• CMPD West Blvd Groundbreaking
    CMPD West Blvd Groundbreaking
  • Gift from Parkview Community
    Gift from Parkview Community
  • Councilwoman Mayfield and Senator Tammy Baldwin
    Councilwoman Mayfield and Senator Tammy Baldwin
  • Councilwoman Mayfield and Secretary Foxx
    Councilwoman Mayfield and Secretary Foxx
  • Parkview Celebration
    Parkview Celebration
  • Councilwoman Mayfield and Pastor Fisher
    Councilwoman Mayfield and Pastor Fisher
  • CNG Ribbon Cutting
    CNG Ribbon Cutting
  • Premium Outlet Grand Opening
    Premium Outlet Grand Opening
  • Re-elect LaWana Mayfield
    LaWana

Austin, Texas - Councilmember LaWana Mayfield, Charlotte, N.C. was elected 2015 president of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Local Officials (GLBTLO) constituency group during the group’s business meeting at the National League of Cities’ (NLC) Congress of Cities & Exposition in Austin, Texas.

“I am truly honored to serve as incoming President of GLTBLO,” said Councilmember Mayfield. “I hope to work with leadership to grow this constituency group and spread the work of the National League of Cities and the importance of openly gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual local elected officials.”

Other officers serving on the GLBTLO Board of Directors include:

  • 1st Vice President: Andy Amoroso, commissioner, Lake Worth, Fla.
  • 2nd Vice President: Tom Green, commissioner, Wilton Manors, Fla.
  • Immediate Past President: Keith McGlashan, councilmember, Shoreline, Wash.

At-Large Members:

  • William Boom, councilmember, Davenport, Iowa
  • Philip Kingston, councilmember, Dallas, Texas
  • Adam Medrano, councilmember, Dallas, Texas
  • Greg Pettis, councilmember, Cathedral City, Calif.

Established in 1993, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Local Officials (GLBTLO) constituency group is a voluntary association of local elected and appointed officials formed within NLC to encourage the active involvement and full participation of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender municipal officials and their supporters, in NLC’s organization and programs.

The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.

By New Growth Hair Magazine

Several years ago, I noticed a newly-elected Charlotte City Councilwoman named LaWana Mayfield. What caught my attention was that she had long beautiful Locs.  Charlotte prides itself on being the progressive city of the “New South”, but most of our elected officials look more like slightly modern versions of characters from The Andy Griffin Show. So how did LaWana Mayfield become the first Naturalista and first openly gay person to serve on Charlotte’s City Council?

After conducting an interview and photo shoot with Councilwoman Mayfield, I quickly found the answer to my question. I didn’t feel like I was interviewing a politician, it seemed like I was having a conversation with my big sister. She was very direct, straight-forward, and didn’t dodge any of my questions. During the photo shoot, we spent so much time clowning and joking, it didn’t seem like we were working. Several times during the photo shoot, we were stopped by her supporters asking “What’s going on?,” and complimenting Councilwoman Mayfield on her appearance.  After Mattie, our photographer, began taking photos, Mayfield had convinced all of us that she had some prior modeling experience. Councilwoman Mayfield’s energy and disposition was as natural as her hair. Below, are Councilwoman LaWana Mayfield discusses natural hair journey and the role it played in her first political campaign.

Phillips: Did you ever relax your hair? If so, when did you go natural and why?

Mayfield: Yes, when I was seventeen years old, I got my first relaxer. During my childhood, I didn’t have a relaxer because my mother didn’t believe in putting chemicals in our hair. My mother and I never had a conversation about getting a relaxer, but based on her behaviors, I could tell that she thought my sisters and I didn’t need a relaxer. She was very big on braiding and platting our hair. My mother’s views have definitely stuck with me because it concerns me when I see parents who are relaxing their toddler’s hair. I can’t say that I agreed with her back then, but now I am so thankful that she didn’t allow me to relax my hair back then.

On Sunday afternoons, our kitchen became the beauty salon because that’s when my mother had the time to press, plat, or braid our hair. I didn’t really have to worry about how to style or manage my hair because my mother was my stylist. During my sophomore year in high school, my mother passed away. That was a very challenging time for me. After taking time to reflect on your question, I think part of the reason I relaxed my hair was because of the loss of my other mother. I didn’t know what to do with all of my hair and I didn’t have her here to help me.

A year prior to going natural, I began to notice African-American women who dyed their hair blonde, putting in ridiculously long extensions, and putting a hair texture in their hair that they didn’t have the means to maintain. So in a silent protest, I promised myself that I would not spend money on hair weave. At the same time, I begin to notice the beginning of the natural hair movement. I saw more women in movies, on television, and in the general public with natural hair. So during the fall of 1996, I began my transition to returning my hair to its natural state. It was time for me to love my hair and love myself which was my form of protest against lack of self-love. I let my relaxer grow out, braided my hair, and then I started the process of Locing my hair. As my Locs grew out, I cut out the braids.

Phillips: When you decided to run for City Council, were you concerned about your hairstyle affecting your ability to get elected?

Mayfield: When I decided to run, my Locs were mid-way down my back. Often times, I would have my Locs pulled up in a bun. I wasn’t concerned about my Locs but I did notice some of the seniors in my district would make suggestions on how I should style my hair. It was shocking and interesting that conversations about my hair were taking up time that we could have been discussing serious political issues. So then the rebellious side of my personality kicked in and I began wearing my hair out so that everyone could see my Locs. I wanted to break the ice and end the stereotype of how you have to look to run for office. I wanted to let the public know that you don’t have to dress conservatively with pearls, bland colors, or look like a 1950s public school teacher to run for office. I wanted the voters to look past my hair and listen to my message.

Phillips: Recently, The United States Army created regulations banning Afros, most Braids, and Twists. Does the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department, Charlotte Fire Department, or any other City of Charlotte department have similar restrictions for its employees?

Mayfield: No, we do not have any regulation prohibiting women from wearing their natural hair. If your readers aren’t aware, we have female Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department [CMPD] officers who wear Locs, Twists, and a variety of other natural hairstyles. We also have female CMPD officers who by choice wear extensions. Our CMPD officers have the ability to wear their hair as they please. The only issue may be one of safety and in that case they may be asked to pull their hair back or to put it in a bun. The issue of banning hairstyles has not been an issue and isn’t an item on the agenda for Charlotte’s City Council or Charlotte’s City Manager. On behalf of the City, I feel confident saying that we don’t plan on creating policies or rules that prohibit women from being their authentic selves.

Phillips: Does your natural hair communicate anything about your political views?

Mayfield: Initially, my response was, “No, my hair doesn’t communicate a message about my political views,” but after taking time for self-reflection, I had a change of heart. So with confidence, my final answer is “Yes. Yes, my hair does communicate my political views.” I don’t embrace the out dated view that women have to look a certain way, be a certain size, and chemically treat their hair to hold public office. The message that my hair communicates is that I am an authentic person and that I’m comfortable with who I am as a person. Because I am comfortable with myself, I think it makes it easier for me to serve the public because my self-identity and my ego aren’t going to get in the way. When I say that I’m comfortable, that doesn’t mean that I’m perfect, just that I accept and embrace who I am. Looking back, I think that’s the message that my mother was trying to teach us, that we should accept ourselves for who we are.

Phillips: In light of former Mayor Cannon’s recent criminal activities, what can be done to restore public trust in local government?

Mayfield: We need more transparency and I’m referring to transparency from the community. The community can’t just show up when it’s convenient for them. The community expects their elected officials to be present and engaged at all times. Well, the same applies to the community too. These allegations aren’t anything new. There have been allegations for 15 or 20 years but our community (specifically the communities of color) is so loyal that we don’t want to bring down one of our own. Often times, we feel like we have to protect our leaders because the establishment is out to get them. But what if your leader is the problem? At what point does his or her responsibility come into play? When do you check your leader and say what you are doing is going to affect not just you but our entire community? After the community makes appeals to the leader to correct the inappropriate behavior, when does the community step in and shut the leader down as opposed to waiting for federal authorities to investigate? I have a concern when our community gives leaders passes as opposed to addressing inappropriate behaviors that need to be checked.

Currently, there are 775,000 residents in Charlotte and all of the citizens may not agree with my decisions. I am not going to make everybody happy nor will I attempt to make everyone happy. I choose to make the best decision based on the available information. If I am stepping way outside of my lane then the community needs to pull my coattail to let me know that I am out of bounds. Unfortunately, former Mayor Cannon didn’t have people in his circle to pull his coattail and what we now have are the results of a leader who went unchecked.

Phillips: Any closing comments?

Mayfield: Get Involved! The City of Charlotte has boards and commissions and we are always looking for citizens with expertise to help our city grow. I encourage all of your readers to review the qualifications, find the board or commission that matches your interests, and apply for a position to improve our world-class city.

Charlotte, N.C. City Councilmember becomes one of over 100 elite David Bohnett Foundation LGBT Leadership Fellows since 2002

WASHINGTON – Today, the Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute and the David Bohnett Foundation announced Charlotte City Councilmember LaWana Mayfield as a graduate of the David Bohnett LGBT Leadership Fellowship.  Mayfield was one of three fellows for the June 2014 class where she spent three weeks in intense state and local government programing at the Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge, Mass.  The program helps senior executives hone their skills and furthers the leadership potential of already accomplished public servants.

 

“I congratulate LaWana on this accomplishment – this intense program for senior executives at the Harvard Kennedy School is transformational,” said Torey Carter, managing director of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute.  “It provides a continuum of leadership development that bridges personal and professional growth with the skills necessary to address challenges that affect her community.”

 

“The current graduates from the Leadership Fellows program will join their alumni colleagues in leading exemplary lives of public service as open LGBT American citizens,” said David Bohnett, chairman of the David Bohnett Foundation. “The Fellow program empowers LGBT leaders who are making a difference in the world, honing skills and furthering their leadership potential.”

 

“Attending the Harvard Kennedy School has helped me to start thinking about streamlining my future political aspirations – leadership is identifying the best in others and encouraging it to soar,” said LaWana Mayfield, Charlotte City Councilmember.  “Without the David Bohnett LGBT Fellowship I would not had the opportunity to network and share best practices with some of the best leaders from around the country.”

 

Mayfield represents District 3 on the Charlotte City Council. She was first elected in 2011 and is serving her second term. Her previous public service includes chairing the Youth and Gang Violence subcommittee of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee, and working as a community advocate with the Charlotte Community Justice Coalition. She has served as Grants Committee Chair and a board member of the Charlotte Lesbian and Gay Fund, as Board Co-Chair of the Ujamaa Institute, as National Female Diversity Co-Chair for the Human Rights Campaign, and was appointed to the National League of Cities Human Development Committee.

 

Since 2002, the David Bohnett Foundation in partnership with the Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute has sent a select group of LGBT fellows to participate in the summer program. The intensive, three-week session offers a balance of traditional and hands-on learning experiences to help public officials meet the changing needs of their communities. Mayfield joins a distinguished group of alumni, including some the country’s top lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political leaders – Houston Mayor Annise Parker and New York State Sen. Tom Duane (Manhattan).

By Natash Morris
Charlotte Observer

When LaWana Mayfield meets you, she flashes a radiant smile and hugs you warmly like an old college friend.

She’s eager to put on a bandana, a T-shirt and a pair of sneakers to pick up trash, build Kaboom parks and Habitat for Humanity houses.

She paints fences, plants trees and repairs homes on Realtor Care Day.

Those efforts are the part of the job she loves most.

She doesn’t care about accolades or being in front of the camera, saying instead that her greatest fear is forgetting she’s a public servant, a position she holds as the Charlotte City Council District 3 representative.

Mayfield’s vision for the Steele Creek community is simple, she said: Be active. Be engaged.

“What is our personal connection today with each other to work on creating a neighborhood?” Mayfield said. “I need us to exert a lot of ownership and recognize that it’s up to us individually and collectively to be as strong as we want it to be.”

Steele Creek is named after a small stream near the intersection of Shopton and Steele Creek roads, according to the Steele Creek Residents Association. The 46-square-mile southwest Charlotte neighborhood is bounded by the southern end of the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Lake Wylie and Interstate 77 from Arrowood Road to Tega Cay, S.C.

“Steele Creek is like this hidden jewel,” said Mayfield, 44. “You have this quiet little quaint community that’s right outside, where you can hop on I-485 or I-77 and get into uptown.”

Despite being relatively unknown among its District 3 counterparts, west Charlotte and South End, Steele Creek gradually is evolving from an industrial hub to an interconnected community of 51,000 residents.

Mayfield says the Charlotte Premium Outlets, a 400,000-square-foot shopping center that will open this summer, presents the ideal opportunity for Steele Creek residents to get involved.

“I reached out to residents in the Berewick community. We got a van and drove to Mebane, North Carolina, because that was the closest Tanger Outlet,” Mayfield said. “I wanted the residents to ask whatever questions they have of the developers as well as the Tanger family to see is this is something that the community would embrace.”

Mayfield said she would like to see more residents become active in neighborhood and City Council meetings and public hearings, and build more relationships with potential developers and local businesses.

“I want my time to set a new bar of transparency for the community to do better and to expect better from your representative,” Mayfield said. “I want somebody from the community to step up and get on board and eventually run for office.”

For Mayfield, doing better starts with being accessible.

“Contact me,” she says: “My process has been an open-door process, because I don’t know what you want unless you reach out to me.”

She attends neighborhood meetings and community events as her schedule permits.

Mayfield, a Democrat, also recognizes that residents who belong to other political parties may be hesitant to contact her.

“I’m not looking you up to see what your party affiliation is,” she said. “I’m looking you up to see if you are a resident of District 3. Then I’m going to ask you in detail what exactly is the concern or the issue and to see if it’s something I can do.

“I try to give people very real answers to their questions. And I try to be honest and say, ‘That’s a great idea, but we can’t do that. Now, what else you got?’ ”

Mayfield is serving her second term after first being elected in 2011 and again in 2013. She said she’s not in the position to make a name for herself in politics but as an extension of her 25-plus years as a community activist.

“I’m really good at this because I really love people,” she said. “I’m now in the role where I get to connect people to the proper department, the proper channels in order for them to achieve what it is they want to achieve.”

Mayfield said she would like see the light rail extended into Steele Creek. As for her future, she says, she’s happy in her current position.

“I don’t know if my plan of service will be welcomed on higher levels,” she said. “This is my next level of service. Before, I was an organizer pushing for change. Now I’m sitting at the table helping to create and direct that change.”

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/05/10/4891129/charlotte-city-councils-district.html#storylink=cpy

 

 

Staff Writer
Charlotte Business Journal

Charlotte Premium Outlets will open July 31 in Steele Creek, and the nearly 400,00-square-foot outlet center will have 100 stores — up from the 90 planned initially.

The mix of retailers will sell apparel and shoes, fashion accessories, leather goods, home furnishings and specialty goods.

The outlet mall is a 50-50 joint venture between Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group Inc. (NYSE:SPG) andTanger Factory Outlet Centers Inc. (NYSE:SKT), which is headquartered in Greensboro.

The center is being built on a 40-acre parcel on the west side of Interstate 485 between Shopton and Steele Creek roads.

Construction of the outlet center started in September, with Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th being named as the first tenant.

On Monday, the outlet center announced the following tenants: Adidas, American Eagle, ASICS, The Body Shop, Brooks Brothers, The Children’s Place, The Cosmetics Company Store, Crabtree & Evelyn, Fossil, Gold Toe, Haggar, Jockey, Justice, Kay Jewelers, Kitchen Collection,Le Creuset, Lindt Chocolate, Perfumania, Rack Room Shoes, Robert Wayne Footwear, Samsonite, Seiko, Skechers, Swarovski, The Uniform Company, Vitamin World, Wet Seal and Wilson’s Leather.

The remaining tenants have not yet been disclosed.

Simon and Tanger has said the center’s stores will provide shoppers with everyday savings of 25 percent to 65 percent.

The project is expected to generate $140 million annually in retail sales. The center’s stores will provide more than 900 full-time and part-time jobs.

Simon’s Premium Outlet portfolio includes 81 outlet centers, with 65 in the United States. Tanger operates, owns or has an ownership interest in 44 outlet shopping centers in 26 states and Canada.

 

By Fred Clasen-Kelly
The Charlotte Observer

Charlotte City Manager Ron Carlee has removed the box on city job applications that asks candidates to disclose their criminal records.

The move puts Charlotte among a growing roster of cities, including Durham, Seattle and Minneapolis, that have eliminated the question on applications to make it easier for people with criminal histories to get hired.

Critics say the so-called “ban the box” movement poses a danger to employers, co-workers and the public.

But supporters argue that ex-convicts need work, and that under the old hiring process some could be disregarded even when they were highly qualified.

“It will reduce recidivism,” said Jason Huber, a professor at the Charlotte School of Law, who helped lobby city officials for the change. “It sends the message to people who have paid their debt to society that you can get a fair shake.”

Previously, city of Charlotte job applicants were asked: “Have you ever pled guilty to, or been convicted of, a crime other than a minor traffic violation?”

On Friday, officials erased the question on applications for jobs that do not have a public safety or statutory requirement, such as police officer or airport employee.

The change means the city will delay asking about an applicant’s criminal record until later in the hiring process. Officials will continue to conduct background checks on finalists for openings.

“We heard from proponents there were people who were reluctant to apply” because of the question about criminal convictions, said Cheryl Brown, director of human resources. “We don’t want people to feel that way.”

Brown stressed that city officials are “not lowering standards” and that decisions about hiring someone with a criminal conviction would depend on the nature of the offense and how it relates to the job opening.

Seeking ‘flexibility’

Charlotte’s change is relatively modest compared with other cities.

More than 50 cities and counties nationwide have adopted rules banning questions about criminal records on initial job applications. The list includes North Carolina’s Cumberland County, Carrboro and Spring Lake.

Some have passed ordinances forcing government contractors to halt the practice. Others such as Philadelphia, Newark, N.J., and Buffalo, N.Y., have extended the rules to private employers, according to the National Employment Law Project, a nonprofit that advocates for the laws.

Keith Richardson, a Charlotte city spokesman, said officials tried to strike a balance that would give government contractors “flexibility” in making their hiring decisions.

“We think we found a great middle ground,” Richardson said.

Huber, the Charlotte School of Law professor, said he and other proponents plan to lobby local business leaders to support “ban the box” measures in their hiring.

A spokeswoman for the Charlotte Chamber said the group has looked into the issue, but has not taken a stance.

According to a 2011 report by the National Employment Law Project, about 65 million people – or about 1 in 4 U.S. adults – have a criminal record that may show up on a routine background check.

Hiring practices that eliminate candidates early in the process have far-reaching impacts for African-Americans and Latinos. Those groups make up a disproportionate share of prison and jail inmates.

Opposing ‘ban the box’

The Obama administration has urged changes related to the criminal justice system and race. Recently, Attorney General Eric Holder has said states should repeal laws that ban felons from voting.

Two years ago, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recommended that public and private employers stop asking about criminal records on applications. The EEOC also suggested that employers consider whether the crime is related to the job opening.

Some business groups and others have opposed “ban the box” measures.

In Michigan, the state Chamber of Commerce fought a proposal because the group feared businesses could face lawsuits if they hired an ex-convicted who hurt another employee or customer, spokeswoman Wendy Block said.

“Businesses need to make decisions with relevant facts,” Block said. “They are asking businesses to move to stage two of the hiring process with one hand tied behind their back.”

Delaying questions about a job candidate’s criminal background is “just a waste of everybody’s time,” Block said.

Some Charlotte City Council members raised concerns when they debated the issue a year ago. They voted 6-4 to have council’s economic development committee study the topic.

The committee chose to let Carlee decide whether to implement the change.

Council member Michael Barnes, an attorney who chairs the economic development committee, initially opposed removing the question about a job applicant’s criminal past. He said last year that the move could expose the city to negligent hiring lawsuits.

Barnes now says his fears have been allayed. In a brief interview, Barnes said he is confident background checks will weed out any potential problems.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/02/28/4731175/charlotte-wont-ask-about-convictions.html#.Uy-LQ_ldU2t#storylink=cpy

 

By Ely Portillo
Courtesy of Lake Wylie Pilot

The balance of power in the city’s seven districts stayed unchanged Tuesday, as Democrats won five council seats and Republicans took two, avoiding any upsets.

The election brings four newcomers to City Council, as incumbents James “Smuggie” Mitchell, Warren Cooksey, Andy Dulin and Michael Barnes did not run for their district seats again this year.

In the end, there were no surprises. Democratic candidates easily won the five districts where they have a majority, and Republican candidates won the city’s two majority Republican districts in south Charlotte without a struggle.

None of the winners racked up less than almost 67 percent of votes. In three of the seven districts, candidates ran unopposed. Mayor Patsy Kinsey, a Democrat, cruised back to her former District 1 seat. She gave up her seat to serve as mayor after former Charlotte mayor Anthony Foxx’s appointment to be U.S. Secretary of Transportation earlier this year.

Incumbent council member John Autry, also a Democrat, won his seat in District 5 without opposition. And in south Charlotte’s District 6, newcomer Republican Kenny Smith didn’t face an opponent in his bid to replace Dulin.

District 2

Tuesday’s election was the first time in 14 years that Mitchell wasn’t on the ballot in District 2, and Democrat Alvin “Al” Austin appeared set to easily win a seat on the council in Mitchell’s place.

The district skewed in Austin’s favor, with almost two thirds of voters registered as Democrats. In past elections, Mitchell often has won more than 70 percent of the vote. Mitchell gave up his seat when he unsuccessfully challenged Patrick Cannon for the Democratic nomination for mayor.

Austin, a major gifts officer at Johnson C. Smith University, defeated Republican Darryl Broome by a wide margin. Austin won just more than 80 percent of the vote, compared to Broome’s 19.9 percent.

District 3

Council member LaWana Mayfield, a Democrat, easily beat two challengers to win the District 3 seat for a second term. She faced Libertarian C. Travis Wheat and Republican Eric Netter in the election.

Mayfield, who was first elected in 2011, won 77.4 percent of ballots cast. Netter trailed with almost 18 percent, and C. Travis Wheat won more than 4.5 percent.

Mayfield, a community organizer, was favored to win District 3, in which almost two-thirds of registered voters are Democrats. The district covers much of west and southwest Charlotte.

District 4

Charlotte’s only independent candidate fought an uphill battle in District 4, as Michael Zytkow sought to defeat Democrat Greg Phipps in the race to replace Michael Barnes.

But Phipps, a retired bank examiner with the U.S. Treasury Department, won with more than two thirds of the votes cast in the district. Zytkow finished with about a third of the vote.

Zytkow, an activist who helped organize the Occupy Charlotte and Democratic National Convention protests, got more than 3,000 petition signatures to win a place on the ballot. His is believed to be the first such successful effort by an independent candidate since Charlotte adopted single-member districts in 1977.

There was no Republican candidate in the race. Still, Zytkow said he knew his campaign was a “David and Goliath” situation.

“If there’s a nail in the coffin, it’ll be straight-ticket voting,” Zytkow predicted Tuesday while shaking voters’ hands at a precinct. Out of the 74,010 registered voters in the district, 55 percent are registered Democrats.

As the results came in Tuesday evening, Phipps said he was driving around picking up his campaign signs. He praised Zytkow for his energetic campaigning.

“It made for a very lively campaign. Everywhere I was, even during the primaries, Mr. Zytkow was there,” said Phipps, who said he had signed Zytkow’s petition to get on the ballot. “I don’t think we’ve seen the last of him.”

District 7

Democrat Bakari Burton took on Republican Ed Driggs in the majority-Republican District 7. The final vote tally showed that District 7’s Republican majority gave Driggs a decisive win, as he finished with almost 72 percent of the vote. Burton won 28 percent of the ballots cast.

A retired banker and analyst, Driggs and Democratic challenger Bakari Burton were vying to replace Cooksey, who decided not to seek re-election.

For Driggs, the most competitive race was the primary, in which he faced two Republican challengers. Forty percent of the registered voters in District 7 are Republicans, compared with only 26 percent Democrats.

Louise Chamberlain said outside Olde Providence Elementary School that it had been a quiet race.

“It’s just like I haven’t heard a word about these guys,” she said. But Chamberlain, wearing an Eisenhower medal from her grandmother around her neck, said she would vote for Driggs because he is a Republican.

Driggs said he hoped he could work with the City Council’s Democratic majority while keeping a close eye on spending.

“My goal is to do the best possible thing for the taxpayers,” said Driggs.

“I’m hoping it won’t be such a sharp divide, and so adversarial along party lines,” he said. “Perhaps we can avoid some of the confrontations.”

By ourtesy of WFAE 90.7

The Charlotte Housing Authority showed off a new development Friday intended to serve low-income families and seniors.

The 41-acre site on West Boulevard near the Billy Graham Parkway used to be called Boulevard Homes, and it was a pretty rough area. Before it was torn down two years ago, the public housing complex was often in the news for violent crimes, including a 1993 shooting that claimed the lives of two CMPD officers.

A $21 million federal grant paid for the demolition. To get that money, the city committed $12 million toward infrastructure improvements. The grant also requires a school be included in the development plans. The neighborhood has been appropriately branded Renaissance. It will eventually include more than 300 units.

Laura Clark is director of the Renaissance West Community Initiative. She says the idea is to create a multi-generational environment for kids to grow up in.

“It just changes the frame entirely to have a whole community dedicated to building our children up,” she says.

The first building to open is reserved for seniors and disabled people. It’s  brick with robin’s-egg blue accents, dormer windows on the top floor, and brown wooden rocking chairs on the front porch. People driving down West Boulevard may be surprised when they see it, says City Councilwoman LaWana Mayfield.

She predicts, “They’re going to say, ‘oh, that’s affordable housing?’”

The building’s 110 units are all one bedroom. Rents range from under $400 to more than $1,000 a month. There’s a screened-in porch that looks out over the rest of the neighborhood, which is now still a construction site.

Plans are for the Renaissance development to be finished by 2015, at a cost of $75 million.

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund today announced its annual “Races to Watch” list featuring openly LGBT candidates, naming 10 candidates involved in groundbreaking runs for political office this year. Victory has endorsed a total of 85 out candidates for 2013, an all-time high for an odd numbered year.

“2013 isn’t an off year. It’s definitely on at the Victory Fund.” said Lucinda Guinn, Victory’s political director. “We’re working hard this year to help build up local heroes in places where equality is late in arriving. Places where these candidates can be the spark to help their own communities move toward equality.” Guinn said.

The following are Victory’s “10 Races to Watch” for 2013. Find out about all Victory Fund-endorsed candidates at www.victoryfund.org.

Annise Parker – Mayor, Houston, Texas
As mayor of the fourth largest U.S. city, Annise Parker is one of the most visible and respected LGBT leaders in the country. Running for her third and final term, she faces a self-funder that has already invested over three million dollars of his own money.

Ed Murray – Mayor, Seattle, Wash. 
State Sen. Ed Murray has represented the 43rd Legislative District of Washington’s State legislature since 1995 and currently serves as the Senate Democratic Leader. He finished ahead of all other candidates in the August 6th primary and faces the incumbent mayor in the November election. If elected, Murray would become the city’s first ever openly gay mayor.

Celia Israel – Texas House of Representatives (District 50)
A recognized leader in the LGBT and Latino communities, Israel would join Rep. Mary González in the legislature and become the second openly LGBT member of the Texas House of Representatives.

Robert Lilligren – Minneapolis City Council (District 6), Minnesota
Robert’s background of community activism led him into elected office in January 2006. Now vice president of the Minneapolis City Council, he has been an outspoken advocate for the LGBT community. Robert is running to remain the lone LGBT member of the Council.

Catherine LaFond – Water System Commission, Charleston, Charleston, S.C.
Catherine was inspired to run for office after a screening of Breaking Through, the documentary about openly LGBT elected officials and their journey of running for elected office. If elected she would be the first person in South Carolina to run as an openly LGBT candidate in a contested election and win.

Michael Gongora – Mayor, Miami Beach, Florida
Now in his second term, Gongora was Miami Beach’s first and only openly gay elected commissioner. He faces a self-funded millionaire in his fight to become the city’s next Mayor.

Darden Rice – St. Petersburg City Council (District 2), Florida
Rice has spent the last three years as the President of the St. Petersburg League of Women Voters. Her win would add an authentic voice for the LGBT community to the council.

Tim Eustace – New Jersey State Assembly (District 38)
Nearing completion of his first term, Eustace is one of only two openly gay legislators in the New Jersey State Assembly and the first to be elected as an out candidate. Along with Rep. Reed Gusciora, Eustace authored the New Jersey Marriage Equality bill.

LaWana Mayfield – Charlotte City Council (District 3), North Carolina
Mayfield was elected in 2011 and is currently serving her first term. After the election Mayfield became the Council’s 2nd African American elected female and the first Openly LGBT Elected Official in the City of Charlotte.

Chris Seelbach – Cincinnati City Council (At-Large), Ohio 
Running for his second term, Cincinnati City Council Member Chris Seelbach made history in 2011 when he became the first openly gay person ever elected in Cincinnati. Chris was recently named by the White House as a Harvey Milk Champion of Change.

 

By Mark Price
Courtesy of The Charlotte Observer

On Friday, Charlotte’s Habitat for Humanity expects to hit the $5 million mark for money invested in revitalizing West Charlotte’s Reid Park community.

That milestone comes at the same time the agency will kick off its 30th anniversary celebration, which proposes to help 42 families with housing in 30 days.

Habitat’s plan is to eventually invest $7 million in Reid Park, with projects including new parks, newly built homes and critically needed repairs to existing homes.

And therein lies one of many reasons Charlotte’s Habitat is considered among the most influential nonprofit home builders in the nation.

In the past decade, it has either launched or helped create models that are now standard practice for Habitat affiliates around the country, among them the concept of revitalizing entire neighborhoods with homes built by charity.

Charlotte Habitat estimates its total economic impact in Charlotte over the past 30 years is $500 million. That includes not only the money it spends on contractors, construction materials, and buying property, but also $10.3 million in property taxes paid by the low income people who bought its homes.

The month-long 30th anniversary celebration is intended to be an unabashed self promotion of its success.

However, community leaders say it’s no exaggeration to call Habitat an important player in the city’s effort to supply more affordable housing for working families struggling to make ends meet.

In the past 30 years, Habitat has built or repaired 1,256 homes, where 5,000 people now live.

Meanwhile, the neighborhoods have benefitted from an increase in homeownership, which is having a bigger influence, said Charlotte City Council member David Howard.

Examples include Optimist Park, which has 60 Habitat homeowners, and Reid Park, where the agency has repaired or built about 50 Habitat homes.

In the latter case, Habitat also bought 24 empty lots that were part of a defunct development plan. It intends to fill them with new homes, though a few are being given to the community as park space.

“They are doing this in neighborhoods that haven’t seen any development in years and to me that is the more important part of what they do,” Howard said.

“They are turning neighborhoods around and when you do that, you’re helping the whole city. They are taking on areas where you have a lot of substandard rentals and turning the tide by putting up single-family homes.”

Charlotte City Council Member LaWana Mayfield added that Habitat is providing this additional housing at a time when federal and state money is tough to find.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/09/20/4329059/habitat-celebrates-30-years-and.html#.Uj-lw4ZOO1V#storylink=cpy