6 Months Out Of Prison, Patrick Cannon Now Offering Advice To Up-And-Coming Candidates
Patrick Cannon will mark six months since he was released from federal prison Monday, and since then, the former Charlotte mayor has bounced back into public life remarkably fast.
Cannon, who resigned in 2014 after pleading guilty to public corruption charges, now has his own radio show, and over the weekend, he was invited to sit on a panel and offer advice to people seeking public office.
He gave plenty of practical advice - how to set up and organize a campaign, how to identify issues important to the community - and he also advised attendees not to get "sore" when people aren't supportive.
"Let people say what they want to say - report what they want to report," he said, "But know who you are and whose you are, and as long as you know that, nothing or nobody can ever define you."
Cannon also gave pointers on how to deal with reporters, advising the audience to ask what angle a reporter is focusing on before granting interviews. While he says it's good to be open to the media, candidates shouldn't be afraid to decline an interview or tell a reporter "no comment" when the situation calls for it.
"Find a way to control the message," he said, "Don't let the media control the message."
The former mayor also spoke on the uniqueness of the Charlotte electorate, advising the audience to refrain from mudslinging.
"When we were vying for mayor, my opponent in the primary just started throwing all kinds of zingers out there," he said. "In Charlotte-Mecklenburg, people take more issue with you attacking people than they do with you just leaving them alone."
Two former school board members, Wilhelmenia Rembert and Arthur Griffin, joined Cannon at the event hosted by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Black Political Caucus. The discussion was held at CN Jenkins Presbyterian Church on Statesville Ave. It was moderated by County Commissioner George Dunlap and BPC President, Colette Forrest.
When the panel discussion was over, Cannon was asked by reporters whether he thought he was in the best position to give advice to potential candidates, given his history. He answered by saying it was important for those interested in running for office to engage with the panelists and get information on the campaign process.
A reporter followed up by asking whether he, himself might be considering another run for public office, to which Cannon smiled and said, "No comment," adding that he was focused on his family, and "anything else that may come is God's will."