Lassiter faces Foxx in the race for Charlotte
1:00 pm
Wed September 16, 2009

Lassiter faces Foxx in the race for Charlotte mayor; Five incumbents win city council seats

After yesterday's primary Charlotte has just two candidates, both city councilman, running for mayor. Republican John Lassiter will face Democrat Anthony Foxx in the general election come November. Last night, Lassiter got 79 percent of the vote, defeating council's constant critic Martin Davis. Foxx did not have a Democratic challenger in the primary.

WFAE's Lisa Miller covered the primaries yesterday. She talks about the results with Morning Edition host Scott Graf.
GRAF: So it's not a surprise that Lassiter won yesterday. How will the dynamics of that campaign now change?

MILLER: Now that the primary is over, both Lassiter and Foxx say they see their campaigns sharpening. So the intensity is likely to go up. Up to this point, both candidates have hit on some of the same issues - creating jobs, boosting public safety, building public transit. And at times they sound pretty similar. Although Foxx has said some of those similarities have been overblown. And he points to something that may be a bit difficult for people to grab onto as one of the biggest differences between him and Lassiter.

FOXX: "I see where government can help and I see where people in the community have to step up and help themselves. And I think having the confidence of the public that you're drawing that line in the right place is very important. And I think in this community people realize we need a different type of leader."

MILLER: Lassiter too says leadership, their approaches to problems, are a big difference. His take is that sometimes government is a partner to make things happen, but sometimes it just needs to get out of the way.

LASSITER: "There's an opportunity if you let people take responsibility for their lives and keep the pressure of regulations, the pressure of taxes, and let them find a way to grow their business and create jobs, keep their streets safe, do the kinds of things that all of want for our families and businesses. That's the kind of leadership I think Charlotte is looking for."

MILLER: The candidates say over the next month and a half they'll be explaining what their different approaches will mean to Charlotte. A council vote just this week highlighted one difference of opinion. Foxx was part of the Democratic majority on council that voted to override the Mayor's veto of a $4.5 million study of the streetcar project. Foxx says we need to go ahead with that and be prepared if there's the possibility of getting some federal funding. Lassiter says why pay for a study when the city doesn't know how it'll pay for the actual project.

GRAF: Moneywise, how do things shape up for these two?

MILLER: Money is a big factor and both have raised a fair amount. Foxx has received about $310,000 in contributions and Lassiter has raised about $375,000. The difference is Foxx has spent most of his money. As of last week he has about $85,000 on hand, while Lassiter had about $224,000. But they both have plenty of fundraisers planned, so those numbers will go up.

GRAF: Switching gears here now to the city council race this fall, there are eleven city council seats up for grabs, but after last night we already know who five of the winners are. Tell us about them.

MILLER: Those five winners are all incumbents, all district seats, all Democrats without any Republican opposition in November. City council members representing two districts in northeast and west Charlotte ran completely unopposed. That's Michael Barnes and Warren Turner. Two other races in districts that include the east and central portions of Charlotte were expected to be close. Two energetic challengers took on incumbents Patsy Kinsey and Nancy Carter. But Kinsey and Carter ended up with a substantial lead in the end last night.

Voters also determined who the four Republican and Democratic city council at-large candidates will be. On the Republican side the candidates are incumbent Edwin Peacock, a tea party organizer Matthew Ridenhour, Wells Fargo risk manager Tariq Bokhari and business owner Jaye Rao. On the Democratic side mayor pro-tem Susan Burgess, former council member Patrick Cannon, non-profit housing executive David Howard and insurance agent Darrin Rankin came out ahead.

GRAF: Now something we should mention this morning too, school board elections, but they're not part of the primary since they're non-partisan. How do we see those races shaping up this?

There are three long-time school board members that are leaving this year. And there are a total of six school board seats up for grab. So November's election will definitely change the make-up of the board.

One of the most contentious debates this year has been over deciding which students go to the new Mint Hill High School. The board decided to spread out poverty levels between schools. What that means is kids in Mint Hill will be going to Independence high school. That angered a lot of people who say they'll use this election to oust those board members who voted for the plan. That issue is going to come up again soon either for this current board or a new one that looks at re-drawing boundaries for Myers Park and East Meck high school.

GRAF: Lisa, thank you very much.

Miller: Thanks, Scott.

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