Patrick Cannon says he's still pinching himself after realizing a life-long dream of becoming mayor of Charlotte. He held his first press conference as mayor-elect in front of the new Romare Bearden Park in uptown to highlight his goals when he takes office in December.
Mayor-elect Patrick Cannon chose the location because of all the activity around Romare Bearden park. There's a new minor-league ballpark under construction and cranes are overhead for a new high-rise apartment complex being built.
He says it's symbolic of where he sees Charlotte headed.
"We're surrounded by real progress," Cannon says. "If you can just listen to what's going on in the way of the hammers and the waterfalls here and the green space. This is real progress we're talking about. An economic development success story and community asset that only comes from long-term planning."
He said his first priority is bringing more jobs to the city, which had an unemployment rate of more than eight percent in August.
"The unemployment rate being what it is as high as it is, job creation is my number one focus," he says. "In addition to corporate relocation, I want to create more blue-collar jobs, with a focus on manufacturing, health care and retail."
He says he wants to make Charlotte more business friendly by speeding up the zoning and permitting process. Remember, Charlotte has a system of government where the mayor is weak. So he's been speaking to city manager Ron Carlee and interim county manager Bobbie Shields on ways to streamline the process for developers.
Cannon was elusive on the possibility of future tax increases, saying he won't rule out property or sales tax increases during his tenure. He says he will wait until Mecklenburg County finishes redoing the 2011 property tax revaluation before commenting.
And finally, he says, tensions with state lawmakers and county officials will be a thing of the past. He says Charlotteans can look forward to a drama-free City Council. We'll have to wait and see on that.