Meet The Republicans Vying To Be Mayor Of Charlotte
The last Republican mayor of Charlotte once told a crowd, "If my dog doesn’t like the mansion we might be spending a lot more time here in Charlotte."
For the record, Pat McCrory’s dog seems to like the governor’s mansion just fine.
Charlotte is a heavily Democratic city, but one with a history of Republican mayors. McCrory served in the post for 14 years. His immediate predecessors, Richard Vinroot and Sue Myrick were also Republicans.
"It gives a little more balance to the city," says Stone. "I think the first word that comes to mind is balance," says Peacock.
A Republican mayor, they argue, would bring a different perspective to a city council overwhelmingly filled with Democrats. (Read about the Democratic candidates here.)
Scott Stone is the president of a large civil engineering firm headquartered in Charlotte. He has never held public office, losing a previous bid for mayor to Anthony Foxx in 2011. Then, as now, Stone is running as a political outsider and a successful businessman.
"I run a company right now, I run big operations for national firms," Stone says. "That’s something I bring to the table that no one else can bring to my level."
As for Edwin Peacock, he was the last Republican candidate elected in a city wide vote, serving as an at-large member of the City Council from 2007 to 2011. During that time he chaired the city’s environment committee where he says he brought together "the wing-tips and the Birkinstocks to come up with a sound policy to balance the growth of Charlotte with the respect for the environment."
Peacock has used his prior experience, and his well known name, to raise $137,000 for this campaign so far. Stone’s campaign has raised $104,000 but that includes a $30,000 loan from Scott Stone himself.
If elected mayor both men say they would bring a sense of fiscal responsibility to a city that’s seen property tax increases in two of the last three years.
Take an issue like the streetcar. The city will pay an estimated $75 million for the first two phases of the project. Proponents say that investment in public transportation will pay off by spurring economic development in east and west Charlotte.
Both Peacock and Stone see the streetcar as a waste of tax money. It’s a terrible form of transportation says Stone.
"I don’t know why people in the east and west are satisfied with a streetcar instead of a light rail line because it operates differently, it’s not as efficient, it’s slow."
There are better ways to revitalize the neighborhoods says Peacock.
"What about building strong neighborhood schools around the areas that are the most challenged? We know strong neighborhoods are always tied to strong schools which lead to strong development around that."
Although it’s the county and state which fund public schools.
On toll lanes, both candidates see them as an option of last resort. A way to pay for needed highway improvements at a time when the state says it can’t.
As for how best to grow Charlotte’s economy, both men see tax incentives as something of a necessary evil to bring businesses to the area. But Edwin Peacock says it’s time to stop South Carolina from luring companies to move just over the border, "because it hollows out our middle, pushes growth around the edges of the city and you see a city that will then obviously choke on its own taxation policies."
Scott Stone agrees. "I’m all for having us compete fairly when something is new to the region. But when South Carolina is paying huge incentives just to lure a company across the border we’ve got to deal with that. That’s unacceptable."
So what differentiates Scott Stone and Edwin Peacock?
Their management style, says Republican political consultant Larry Shaheen.
"Scott is someone who will be able to use the bully pulpit well," Shaheen says.
He adds that Stone will "fight the council when he thinks they’re wrong and he’s not going to care what they think," whereas Peacock tries for consensus.
"Edwin will be someone who will be able to steer policy his own way because of his experience on the board," says Shaheen.
Both Edwin Peacock and Scott Stone believe one of the best ways to better Charlotte is by repairing the city’s relationship with the General Assembly. That’s something, they believe, only a Republican mayor could do.