If the May 6 primary showed politicians anything, it's to expect the unexpected.
A lightning rod of controversy, Nick Mackey defeated Drew Saunders in the Democratic primary for N.C. House District 99. This fall, he will face Republican Dempsey Miller in the general election. Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board member Vilma Leake beat Mecklenburg County Commissioner Norman Mitchell and will face Republican Tim McLeod in November for the District Two commission seat. Political newcomer Harry Taylor, a Democrat, will try to take U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick's seat in Washington, D.C.
What do these candidates say they're going to do to win their races this fall?
"Well, I'm not ready to talk about that right now," Leake said.
Leake was informed that Creative Loafing spoke with her opponent. She replied, "That's good."
A resident of District Two since he was two years old, McLeod believes its time for a change in leadership.
He plans to focus on crime, taxes and the growing school budget. To get his message out, McLeod is attending community meetings and going door-to-door.
"People are tired of being taxed to death and not getting a good return on their investment," he said. "They're tired of spending half a billion dollars for schools and only graduating 70 percent of the students at grade level. I'm hearing that they are tired of having crime run rampant, but we won't spend money on important things like jails."
"I need to be out speaking as often as I can to as many and different and diverse groups as I can," Taylor said. "We're coming off a great victory and a really exciting win. We've got so many things going on all over the country with just a community screaming for change. Everybody I talk to says, 'Yes, we need change.'"
Taylor made headlines in 2006 when he publicly criticized President George W. Bush at an event at Central Piedmont Community College. He believes Myrick too closely follows the failed Bush administration and Washington needs better leadership.
"She's been there for a long, long time ... She is focused on Jihadism, which I know is an issue and we need to be vigilant of ... but to presume that we don't have the ability as a people to get along with people that are different from us, but that we should keep having wars and throwing people in prison and giving up our own civil rights -- to be focused on this when there is so much more going on is foolish. We need to be looking at what's happening in our country every day and not what might happen if our police work and our intelligence work fails."
Myrick was not available for comment at press time because she was hospitalized at Carolinas Medical Center.
A Republican running in a heavily Democratic district, Miller said it's time for Republicans to bring change to Raleigh. Like his opponent, Nick Mackey, Miller cites crime as the primary issue on the minds of District 99 residents. Miller said when he gets to Raleigh crime is going to be his primary issue. The second issue is transportation and the construction of Interstate 485: "It's been on the books for a long time and we just can't get the funding to get it done. That's going to be another issue I address when I get there."
Miller said Mackey's much-publicized troubles may give Mackey name recognition, but that recognition is likely to help, not hurt, his campaign. "I'm going to be out there promoting myself on a positive basis and showing my integrity," Miller said. "I believe that's going to overcome a lot of the publicity he has gotten."
Mackey said he plans to continue the same grassroots campaigning that he's always done. "You can have all the money in the world, but votes go further than money. Those people that live in the district are the ones who are going to vote," he said.
Mackey claims negative reports -- such as a recent Charlotte Observer article detailing a suit against Mackey for $56,592 in back rent -- are just negative politics by media out to get him.
"The things that get reported about me are things that go on in everyday people's lives," he said. "But if it's Nick Mackey then certain media outlets feel as if they can get mileage out of it and help my opponent at the same time. I don't think the people are fooled by the propaganda because they can relate to the very same issues. The issues I had over the years are the exact same issues everyday people face."