Editor's note: This is the last part of a series of Q&As with the two mayoral candidates, Republican Edwin Peacock III and Democrat Patrick Cannon. Peacock's Q&A published last week.
Until this year, Patrick Cannon, who at 26 became the youngest person ever elected to local office, mostly existed in the shadow of Mayor Anthony Foxx. And though it was easy to draw parallels between their political careers, the two often found themselves at odds over key issues, particularly last year's Foxx-backed capital budget that Cannon and a handful of council members voted against. Now that Foxx's coattails are well out of Charlotte, Cannon, 47, has a chance to capture the audience's full attention.
Creative Loafing spoke to Cannon about his plans for his hometown, his biggest challenges and his proudest vote. This transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Creative Loafing: Why are you running for mayor?
Patrick Cannon: As a native Charlottean, and one who cares deeply for the people and the city I live in, I bring about a servant's heart to want to create a better city throughout every part of our city; to enjoy a safe, affordable and thriving city with a comprehensive transportation plan. Secondly, I'm also running because I believe we need energetic leadership that has a proven track record of getting things done.
What are the biggest challenges facing the city?
A lack of public-private ventures. I am from a fabric of knowing and understanding what it means to have public-private ventures to be able to accomplish the things that have gotten us to where we are. It is the sort of thing that we need to make sure that we are readdressing to bring about the things that will move Charlotte forward. The second thing is having leadership that is willing to build a rapport with governing officials across the board, including those in the faith, non-profit and private sectors. I don't know that we've done the best job at this, and I would like to work toward building the bridge or extending the olive branch.
What leadership characteristics do you bring to the table?
Several. I am a team player, especially on common sense or logical matters. Secondly, I can deliver on issues. I'm an advocate for change to bring about balance. And as a small-business man, I bring a perspective that is beneficial for someone in politics to have — I look out for the best interests of taxpayers.
What was it like to grow up in Charlotte, and how has it affected you as a politician?
I didn't grow up privileged, like some have. I think that, in itself, has been great for me, because it gives me an opportunity to experience a way of life that a lot of people don't get a chance to experience. It allows me to be balanced in my approach to people. I'm able to relate to people on a lot of different levels, regardless of where they happen to be from.
You've spent so much time now on the City Council, some might consider you the establishment candidate. Is that an unfair analysis?
I've never gone along to get along. I do what's right in this community. I've always represented balance, and I'll continue to represent balance. If you look at my record, it will reflect many things that I've accomplished that haven't been for the elite, but instead for the community overall. Whether it's the north, east, south or west or center city, you'll find my handprint everywhere.
If you were mayor, what would you do about poverty in this city?
Something I've been about has been trying to make sure that, again, there is balance across the board. When you consider some of the $32 million in neighborhood improvements that I've incorporated in years past, in things related to housing, infrastructure and economic turnaround, you'll see that I've done a lot to make sure these areas don't remain downtrodden. These and other areas, including Freedom Drive, areas of North Tryon and parts of east Charlotte, still need some level of work, and my administration would make sure that we wouldn't leave anybody out. That brings about balance where balance is needed.
What's the proudest vote you've ever cast?
There are so many. Locally, it's probably the $1.32 billion capital investment plan, the largest in city history. It basically provided $88.3 million between east, west, north and south Charlotte. Another is $10 million for new sidewalk construction, and, the one most important to me, $8.4 million for a west side strategy plan that I pioneered, which allowed for areas such as economic development, public safety, the environment, land use, green space and housing, among others, to be concentrated in a portion of our city that had been largely in part forgotten about.