These Were The Most Powerful Voices In Charlotte In 2018

Dec 25, 2018

As 2018 draws to a close, we're taking a look back at some of the most powerful voices we heard in our community this year and how we've felt their impact in both real and intangible ways.

Amy Aussieker And Emily Yates, Envision Charlotte - Charlotte Leaders, Organizations Want To Turn Waste Into Jobs

"Amy Aussieker and Emily Yates, of Envision Charlotte, run the initiative funded by Duke Energy/Cisco/Charlotte Center City Partners to promote energy efficiency and sustainability in uptown's buildings. As the city continues to push its goal of zero-carbon emissions in public facilities by 2030 and talk up the idea in the private sector, they'll continue to be important voices.

Also in this vein is Shannon Binns, executive director of Sustain Charlotte, which also is an important effort to promote sustainability in Charlotte - everything from energy efficiency to public transit." - David Boraks

Clayton Wilcox, Superintendent, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools 

"Wilcox faced a school shooting that shook the county, faced controversy surrounding lead in water in CMS schools and brought raises to all bus drivers in his system." - Justin Lape

Carolina Panthers Owner David Tepper - No 'Bull-Dingie': Panthers Owner Distinguishes Himself In Supporting Player Protests

"David Tepper took over as the owner of the Carolina Panthers and immediately made it clear that things would be done differently than under Jerry Richardson, who sold the team in the midst of a sexual harassment scandal.

Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper.
Credit David Boraks / WFAE

Tepper said it was fine with him if players knelt during the national anthem to protest police shootings and other inequities. He backed that up by signing Eric Reid, who had been out of the league after helping lead the original protests. Richardson ran the team in near-silence. Tepper has already shown he’s not afraid to speak out." - Tommy Tomlinson

"We didn't hear from David Tepper often, but the new owner of the Carolina Panthers has quickly set himself apart from his predecessor Jerry Richardson. After buying the team for $2.2 billion in July, Tepper told reporters it was 'a new day for this organization.'

He pledged to avoid the troubles of the past, a reference to allegations of sexual and racial misconduct Richardson. And he said he planned to "modernize" the team's "out of date" facilities to improve conditions for both players and fans. He also hinted that he'll seek local tax dollars to help pay for improvements. In December, a news report said the Panthers were considering building a new practice facility and headquarters across the SC border in Fort Mill. Tepper also broke with fellow owners by saying he supports players who kneel for the National Anthem." - David Boraks

Laura Clark, United Way Of Central Carolinas - United Way Of Central Carolinas Names New CEO

"As the No. 2 at the United Way, Clark helped shift the organization's work to focus more on economic mobility and poverty - and neighborhoods. As its leader now, she'll b called on to keep that effort going, and to keep funding up for this new direction." - David Boraks

Linda - She Says: An Investigative Podcast From WFAE

"I think Linda was one of the most powerful voices of Charlotte in 2018. She shared her unfiltered story of her sexual assault and how CMPD investigated it. Sharing what happened to Linda led CMPD to apologize for how officers treated her and examine their practices. Linda inspired many other sexual assault survivors to share their experiences with WFAE." - Alex Olgin

Credit Greg Harris

"Linda. I believe her voice was one of the most powerful of 2018. Her voice gave one to so many who can’t speak for themselves." - Sarah Delia

"Linda from She Says. Hard-pressed to find anything more powerful than hearing her tell her story this year. It’s the one that has stayed with me the longest." - Marshall Terry

"Linda was a prominent voice in WFAE's She Says podcast. She showed great courage in telling a story of her sexual assault that many wouldn't dare to tell. Her fortitude was admirable in her quest to find justice for her attacker's heinous act." - Justin Lape

Nannie Potts, Former Cornelius Mayor - Remembering Nannie Potts, 1st Female And Only Black Mayor Of Cornelius

"The passing of Nannie Potts turned eyes to the legacy she set as a community member in the Smithville neighborhood of Cornelius. Beyond her personal accomplishments, the way she inspired and lifted up people around her will last for years to come." - Cole del Charco

Ryan Pitkin, Creator Of Queen City Nerve - New Publication From Creative Loafing Veterans To Launch In December

Credit Sarah Delia / WFAE

" 'It’s important for us to not hang around and just sort of sit on our hands and wonder if this is the right decision or not,' Ryan Pitkin said. Rather than stop the Charlotte arts/music presses following the announcement of alt-weekly magazine Creative Loafing’s digital evolution, the former staff (including its Editor-in-Chief Pitkin) rallied together to create their own publication: Queen City Nerve." - Joni Deutsch

Sam Bethea, 'Jesus Saves' Guy - FAQ City: Meet The 'Jesus Saves' Guy In Uptown Charlotte

"I had no idea what to expect when I set out in search of Sam for this story in November. Of course, I had heard him bellowing his Christian message in uptown many times before. When I finally caught up with him, I found Sam incredibly friendly and willing to tell his story, and he’s a very engaging speaker.

Credit Nick de la Canal / WFAE

Moreso, our interview was interrupted several times by people who knew Sam, both businessmen and homeless people alike, who stopped by to check in with Sam and say 'hi.' Some even sat down and listened in as I asked Sam about where he had been and where he was going.

Sam’s authenticity and full-hearted commitment to his beliefs resonated with me, and still do today." - Nick de la Canal

Tom Hanchett, Community Historian - FAQ City: Why Is Downtown Charlotte Called 'Uptown'?

"Hanchett left the Levine Museum of the New South three years ago, but he remains a leader in efforts to keep Charlotte's history alive — and continues to use its history to inform the wider community conversation about economic mobility and affordable housing. Thousands of people have heard his lectures or taken his tours on the history of neighborhood segregation and redlining through the Community Building Initiative. He'll continue to be an important voice in 2019." - David Boraks

Mayor Vi Lyles - Charlotte Talks: Mike and the Mayor

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles joined Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins.
Credit Jennifer Worsham / WFAE

"Vi Lyles is in the second year of her first two-year term as mayor. Since taking office a year ago, she has led a rethinking of the city's priorities and reshaped the way the council brings new ideas to the table, through committees and meetings with staff, council discussions, and eventually into items on the council agenda. On affordable housing, she helped boost the Housing Trust Fund bond to $50 million. She took an unpopular stance but helped lead the effort to get the 2020 Republican National Convention here. In 2019, housing will remain a focus for her as will discussions about the future of the Carolina Panthers' facilities here." - David Boraks

Tariq Bokhari, Charlotte City Councilmember - Charlotte Talks: Meck GOP Assesses Future After Midterm Rout

"Tariq Bokhari is one of the few Charlotte-area Republicans left in office after November's midterm election. He had an interesting year discussing how the GOP should operate and connect with more of the voting public, especially as many in our community have voiced opposition to allies of President Trump and the Republican National Convention coming to Charlotte in 2020. He's been steadfast in discussing bipartisanship throughout his first year on the council. Couple that with his podcast with fellow councilmember Larken Egleston, R&D in the QC, Bokhari has been a key figure in Charlotte politics to watch. Plus, as the number of Republican voices has dwindled, Bokhari's and others have increased in importance as a conduit for state Republicans." - Zuri Berry

Braxton Winston, Charlotte City Councilmember - Debate Widens Over Whether Charlotte Should Host RNC

"The idea of bringing the 2020 Republican National Convention to Charlotte seemed to be on cruise control among council members last summer until council member Winston voiced concerns through a video on social media. Suddenly, there was a big debate over the convention. About 100 people for and against showed up at a council meeting to voice their opinions. Although the council approved the RNC coming to town, it narrowly did so with a 6-5 vote. The debate became a big part of the local and national coverage surrounding the RNC’s selection of Charlotte." - Greg Collard

As we cap off 2018, WFAE’s staff members share their most memorable moments and stories of the year. Find each of our Best of 2018 posts here