Charlotte Mayor's Race: Endorsement Roundup...now you decide

Charlotte's second primary is coming to a close and voters will decide tomorrow which Democrat will face Republican Edwin Peacock in November's general election. Roberts is still being called the front runner, but most media sources are not singing her praises. More importantly, former mayoral candidate David Howard and respected LGBT activist and journalist Matt Comer have endorsed Dan Clodfelter.

Here's a roundup of endorsements from individuals, local media, and activists for the mayor's race in Charlotte. If you are undecided, maybe this information will help you make a final decision.

Most BlueNC readers know that the only endorsements that matter come on Election Day.

City Councilman & former mayoral candidate David Howard

David Howard surprised only those who do not know him well when he endorsed former opponent Dan Clodfelter for mayor. The following is his full statement.

Good afternoon,

To be honest, after the very hard-fought primary election, my full intent was to go home and to sit on my couch for awhile…..and to sit out the run-off. However after getting numerous calls from supporters asking for my recommendation, the leader in me knew that my task in this race was not yet done. Now, of course, I wish this was happening vice versa, but the citizens spoke…..at least all but 643 voters that I’m still looking for….just joking. So today I stand ready to move forward.

Over the past week, my wife Mary and I met with both Jennifer and Dan. We had very direct and honest conversations with them both. We addressed our difference and issues from the campaign trail and how we could work together moving forward. We all discussed a wide range of issues including my platform and how their visions for Charlotte’s future aligned with it. As someone who was born and raised on Charlotte’s Westside, I understand the importance of opportunities spreading to every corner of our city. I truly believe that no matter what neighborhood you grew up in, the school you attended or what street you live on….if you want to contribute to this community, you should be afforded that opportunity. I also believe that in order to position Charlotte to be competitive now and far into the future, we have to have intentional and progressive leadership.

That is why after much prayer, conversation and thoughtful evaluation of both candidates and their platforms, I have decided to endorse Mayor Clodfelter in the Democratic primary runoff scheduled for next Tuesday. I've seen both candidates up close and I know that he has real, achievable plans to bring jobs and opportunities to every part of our city. His knowledge and ideas more closely aligned with my vision for turning our colleges and universities into research and development facilities and my belief that we need a world-class transportation system to become a truly international city. We also have to be a community that re-examines our commitment to being a city that embraces inclusion, and at the heart of the conversation is how we educate, prepare and expose our children to an ever-changing and diverse world. That commitment to inclusion has been our secret sauce for decades.

Dan has the experience to lead Charlotte and I stand here today to give him my support and ask all those who supported me to do the same.

Your Friend,
David L. Howard

Matt Comer

Matt Comer is the long-time editor of the LGBT paper of record, QNotes. Now, the former editor, Comer writes about LGBT political issues for Creative Loafing. He offered his personal endorsement for Charlotte mayor prior to the first endorsement. His choice is Dan Clodfelter. saying that Clodfelter, "cannot be criticized for his astounding character and integrity, among them his authenticity, trustworthiness and loyalty."

Comer offers a strong argument against voting for Jennifer Roberts.

As a person, I admire Roberts’ tenacity and willingness to engage with communities. However, her tenacity has often across, at least to me, as desperate seat-shopping, too eager to jump from one race to another and almost practically begging to be appointed mayor when Patrick Cannon resigned. Her willingness to engage with communities often comes across as inauthentic lip service — especially when you consider that willingness to be an extremely outspoken advocate of fair and equal inclusion hasn’t always matched her campaign style.

In particular, there are two moments and issues that stick out in my mind — her not-natural timidity in the face of her 2012 congressional campaign and her near-silence on Amendment One, along with her vote in favor of the harmful 287(g) program which unfairly targeted far too many immigrant people.

Sarah Stevenson endorses Jennifer Roberts

Martha Alexander, Betty Chafin-Rash, Dianne Chipps-Bailey, Cabell Clay, Susan Green, Mary Howard, Sis Kaplan, Molly Griffin, Valecia McDowell, Mary Milan, Cyndee Patterson, Sally Robinson, Ella Scarborough, Claire Tate, Krista Tillman, Katie Tyler endorse Dan Clodfelter

Dan has always made issues concerning women and families his top priority. As a State Senator, he helped craft budgets to fund shelters and domestic violence prevention programs, raised teacher pay ten times, and focused on meeting the needs of the most vulnerable citizens in our community. Dan has always championed equality, fighting all forms of discrimination.

Charlotte Observer Endorsement for Dan Clodfelter

The Charlotte Observer released its endorsement for the second primary and its choice is overwhelmingly Dan Clodfelter even going so far as to say that Republican Edwin Peacock has a better chance against Jennifer Roberts. All of the Observer editorial staff appear to have a hard time coming up with anything truly positive to say about Jennifer Roberts that they don't follow up immediately with negative comments.

About Clodfelter:

As he has demonstrated repeatedly and most recently at this week’s debate, Clodfelter has a superior depth of understanding about the wide array of issues the city faces. He has the background to know the challenges, the inquisitiveness to learn more about them and the brains and vision to articulate the best path forward.

:::snip:::

Clodfelter maintains relationships with the legislators he worked alongside for so long, a valuable thing in an era when the General Assembly seems to have it in for North Carolina’s large cities. In recent days and weeks, Clodfelter has helped push back against a sales-tax redistribution and against a bill gutting local ordinances. Neither became law.

About Roberts:

Roberts has been an energetic, dedicated public servant as a county commissioner and in other community roles. She is intelligent and hard-working, and has a sincere desire to give back to Charlotte.

She has, though, been notably unspecific about policy issues and her vision for Charlotte in this campaign. And as chair of the county commissioners, she hesitated to be a forceful leader, overseeing a botched revaluation and numerous other failures at the county.

QCity Metro
Glenn H. Burkins, editor and publisher of QCityMetro.com, wondered whether Jennifer Roberts could be stopped and offered the following to explain her popularity:

At some point between 2000 and 2010, Charlotte’s Caucasian population dipped south of 50 percent, meaning that blacks and Latinos gained a much stronger voice in citywide elections. And given that the white vote is typically diluted between Republicans and Democrats, I would argue that the city’s African American population now constitutes a must-have block for mayoral candidates.That was the point of my '09 column.

Roberts seems to understand and exploit this demographic shift far better than most, and by regularly making herself visible at key events in the black community, she has managed to build a high degree of name recognition, and perhaps even trust, among black voters who, despite accusations to the contrary, frequently look beyond race when pulling a lever for political candidates.

Charlotte Post

Prior to the first primary, the Charlotte Post endorsed David Howard for Mayor.

It does not appear they are endorsing in the second primary, however, the Charlotte Post is currently running a poll and its readers are trending for Jennifer Roberts 53% to 47% for Clodfelter.

MeckPAC (LGBT political action committee) endorses Dan Clodfelter

Mayor Dan Clodfelter has a long record of support for the LGBT community dating back to his role on city council in the early 90s. Mayor Clodfelter was an early advocate for a non-discrimination ordinance at a time when the issue was much less popular. Yet, he was unwavering in his support of our community at a time filled mostly with hate.

When Mayor Clodfelter was elected to the North Carolina Senate, he continued his work for the advancement and support of the LGBT community. It was through his committee chairmanships that he was able to keep the pre-cursors to Amendment 1 at bay for many years by not letting these bills out of committee. Mayor Clodfelter is the reason North Carolina was the last Southern state to have such an amendment.

Mayor Clodfelter was also a driver behind the passing of the NC School Violence Prevention Act protecting the youngest in our LGBT community. This law was the first time sexual orientation and gender identity were included as protected classes in North Carolina law, and the first time gender identity was protected in any Southern state.

Throughout our campaign to pass the current slate of non-discrimination ordinances, he was on-board and supportive. While the hate we experienced the night of the vote was terrible, Mayor Clodfelter’s leadership helped manage an orderly airing of opinions.

As Mayor Clodfelter pointed out in March, “he was for Non-Discrimination 23 years ago and his position had not changed.”

It is for these reasons and his long time demonstrated support for the LGBT community that we feel that Dan Clodfelter is the better choice for Mayor and will work best with a new city council to pass a fully inclusive non-discrimination ordinance.

Emily's List endorses Jennifer Roberts

Charlotte Observer editors grade Roberts & Clodfelter debate performance

Charlotte Observer editors graded both Roberts and Clodfelter after a recent debate performance. All three said that Clodfelter won the debate, even if his responses were underwhelming at times.

Taylor Batten, CharO editorial page editor

Batten’s grades: Dan Clodfelter; A-; Jennifer Roberts: B-

On Clodfelter:

As a City Council member, state senator and mayor, Clodfelter has always enjoyed digging into the nitty gritty of public policy. The ribbon-cutting part of the job has come less naturally for him. At this morning’s debate, he showed that he has a firm grasp on public policy questions, ranging from the complications of funding mass transit to whether a stoplight should be placed at a particular intersection in north Charlotte.

On Roberts:

She also fulfilled the stereotype she has earned over the years by being perfectly pleasant, offering uplifting notions about the city’s future, and delivering answers that just scratched the surface.

On stage, she was adequate but not much more. She knows the issues the city faces and can talk about them at some length, if not depth. She didn’t botch any question, but she didn’t knock one out of the park either.

Eric Frazier, CharO associate editor

Frazier’s grades: Dan Clodfelter; B; Jennifer Roberts: C

On Clodfelter and Roberts:

If her game plan was to get through it without ever engaging him in a clear contrast on style or substance, she succeeded. Perhaps, given her frontrunner status, that’s the correct political play.

But given the fact that Clodfelter is far better versed on issues facing the city – not surprising given his time in the mayor’s office and the legislature – it felt like she needed to confront him more directly to avoid looking like the weaker of the two candidates.

She didn’t do that. And the contrast between them was pretty stark.

Peter St. Onge, CharO associate editor

St. Onge’s grades: Jennifer Roberts: B; Dan Clodfelter: B-plus

On Roberts:

She was at her best on a question about open spaces and parks, where she confidently blended her achievements on the county commission involving Romare Bearden Park with a smart answer on greenways being “linear parks.”

Still, her answers were too often superficial. We know that “public/private partnerships” are a good approach to some funding issues. But as an answer to a toll road question, it exposed a shallowness in policy knowledge that hurt Roberts.

On Clodfelter:

Clodfelter had the incumbent’s advantage in the debate – he knew more about specific city initiatives and policies. He also was helped by a series of late audience questions on narrow, personal issues, such as a neighborhood stop light. Those allowed him to sound very much like a mayor, and Roberts was nowhere to be heard.

Still, Clodfelter also sounded a little snippy and impatient with questions, and radio listeners didn’t have the benefit to seeing if a smile softened some clipped responses.

Tags: