Saturday, October 10, 2015

Get ready to vote for Charlotte mayor, city council and school board elections on Nov. 3

Charlotte has an election for mayor, city council, and school board on Nov. 3, with early voting beginning Oct. 22.

Turnout in small local elections is usually abysmal, but these elections often have direct impact on our daily lives because they influence schools, noise ordinances, local property taxes, and transportation options like the Central Avenue trolley. And a ballot isn't like homework - you can show up and vote for only one or two offices if you're not confident of the names in all the races, or you can privately ask me or another neighbor for their opinions. 

Merry Oaks neighborhood residents are choosing eight people total out of 19 running for office (not including our incumbent district rep, Patsy Kinsey). That's a lot of research for voters to do, but some organizations endorse slates of candidates, and you can keep an eye on media sources to hear more.
Updates 10/24: On your ballot is a question about whether county commissioners should serve four-year terms instead of their current two-year terms. The Charlotte Observer gives the background here:

New residents of Charlotte or people who moved recently CAN still register to vote AND vote on the same day at early voting sites, starting Oct. 22. Locations include sites at CPCC, Sugar Creek Library, and the main library uptown. If you're a new voter in Charlotte, you'll need ID and proof of your residency - a gas bill, pay stub, or other document showing your address. Details from the N.C. Board of Elections:

You can also vote with an absentee ballot by mail, in case you're out of town or unsure whether you can get to the polls on Nov. 3. The form to request a ballot by mail is here:

The polling spot on Election Day is at Merry Oaks Elementary School, and you might need to buzz in at the front door, but it's always a treat to walk through the school and check out kids' work on bulletin boards.
The N.C. Justice Center has a great site that answers registration questions simply. Here's a link:

Who are the candidates?
Charlotte mayor:Ed Peacock (R) and Jennifer Roberts (D). Both have sites on the web, on Facebook, and on Twitter. Links: and
Charlotte city council:
At-large: From a group of eight people, you get to vote for four people. You can vote for less than that number if you like.
Democratic candidates are Julie Eiselt, Claire Green Fallon (incumbent), Vi Lyles (incumbent), and James (Smuggie) Mitchell. Q&As with them before the primary from The Charlotte Observer are at these links: 
Republican candidates are Pablo Carvajal, John K. Powell Jr. and David Michael Rice. Links to their websites are here: (I've yet to find Q&A links at the Observer to them, but keep an eye on this Observer link:  ) I'll come back to the Observer as a research tool later.
City Council District 1: Patsy Kinsey, the incumbent representing the Merry Oaks area, has no opposition. She's on the ballot and you can vote for her, but the seat essentially appears settled because she has no opposition. Update 10/24: There's now a write-in campaign for Billy Maddalon, owner of the Van Landingham Estate, which was turned down in a rezoning request from building a neighborhood private pool. Facebook page here:
Board of Education - at-large:
You get to vote for three people out of these nine people for this nonpartisan part of the election. Incumbents are Ericka Ellis-Stewart and Mary T. McCray.
This Board of Elections site lists candidates and their websites:
Observer Q&As with the candidates are at these links:
Angela Ambroise:
Janeen Bryant:
Larry Bumgarner:
Ericka Ellis-Stewart:
Levester Flowers:
Jeremy Stephenson:
Amelia Stinson-Wesley:

On researching the candidates: I highly recommend taking the time and possibly money to read the candidates' answers to journalists' questions at The Observer's site. Instead of just political talking points, you're getting the assistance of journalists in hearing answers to broad community issues. You might hit a paywall, and some people use different browsers, incognito windows or private browsing to get around that paywall, or you can pay 99 cents for a trial subscription, though that sets you up for automatic renewal at $9.99/month or $99/year. You can also try to get around the paywall by clicking on links from social media, from the candidates or from people you know.

Offices on the ballot:

Mecklenburg Board of Elections info:

Simple Q&A on how to vote:

Problems? You can call the N.C. Justice Center at 1-888-OUR-VOTE or 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

(By Andria Krewson. A short version of this post appeared in the Merry Oaks neighborhood newsletter.)

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