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Charlotte Area News

City Council's Eiselt Expects RNC Vote To Pass

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CITY OF CHARLOTTE
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It’s big day for Charlotte City Council. In what’s sure to be a contentious meeting this afternoon, the council will hold a special meeting on whether to host the 2020 Republican National Convention.

Before the meeting, some Democratic Party activists will hold a rally outside the government center to urge council to vote no. At least three of the 11 council members have said they will vote no – and five have said they will vote yes. One of them is Mayor Pro-Tem Julie Eiselt. She spoke to WFAE’s Marshall Terry on Morning Edition. Here are some of the highlights:

Marshall Terry: So why do you support bringing the Republican National Convention to Charlotte?

Julie Eiselt: In March, ten of the eleven council members gave the mayor the green light to move forward and she did that. I think that now on the eve of this decision, it could bring irreparable damage to our city to walk that back. We hosted the Democratic Convention in 2012 and we did it because we wanted to show that Charlotte could compete on a world stage. We did it very well. Since then,  we've been able to get bids for the PGA tournament, for the All-Star game and for a lot of other big conventions that have come to the city. At that time in March, certainly that's what most people felt was that that was the right thing to do. Also, to show that we are a serious business city that isn't good to put politics before everything else.

Terry: You mentioned irreperable damage. What do you mean by that?

Eiselt: Well, we're a Democratic city, in a state controlled by Republicans, in a country controlled by Republicans and we've got to have relationships with our state and federal government. We've seen the damage it can cause by how bad our relationship is. We've been through HB2. Some people keep saying well you're saying that we're going to be held hostage and that's not it. It's relationships. We've got to have relationships with the state and federal government to accomplish our goals for affordable housing, for transit, for building our infrastructure, for keeping our airport, for anything we want to do. Any of our priorities in this city. We can't do it alone.

Terry: There are a lot of people saying as an argument for voting no that the city should not host the convention because President Trump does not represent the city's values or to quote a petition that the Democratic women in Mecklenburg County has linked to on its website that "even hosting the RNC gives rubber stamp approval to everything the Trump administration has done." What do you say to those people?

Eiselt: I don't agree with that. I don't agree with the president of this country either. But I do believe that the only thing that works is to get out and change people's minds and change people's votes because at the end of the day, we are a democracy. As far as I can tell, it's the best system that works even when it's flawed and ugly. But changing people's minds and changing people's votes is the only thing that's going to change anything in this country.

Terry: Friday after meeting with the city manager, at large City Council member Dimple Ajmera said she would vote no because of potential liability, unknown risk and exposure. You then tweeted that she was looking for an easy out to vote no, as you mentioned, because there is protective language in the contract... what did you mean when you said out?

Eiselt: First of all, I apologize to council member Ajmera. I shouldn't have tweeted that out because it propagates the same thing that is just killing us in this country, is that people take it out on social media. So that wasn't right on my part. That said, we are protected. If people need to vote no, they need to just vote no. But honestly, that makes us look like we were willing to put taxpayers at risk for this convention which a lot of people don't want anyway and so it just kind of exasperated peoples emotions and feelings. And to think that the council would put them into that kind of risk position is just not true.

Terry: What do you expect to happen today? Do you expect council to vote yes on moving ahead with hosting the convention?

Eiselt: I do. I think we've got six votes to move forward.