as flip-flopping.

“His voting record is quite checkered as it relates to this,” Peacock said.

Cannon used one of three challenges to respond that he was not opposed to the streetcar. But, that was not the end. Peacock used one of his challenges.

“And, so we have a challenge to the challenge,” said WTVI director Amy Burkett, who moderated the debate.

Peacock used the challenge to discuss his opposition to the streetcar more in-depth. He does not believe the project gives the necessary bang for the buck.

“We know the half-cent sales tax is not enough to continue to build out and reduce congestion,” said Peacock.

As he was finishing, Cannon raised his yellow card.

“We have a challenge to the challenge to the challenge,” Burkett announced.

And, that was the last challenge of the night, as the conversation shifted to education, affordable housing, and the airport.

The full debate airs tonight at 8 p.m. on WTVI. The League of Women Voters and The Junior League of Charlotte also sponsored the event.