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Clodfelter On New Job: 'Mayor Like Orchestra's Conductor'

Wednesday, Dan Clodfelter was sworn in as Mayor of Charlotte. 

There was the pledge of allegiance, an oath of office and prayer…more or less the standard affair.  Of course how Clodfelter became mayor was anything but. WFAE's Tom Bullock sat down with Charlotte's new mayor just after the ceremony.


Credit Tom Bullock/WFAE News
Mayor Dan Clodfelter in his new office

I met Dan Clodfelter in his office – the same office raided by FBI agents just two weeks ago. And where former Mayor Patrick Cannon is accused of taking $20,000 in a leather briefcase – delivered by an undercover agent.

The City Council appointed Clodfelter to serve as mayor until December of 2015 – the remainder of Cannon’s term.

TB: The council members were very open at the fact that you and other candidates called to lobby for votes.  And I’m curious what you told them.

DC: Well, I didn’t tell them anything that they didn’t ask. What I did was offer to meet or talk, to answer questions. There are council members that knew me. And there are council members that didn’t know me and that I didn’t know. And I wanted make sure everybody had a fair chance to sort of go through with me anything they wanted to know about me or ask about me before they thought about it.   

TB: So what did they ask?

DC: (Laughs) Everything under the sun. Probably everything that you would ask or are asking or will ever ask.

TB: One of the questions I’m wondering if they asked is this – there are a number of city council members that are reportedly interested in seeking the mayor’s office in 2015. Did you ever promise to not run or were you asked not to run?

DC: Some of them asked me, not all of them but some of them said would you not run in 2015. I said look, I have no plans to run in 2015. I also said to them though, I said to them you know, if we get down the road and you guys think this is working out pretty cool, I would look at doing it a bit more but not much.

TB: You are taking office after an unprecedented political scandal. What is your role as you see it.  I mean after the scandal is it bully-pulpit leader? Is it backseat to the council? Is it public relations for the city? How do you see it?

DC: Well, there are several roles. The mayor does represent the city to the public outside of Charlotte and the world at large. The mayor does assist the council in trying to find its own center. In trying to find its own voice and vision. I’ve said the mayor is somewhat like an orchestra conductor, he doesn’t make the music but he keeps the orchestra together so its voice fills the hall. That, I don’t consider to be back seat by the way. I intend to be an engaged mayor. But not a mayor who tries to drive the council.

TB: Well, you bring up a couple of interesting points here. The first of which is, through no fault of your own, the way you received this office. You were appointed. You did not run. You do not have a mandate from the population. You also weren’t able to provide to the people of Charlotte, basically, a platform of what you would like to do. Well, I’m wondering now what would your platform be? What would you like to see happen here?

DC: (Laughs) Oh, now you’re going to get me in trouble here because you’re now asking the Christmas wish list kind of question. And that’s not what I’m going to do is have a Christmas wish list. Look, Tom, there are an awful lot of things I’ve been involved with over the years, as a councilman first and then as a state legislator. You look at that track record and you pretty much see where my interests and inclinations lie. I’ve always been big no planning and on neighborhood development and revitalization. Those have been important to me. And there’s no secret about it. So if the council has an interest in those issues, I’m going to be right here with them.

TB: And you do have the experience between the city and the state legislature. I’m wondering what that relationship is like though now between heavily Democratic Charlotte and a legislature that is obviously significantly Republican.

DC: Right. One of the great things to me that I discovered in the legislature was regardless of party affiliation within the legislative delegation we generally tended to come together for issues important to Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

TB: I am wondering though with an issue like the airport, if the Patrick Cannon scandal may hurt the city’s efforts to keep control of Charlotte-Douglas International.

DC: Well, I would hope it doesn’t and I would be surprised if it did because the things that have been put in the allegations against Mr. Cannon have nothing to do with the airport. And so I would be very disappointed if that issue played into the airport matters.

TB: My last question is are you aware that your mustache has a twitter handle?

DC: Um, I’m not aware of that no. And the handle is?

TB: Mayorstache, it's @Mayorstache. Any comments for your mustache when it comes to the twitter account?

DC: (Laughing) I think it’s very creative. (Laughs) I promise to take good care of it.

Tom Bullock decided to trade the khaki clad masses and traffic of Washington DC for Charlotte in 2014. Before joining WFAE, Tom spent 15 years working for NPR. Over that time he served as everything from an intern to senior producer of NPR’s Election Unit. Tom also spent five years as the senior producer of NPR’s Foreign Desk where he produced and reported from Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Haiti, Egypt, Libya, Lebanon among others. Tom is looking forward to finally convincing his young daughter, Charlotte, that her new hometown was not, in fact, named after her.