Mecklenburg County commissioner candidates: Where they stand on key issues | Charlotte Observer

Commissioners at-large

Pat Cotham (Democrat)

Age: 67

Education: BJ University of MO-Journalism BA Spanish University of MO

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Professional experience: 15 years corporate world in sales and management, 9 years small business (Executive Search) three years at a non-profit helping people with records find employment

Previous public offices held: County Commissioner since 2012

Family: one daughter, two grandsons,

Website: www.patcotham.org

Do you support the county’s participation in the 287(g) immigration program? If you do not, what if any action would you take to compel the Sheriff’s Office to withdraw from the program?

I do not support (and have not supported since 2006) the Sheriff’s (not the county’s ) participation with 287G. I have asked, and I have been told the county cannot compel him to change it.

Police Chief Kerr Putney said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools should “wand” everyone who enters the district’s schools. Would you support such a program and provide county money to implement it?

My first response is no but I am always open to listen to any idea.

Last year, the Opportunity Task Force released a report on improving economic mobility in Charlotte. What do you think the city or county could do to improve economic mobility that hasn’t been tried before?

What we are doing is not working. We rarely hear the net gains and I think there are not any net gains because we are tearing down older apartments in higher numbers than we are building new ones with lower rents. I have no confidence that the city can solve the problem-it is too big of a challenge. I think the county needs to help. I also think we are not making the hard ask of faith communities and corporations here in the area. I asked the Pastor of my church for $2M and asked him to pray about it and I would be back to ask again. We need to talk more about wages. So many people can’t pay the deposit. Could we establish a fund to help people get into a place? Many of our homeless neighbors are working and trying to save money for a down-payment on rent. The legislature has allowed the deterioration of the rights of tenants. Serious talks with them might help the problem if they would reverse that. Another thing -could we work out a deal with Spectrum or some provider for free Wifi in areas of the county where people need it and cannot afford it. While traveling for the DNC, I saw where other counties provided it. Banks are not loaning money for affordable housing. We need to ask why not?

Gerenda D. Davis (Democrat)

Age: 58

Education: Master’s Degree in Public Administration from UNC-Charlotte

Professional experience: 28 1/2 years with the CMPD, 21 years as a supervisor. Led the in-house Charlotte Police Department’s reduction /consolidation of internal supervisory investigative packets. Led the implementation of the CMPD’s in-car video camera system.

Previous public offices held: None

Family: Divorced, one daughter, one son, three grandsons and a great-granddaughter

Website: None

Do you support the county’s participation in the 287(g) immigration program? If you do not, what if any action would you take to compel the Sheriff’s Office to withdraw from the program?

I don’t support 287(g) and if there is a contract in place I would let it expire and not renew it. If there is no legal commitment I would end it asap.

Police Chief Kerr Putney said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools should “wand” everyone who enters the district’s schools. Would you support such a program and provide county money to implement it?

Maybe, however, I would review all available options in search of the best idea before voting to support and spend money on a program.

Last year, the Opportunity Task Force released a report on improving economic mobility in Charlotte. What do you think the city or county could do to improve economic mobility that hasn’t been tried before?

I support the freezing of some government employees (County Commissioners, School Board Members, Dept. heads, Technical staff, & administrators ) wages until those lesser paid employees are paid a living wage (currently $15 per hour).

Trevor M. Fuller (Democrat)

Age: 50

Education: A.B., Hamilton College; J.D., Georgetown University Law Center

Professional experience: Attorney practicing law since 1993.

Previous public offices held: County Commissioner At Large

Family: Wife, Camille Davidson, and two children, one in college and one in CMS.

Website: www.votetrevorfuller.com

Do you support the county’s participation in the 287(g) immigration program? If you do not, what if any action would you take to compel the Sheriff’s Office to withdraw from the program?

I have made clear that I do not now support, nor have I ever supported, the 287(g) program. Although I do not believe we have the legal authority to compel the Sheriff to withdraw, I would support the adoption of a resolution by the County Commission condemning participation in the program.

Police Chief Kerr Putney said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools should “wand” everyone who enters the district’s schools. Would you support such a program and provide county money to implement it?

I recoil at the notion that our children would be subjected to “wanding” in our schools. But I do agree that we should consider additional security measures to ensure the safety of our children in the schoolhouses, and I would support additional county funding to implement such additional measures.

Last year, the Opportunity Task Force released a report on improving economic mobility in Charlotte. What do you think the city or county could do to improve economic mobility that hasn’t been tried before?

Of course, I am gratified that my call to action in forming the Economic Opportunity Task Force has resulted in such a robust community response. The report from the Task Force makes specific recommendations. Now, we need to develop and adopt a plan of action specific to Mecklenburg County flowing from these recommendations. (My vision is that the municipalities and the school board would do the same.) The plan of action would embrace real, systemic changes, not cosmetic changes or simply new programs. As an example, we are in the process of implementing my vision to have Universal Pre-K in Mecklenburg County so that all of our children, from birth to age 5, will have access to a quality early childhood education, no matter their zip code or socioeconomic condition.

Jamie Hildreth (Democrat)

Age: 28

Education: Anson High School in 2008 and studied Political Science at UNC Charlotte

Professional experience: Organizing for America 2012 Kay Hagan for US Senate 2014 Wells Fargo, Customer Service Repsentative, Small Businss Banker, and Small Business Fraud Specialist 2014-2018 Latin American Coalition, Executive Assistant 2013-2014 Charlotte Pride Committee 2012-current MeckPAC Board (Mecklenburg County LGBTQ Political Action Committee) 2012-2018, Chairman 2016-2018

Previous public offices held: First time candidate.

Family: I do not have the tradtional answer you’re looking for here. I am single and currently do not have a partner. I am the grandson of Charlotte natives Harry (deceased) and Gloria Fincher. Harry was a VP and Plant Operations at Concrete Supply and involved in high profile projects such as the construction of Bank of America Headquarters, Bank of America stadium, UNCC and so forth due to his position and he was a recipient of the local Pinnacle Award for business. My mother is Crystal Fincher-Hildreth and my father is Shannon Hildreth, they divorced when I was less than a year old. My mother was a survivor of severe domestic violence. I am the youngest of 3 children, I have one brother, John Hildreth (oldest), and one sister Melinda Hildreth (middle). Melinda has two children, Miranda and Mylie.

Website: jamiehildreth.com

Do you support the county’s participation in the 287(g) immigration program? If you do not, what if any action would you take to compel the Sheriff’s Office to withdraw from the program?

I do not support 287(g). Only 67 counties around the nation participate in this program which means there are literally thousands of counties across the US that have a way of identifying those who come through their jails, so 287(g) is not the only way as Sheriff Carmichael likes to say. I believe there are two options the county commission can take to pressure the Sheriff to end the program. The simplest is a symbolic resolution against it. The Sheriff, like CMS, must request his funding from County Commission. So, to have the body that funds the Sheriff come out against 287(g) would send a powerful message to the immigrant community and the whole county that Mecklenburg County is a safe home for everyone and that you should not fear your local law enforcement. We need advocates on county commission, not those who are afraid to lead or use power where they have it. And many of our incumbents aren’t even willing to this resolution that would mean so much to the community. This is one of the reasons why I am running. Secondly, and this is an absolute last resort that should only occur after many discussions, the county commission should get creative and see if there is a legal way to defund the program. In 2006, former Sheriff Jim Pendergraph had to request the approval of county commission to enter the 287(g) agreement because at the time he did not have the positions to enforce it. He needed ten new positions so like all organizations the county funds he went to the commission and requested additional dollars. Since that time, no other Sheriff has had to ask for permission to re-up the contact because the positions are there already, and the county has continued to fund them. Per the ICE agreement, the sheriff’s office is responsible for all personnel and ICE pays for the software and reimburses the MCSO on a per day basis per individual they hold. Our county is profiting on the backs of the most marginalized. The Observer itself has reported on the story of Gus Zamudio, who wasn’t even convicted but still forced to leave under a voluntary order. Under our current administration 287(g) has been turned into a weapon not a tool of the law. To end this, if our BOCC can target the ice positions without affecting other critical needs of the jail I would be for it.

Police Chief Kerr Putney said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools should “wand” everyone who enters the district’s schools. Would you support such a program and provide county money to implement it?

I am not committed to this suggestion. I cant committ currently because there is a disagreement between our school board and our police chief on the best way to protect students. I am of the belief that our CMS board should be the leading experts on what is best for our children and several school board members have come out against this suggestion. However, it is our police cheif who has the experience in protecting large groups of people. I would be more in favor of the county paying for preventive measures in schools such as social workers, school pyschiatrist, and school nurses. Often times, with the right proactive resources in place someone who is a danger to themself or others can be prevented from harming themselves or others with simple connections. UNC Charlotte was able to prevent what could have been a mass shooting because of resources and a mental health expert assisting the police. CMS should have that same ability. Also, when you think of the logistics involved in this, it would require a heavier police presence at our schools, it slows entry into the schools therefore meaning our students would have to start their days even earlier than they already do. In addition, I would recommend a Mecklenburg Session on protecting our schools where CMS, BOCC, CMPD, and any city or town that wishes to partipate, come together to create a local unified decision on the best way to protect our students. Mecklenburg needs unification within our county to move us forward together and as the leader in our region as our metro becomes increasingly connected and we begin to think as a region.

Last year, the Opportunity Task Force released a report on improving economic mobility in Charlotte. What do you think the city or county could do to improve economic mobility that hasn’t been tried before?

There are several options that the county can do to help improve economic mobility for all residents. First, is the long-term investment in paying for voluntary universal pre-k. This pays off in 10-20 years, but with the increased educational preparedness that our children achieve later in life because of this investment, which crosses all race and economic backgrounds, makes it one of the single greatest opportunities that Mecklenburg County has. Secondly, and this is something that only I have mentioned, is increasing our partnership with our Library System and their essential program to add job connect centers in every location. This requires us to recognize the essential role that libraries do play, fully fund them, and close library deserts in Pineville-Ballantyne and Mallard Creek areas. These jobs connect programs would provide for educational and job training for our high school students, college students, and unemployed older adults who may have trouble adjusting to the ever evolving 21st Century economy. This would include resume training, skills training, and networking opportunities. I know the city has a program like this with the Goodwill Center but our libraries are already centrally located for most everyone in our community and could be direct closer to home extensions of this. Thirdly, our county needs to play a role in giving people a leg up by reducing housing cost. Yes, the city of Charlotte must lead on affordable housing, but that does mean our county cant step up and be a major partner. The only way we’d ever be able to catch up on the back log of housing needed is for there to be regional partnerships with city, county, state and our towns working together. Our county has the capital to do this either in cash or land. Finally, our county commission can do more to focus on small business incubation. Coming from a family of small business owners I know firsthand the impact this can have. On face value, when residents hear about various projects coming to Mecklenburg, they are led by our two largest towns, Charlotte and Huntersville, with our county not being as involved. Mecklenburg County has begun to change this under County Manager Deana Diorio however and has used “job hunting”, the practice of luring a manufacturing or company relocations to the area with incentives, as its primary mode of job creation. Mecklenburg County should also consider more of a “job growth” perspective. Small business owners that employee 10-30 people make of up the largest plurality of all jobs in the country. If Mecklenburg County provided incentives to these individuals, those with successful business models with proven staff in place, Mecklenburg County will enable itself to be the new entrepreneur hub for our region, and one of the largest in the country. For instance, 100 small business owners in Mecklenburg County creating 5 or 6 jobs, would have had a larger and longer impact than the failed Chiquita incentives and cost the county less upfront in expenditures. Not saying that the county should move away from luring large employers, but the cities in towns already do a fantastic job of that, so let’s push our county to lead on small business growth and be the unifier of economic growth which with combined with investments in public health, education, and job training will have long lasting effects on increasing economic mobility.

Tigress Sydney Acute McDaniel

No response.

Ray McKinnon (Democrat)

Education: Graduate of John Wesley University

Professional experience: Pastor of South Tryon Community United Methodist Church Charlotte NC

Previous public offices held: Commissioner at Charlotte Housing Authority, member of the Leading on Opportunity Council, Co-Founder and Vice President of New South Progressives, SouthEnd Board member, Democratic National Committeeman representing NC, and a member of North Carolina Democratic Party’s State Executive Council.

Family: I am married to Kelly and we’ve been married for thirteen years. We are the parents to five boys, a dog, and a cat. Our boys range in ages 9-28 (we adopted our oldest when he was 15). We live in the Sunset Oaks Community in Unincorporated Charlotte.

Website: https://mckinnonformeck.com/

Do you support the county’s participation in the 287(g) immigration program? If you do not, what if any action would you take to compel the Sheriff’s Office to withdraw from the program?

I do not support the county’s participation in the 287(g) immigration program. I will continue my conversations with the Sheriff in finding ways to end our participation in the voluntary 287(g) program. We need to have these conversations that lead us to building trust, safety and security in our county. Additionally, I will sponsor a resolution expressing the sense of the board relative to the 287(g) program.

Police Chief Kerr Putney said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools should “wand” everyone who enters the district’s schools. Would you support such a program and provide county money to implement it?

I would not support a wand program. I do support efforts to make our schools safe and secure. We must ensure the measures we’ve already implemented are being utilized first. We spent a considerable amount of money to ensure secure access to the schools and each school must use the system properly. If CMS requests more funding for security then the Board of Commissioners should fund that request.

Last year, the Opportunity Task Force released a report on improving economic mobility in Charlotte. What do you think the city or county could do to improve economic mobility that hasn’t been tried before?

The Opportunity Task Force released the findings of their studies and with it a set of recommendations. I am a member of the Council which formed as a result of the Task Force’s report. The most logical thing is to follow the recommendations as outlined in the report. The “Recommendations Matrix” offers fresh ideas and next steps which the county should use as a road map. The county should especially think specifically about how it uses its land relative to assisting in remedying the affordable housing crisis. The report, which the county funded, is filled with incredible recommendations; it is now time to follow those recommendations with implementation.

Ella Scarborough (Democrat)

No response.

Jeremy Brasch (Republican)

Age: 43

Education:UNCC-BS Business Administration concentration Finance, Georgia Southern-MBA, Charlotte School of Law- JD

Professional experience: Compass North America- manager Corporate Accounting Services Systems and Projects

Previous public offices held: Ran for County Commissioner at large last election

Family: Wife Natasha- daughters, Elizabeth, Isabella, Victoria, and Caroline

Website: www.facebook.com/braschforcharlotte

Do you support the county’s participation in the 287(g) immigration program? If you do not, what if any action would you take to compel the Sheriff’s Office to withdraw from the program?

I am very much against racial profiling. I believe racial profiling is unconstitutional. There has to be a balance between protecting the rights of our citizens and protecting our citizens. I have heard Sheriff Carmichael speak on the topic and it sounds like he strives toward a constitutional implementation of the program here in Mecklenburg County. I have also heard about counties that do not protect the constitutional rights of citizens. Here in Mecklenburg County I think overall we have room for improvement. I will advocate for more training to help our officers better recognize racial bias and provide better tools to combat racial bias.

Police Chief Kerr Putney said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools should “wand” everyone who enters the district’s schools. Would you support such a program and provide county money to implement it?

There has to be a balance between protecting the rights of our citizens and protecting our citizens. The wand has become far too common fixture in our everyday life. It is a visible sign of the erosion of a founding principle of the United States of America. The principle of a constitutional right of privacy. I would like to see us provide a safe environment for our students without the use of a wand.

Last year, the Opportunity Task Force released a report on improving economic mobility in Charlotte. What do you think the city or county could do to improve economic mobility that hasn’t been tried before?

Economic Mobility is a very important concern. To really create mobility for those least mobile you have to change their paradigm. We have done some of that and I think it will help. I support the head start program. Education is key. But starting early is only a small piece of the puzzle. We need to change the outcome of the story. The question is how do we effect that next step, the step a young person takes after the 12th grade and, how do we do that with policy and funding? To answer the policy piece we need to look at how we evaluate our high schools. People will work toward the metrics. Our metrics are based in a large part on the Bush era “No Child Left Behind” policy, which focuses on high school graduation rates. Currently our metrics appear to be graduation focused. Yes we want the highest possible graduation rate but really we want more. We want mobility, in today’s economy education after high school is key to higher incomes and greater mobility. I will advocate that our metrics be geared towards post high school education. I will advocate that the increased pay we as a county should provide our teachers is tied to how many students move on to post high school education. That will shift the focus of our teachers and administrators. I think we need to do more to shift the focus of our students. I will advocate for a partial scholarship for graduating Mecklenburg County High School students. The amount of this scholarship is to be determined. Our funds are finite and have to be spent with care but this would truly be an investment in our students. I believe it would also go a long way to shift the paradigm for many students. College these days is very expensive and the questions of how much will this cost and how do pay it are valid questions. The scholarship amount should be based on the cost of tuition at CPCC for two years. Currently that cost is around $2,500 a year. To carve that out of our current county budget per graduate is not possible. To raise that amount of capital per graduate I will suggest, first a discounted rate from CPCC due the increase volume the program will generate over time, next a small portion would be expected to be paid by the student, third we would seek corporate sponsors and, last would be a bond issue. My hope is that many students will opt into the CPCC scholarship program and complete the two year transfer program to a NC school. This would cut the cost of a 4 year degree in half, it would provide a paradigm shift for students who think college is out of their reach due to costs, it would benefit upward mobility in the community and be a sold investment in the future of Mecklenburg County.

Board of Commissioners District 2

Angela Edwards (Democrat)

Age: 56

Education: Ged

Professional experience: Nursing assistance

Previous public offices held: Pto President

Family: 6 children 3 grand children

Website: N/a

Do you support the county’s participation in the 287(g) immigration program? If you do not, what if any action would you take to compel the Sheriff’s Office to withdraw from the program?

Rather not comment on that

Police Chief Kerr Putney said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools should “wand” everyone who enters the district’s schools. Would you support such a program and provide county money to implement it?

No

Last year, the Opportunity Task Force released a report on improving economic mobility in Charlotte. What do you think the city or county could do to improve economic mobility that hasn’t been tried before?

Increasing mental health education increasing affordable housing program.

Vilma Leake (Democrat)

No response.

Board of Commissioners District 3

Angela Ambroise (Democrat)

Age: 42

Education: Studied at FTCC& CPCC and NYREI and Mingle School of Real Estate.

Professional experience: I have been a real estate professional for over 16 and held a license for over 14 years. This experience has given me a wide perspective over a number of issues that affect the county and District 3. I have been an advocate for affordable housing, volunteering my time once per week to assist people with an array of housing related issues. This experience coupled with my understanding of housing valuation in relation to setting the tax rate gives me a unique perspective and will add value to BOCC if elected. In addition to my work in affordable housing, I have also been a community champion for high SES school and played a significate role in Villa Heights Elementary School to ensure the school re-opened to service our neighborhood children. I am an active participant on the Bond oversite committee where I am learning how the county and the CMS board of education interrelate for the benefit of our children. I was a very big advocate for the last bond request and I have continued to be an advocate. As a minority small business owner, every home that I sell-my client has the option to donate to either the local school or neighborhood association. This is just one of the ways I give back.

Previous public offices held: I have never held an elected public office. But I have been elected and appointed to serve on community boards and different organizations. I also am a twelve year resident of district three.

Family: I have been married for ten years and we have two young children. My daughter is seven and my son is six years old.

Website: www.vote4angelaambroise con

Do you support the county’s participation in the 287(g) immigration program? If you do not, what if any action would you take to compel the Sheriff’s Office to withdraw from the program?

No.Ultimately I would encourage the public to vote wisely for our next Sheriff! In addition I would push to use a muncipal ID instead of the 287G program.

Police Chief Kerr Putney said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools should “wand” everyone who enters the district’s schools. Would you support such a program and provide county money to implement it?

Yes, we have to protect our children no matter the cost. However, I would like to explore other alternatives and mechanisms that could be utilized to keep our children safe and secure.

Last year, the Opportunity Task Force released a report on improving economic mobility in Charlotte. What do you think the city or county could do to improve economic mobility that hasn’t been tried before?

We need a heightened focus on the social conditions of the poor, security for those in the middle and opportunity for us all. We also need to look at developing partnerships with technology companies, that can directly impact our workforce and improve mobility.

George Giovanni Dortche (Democrat)

Age:33

Education: Paralegal Degree from CPCC

Professional experience: Serves on the Charlotte Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee Chairman of Community Relations Committee for Black Business Owners of Charlotte Small Business Owner

Previous public offices held: None

Family: My Aunts Grandmother is Vashti Turley Murphy a co-founder of Delta Sigma Theta Inc. Sorority Charles Perkins my grandfather of Buffalo,NY was a Legendary Community Advocate. The city of Buffalo, NY named a street and neighborhood park after him. Community service has been in my families DNA for atleast 100yrs. I’ve shadowed,watched and have been raised to become a community leader. My time is now!!

Website: www.vote4giovanni.wixsite.com

Do you support the county’s participation in the 287(g) immigration program? If you do not, what if any action would you take to compel the Sheriff’s Office to withdraw from the program?

I oppose 287g. I would defund funds allocated to Sheriffs Office in order to compel the Sheriffs Office to withdraw from the program.

Police Chief Kerr Putney said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools should “wand” everyone who enters the district’s schools. Would you support such a program and provide county money to implement it?

Yes. The safety and security of our students should be at the forefront of County and CMS policies…

Last year, the Opportunity Task Force released a report on improving economic mobility in Charlotte. What do you think the city or county could do to improve economic mobility that hasn’t been tried before?

I have proposed 3E in order to help improve economic mobility. EDUCATION, ENTREPRENUERSHIP, EXPANSION. With Education we must bring back Universal Pre-k. Studies show children have a better start to life with Universal Pre-k. I want to invest on the front side of our children’s life versus investing in welfare and jailcare on the backside of our children’s lives. We must also educate our residents better where and how to find resources when residents need them. Maybe a hotline could solve this issue. Entrepreneurship. If a person is not able to find a job they must next create one. The County needs to have stronger Entrepreneur training programs and make it easier for residents to create their own jobs. Which will contribute to the economy of Mecklenburg County. Expansion. We must expand and widen our job training programs across more industries. As jobs change and the times change our job training programs need to change as well. We have to be more innovative and stay ahead of the curve with our high tech and vocational job training programs.

George Dunlap (Democrat)

Age: 61

Education: M. S., Public Administration, University of North Carolina Charlotte (2003) Fellow, NC Institute of Political Leadership (1992) B. S., Criminal Justice, University of North Carolina Charlotte (1991) A. A., Correctional Science, Central Piedmont Community College (1983) A. A., Law Enforcement, Central Piedmont Community College (1979) Advanced Leadership Graduate of the NC Leadership Academy (2015)

Professional experience: Private First Class, Lance Corporal, & Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps (1974-1976) Counselor, National Conference of Christian & Jews (NCCJ), now National Council of Community & Justice (NCCJ) (1976-1978) School Resource & DARE Officer, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (1978-2005), Retired Acting Executive Director, Police Athletic League (2005-2006)

Previous public offices held: Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners (2008 – present) Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education (1995-2008)

Family: Son, Damion Dunlap Ph.D., his wife Tracy, and their five children: Josiah (11), Gabriel (9), Joy (7) Daniel (5), & Grace (2) Panama City Beach, FL

Website: www.vote4dunlap.com

Do you support the county’s participation in the 287(g) immigration program? If you do not, what if any action would you take to compel the Sheriff’s Office to withdraw from the program?

No I would consider reducing funding for the 287g program if county dollars are being used to fund it. At one of our last County Commission meeting, I asked the county manager to review all the feedback we have been hearing from both sides of the issue and to present the facts to the Commission. There is lack of clarity around who funds the program, whether or not the contract is with the BOCC or solely with the Sheriff, among other concerns. Until we have answers to these questions, it will be difficult to confirm the most appropriate and effective actions the County Commission can and should take.

Police Chief Kerr Putney said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools should “wand” everyone who enters the district’s schools. Would you support such a program and provide county money to implement it?

Community safety is a of the utmost major concerns for our entire community and is one of my top priorities as a commissioner. I do agree that security at our schools needs to be greatly improved and as a commissioner and former school board member, I would be willing to provide county money to implement such a program, based on supporting evidence that this is an effective and efficient way to substantially improve school safety.

Last year, the Opportunity Task Force released a report on improving economic mobility in Charlotte. What do you think the city or county could do to improve economic mobility that hasn’t been tried before?

Since the County Commission commissioned the Task Force, we began taking steps to address some of the findings presented in the report. More specifically, we are funding more early childhood education so the waiting list for a pre k education could be eliminated. I, personally, lobbied State legislators to increase funding for early childhood education in the state’s 2018 budget. Although CMS, previously, provided pre-k education, e.g., Bright Beginnings, in many of its schools, our community heretofore has not exercised the will to guarantee that every child in Mecklenburg County, who needs it, can get it. Universal pre-k education or school readiness has been identified as a prerequisite to school success for children across all demographics. When students experience school success from pre-school through secondary education, they are more likely to experience success in higher education and/or meaningful work. This continuum of education is the gateway to economic mobility. Fully funding early childhood education has never been tried before. Let’s do it!

Board of Commissioners (District 4)

Leigh Altman

Age: 45

Education: Florida State University College of Law, with honors, J.D., 1997 New College of Florida, B.A. 1994

Professional experience: I worked as a public interest attorney for 17 years and stepped down three years ago to be full-time stay at home with my three children.

Previous public offices held: None

Family: I am a wife and mother to three boys who attend a CMS elementary, middle, and high school.

Website: leighaltman.com

Do you support the county’s participation in the 287(g) immigration program? If you do not, what if any action would you take to compel the Sheriff’s Office to withdraw from the program?

No. My grandparents were immigrants, and I believe our wonderfully diverse immigrant population has always been the source of our nation’s strength, vitality, and dynamism. Our immigrant community should not live in fear. Children should not be afraid of their parents being snatched away. Women should not be afraid to seek legal protection from domestic violence because they are scared to interact with law enforcement. We know this program makes our community less safe because the police cannot build community relationships necessary to do their jobs effectively. I will fight for the well being of children and families by working to end Charlotte’s participation in the 287g program.

Police Chief Kerr Putney said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools should “wand” everyone who enters the district’s schools. Would you support such a program and provide county money to implement it?

No. When the Sandy Hook massacre happened, I had a 4th grader and a 1st grader in CMS. It has been five years of daily worry since then, and we still don’t have progress on ensuring the safety of my children or yours in schools. This is an American crisis, which no other developed nation experiences, caused by our uniquely lax gun laws. Wanding is a band-aid on the problem, not a solution, and an ineffective one. The solution is to change our gun laws. We need sensible gun control to protect our students without affecting their learning environment. Achieving sensible gun control starts with changing our legislative policy makers.

Last year, the Opportunity Task Force released a report on improving economic mobility in Charlotte. What do you think the city or county could do to improve economic mobility that hasn’t been tried before?

More robust commitments to education, training our workforce, promoting a healthy population, and creating accessible neighborhoods are both the right thing to do and the lynchpin of a strong economy. We can’t do that if our elected officials aren’t working together. For too long, many of our local leaders have treated each other with hostility and failed to collaborate for the common good. I have already sat down with School Board members and City Council members to begin the work of building new relationships so we can work closely for the good of this community. Maybe that’s the mother in me who knows that sitting down for a cup of coffee together can make a difference in reaching common ground. We can improve economic mobility by investing in our children at every stage of their lives, and that starts with providing affordable access to early childhood education. We need to make sure that our county is training and connecting people who are ready to work with available jobs by having mentorships, apprenticeships, and training programs in place to meet the labor demands in Mecklenburg County. We must develop sustainable solutions for connecting our residents with choices to get to good schools and good paying jobs which means creating connectivity and walkability in and between our neighborhoods and commerce centers and promoting and expanding mass transit options. We need greater cooperation and more serious commitment across local government to fully implement these goals and start to close the opportunity gap.

Mark Jerrell

Age: 47

Education: B.A. (Political Science) & M.B.A.

Professional experience: Professionally, I have extensive experience working in complex organizations and leading large teams as an Operations Manger. My primary responsibilities have been to proactively identify process gaps, address issues, coordinate key stakeholders, establish objectives and meet organizational goals. Currently, I serve as Vice President of Operations for our family owned Speech Therapy company, where we provide speech therapy to children and families. We currently operate 3 locations and serve in 21 counties across the state. My primary responsibilities include running the day to day operations of the business, compliance adherence, service delivery, budget review, customer service and community relations. The skills acquired in my current and previous roles, coupled with my education will allow me to bring a level of accountability and new thought process related to problem-solving to public service, as well as, successfully bridge the gap between identifying critical community issues and the implementation of effective solutions.

Previous public offices held: N/A

Family: Married (2 Daughters) – Wife (Whitney), Sarai (7) & Malani (3)

Website: www.mark4thepeople.com

Do you support the county’s participation in the 287(g) immigration program? If you do not, what if any action would you take to compel the Sheriff’s Office to withdraw from the program?

I do not support the county’s participation in the 287(g) immigrant program. I believe this program is legalized profiling and it has an adverse economic and social impact on our community. The withdrawal from the program will take a multi-faceted approach. First, we must have a clear understanding of our legal options by looking at the contract and determining all options. Second, we must have a thorough and independent review of the data in an effort to make a determination of the impact this program has had on the community. Finally, we must be transparent with the community and allow their voices to be heard. As an elected official, our job is to do what is best for the people and execute the will of the people. The data I have reviewed clearly demonstrates that this program is not beneficial for our community.

Police Chief Kerr Putney said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools should “wand” everyone who enters the district’s schools. Would you support such a program and provide county money to implement it?

The safety of our children and educators must be a top priority and it is imperative that we take proactive measures to ensure we are adequately addressing school safety. The role of the county is to address community priorities, provide support and ensure resources are available, particularly as it relates to education, which includes providing a safe environment. We must be committed to ensuring that these priorities are reflected in our budget. I am also a proponent of taking a comprehensive approach to addressing the issue and believe the “wand” is one measure that should be funded, as well as, additional safety measures to include (but not limited to), the review all safety/emergency plans, adding resources as it relates to support functions such as, psychologists, resource officers, nurses and counselors. If we do not proactively address issues and provide the resources needed, we will inevitably encounter a tragic situation that is plaguing other communities across the country.

Last year, the Opportunity Task Force released a report on improving economic mobility in Charlotte. What do you think the city or county could do to improve economic mobility that hasn’t been tried before?

Our community ranked 50th out of 50 major cities as it relates to economic mobility. This ranking highlights the urgent need to implement the recommendations made by the Opportunity Task Force. As a community, our budgetary priorities must reflect our commitment to removing the institutional structures/barriers that create inequity among our most vulnerable populations and breaking the cycle of poverty, which severely impacts the poor and communities of color. Our priorities must also reflect a commitment to maintain a focus on issues of poverty, quality education and access to resources. I will continue to be a vocal advocate for the implementation of the recommendations made by the Opportunity Task Force, which will allow us to reverse course on the current re-segregation efforts in our schools and ensuring that we leverage education as the great equalizer for our most vulnerable citizens. The task force concluded that education is the primary component that will break the cycle of poverty and expand economic opportunity. These areas are clearly having an adverse economic and social impact on our community and pose a major threat to our future.

Queen Thompson (Democrat)

Age: 71

Education:B.A. Degree – Sociology/Psychology/History –Johnson C. Smith University M.S. Ed. Counseling Psychology–Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, II University of Delaware, Oklahoma and North Carolina

Professional experience: 50 years of social work and counseling experience in the following human service organizations: Dept. of Social Services, Mental Health, Hospital Social Work Director, Vocational Rehabilitation, Bureau f/t Visually Impaired, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, Battered Women’s Shelter, and Texas Department of Mental Health -Drug Treatment Center. Founder of POWER, parents and organizations for exceptional residents; Grant writer, Founder of Tumbleweed, a sheltered workshop for multi-handicapped adults; Founder and grant writer for ACMI House, a shelter for battered women, Founder grant writer for Crossroads Charter School. Recipient of numerous awards. Churchman of the Year, Altus, OK., Ben Craig Outstanding Educator, Order of the Long Leaf Pine and recognition from Governor James Martin.

Previous public offices held: None to date

Family: Married 49 years to Melvin Thompson, U.S. Air Force Retired. We have two adult daughters. Our entire household are graduates of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

Website: Queen4Charlotte.com

Do you support the county’s participation in the 287(g) immigration program? If you do not, what if any action would you take to compel the Sheriff’s Office to withdraw from the program?

I have mixed feelings about the issues. I feel sorry for those persons, who are law bidding citizens and have been unduly delayed in getting their immigration papers. On the other hand, we need some type of control as to who is coming into the country.

Police Chief Kerr Putney said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools should “wand” everyone who enters the district’s schools. Would you support such a program and provide county money to implement it?

I have no strong objections to “wand” everyone who comes into the building. I hate that our public schools to have to resort to such procedures. I hope for a day that children can concentrate on enjoying their childhood and simply growing up. Growing up is one of the hardest jobs on earth.

Last year, the Opportunity Task Force released a report on improving economic mobility in Charlotte. What do you think the city or county could do to improve economic mobility that hasn’t been tried before?

It is absolutely necessary that we have quality public schools that produce an qualified workforce. Economic mobility is entangled into a competitive public school system, intensive workforce development programs that drive a strong business community to our area.

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Casey Harper