Primary election sparks fly

by Tori Hamby

The Charlotte City Council District 2 representative James “Smuggie” Mitchell faces a particularly odd primary election Sept. 13.
Not only does the incumbent find himself up against three challengers, an unusually high number of contenders for District 2, but he also is running against his former wife of more than 20 years, Vivian Mitchell. The two divorced last year.
“I feel that he’s really abandoned and neglected the community on every level,” Vivian Mitchell said. “If you look at the Beatties Ford Road corridor, it looks like a third-world country. There’s no economic development at all.”
The Sept. 13 primary determines the winner of the seat. Because four Democrats, and no Republicans, entered the race for the seat earlier this summer, the winner will be decided by the primary instead of the general election in November.
James Mitchell has served six in terms since first being elected to the seat 1999. He ran unopposed in 2005 and 2007, and took 2009’s election with more than 80 percent of the vote.
Vivian Mitchell criticized her ex-husband for not responding to his constituency’s needs, saying that he did not return phone calls from concerned citizens or attend community meetings.
James Mitchell defended his time in office, citing recent economic developments, such as the $3.1 Mosaic Village project and economic growth in the Northlake Mall area of Huntersville, as evidence of his success. Johnson C. Smith University broke ground on the Mosaic Village in April and city leaders say they hope that the mixed-use student housing and retail space brings revitalization to the Beatties Ford Road corridor. As for his ex-wife’s accusations that he refuses to connect with voters, he said his record “speaks for itself.”
“I think my record clearly shows that I show up to all kinds of community events and communicate with my constituents,” he said. “I speak to children at schools. I go to ribbon cuttings at businesses. I’m very hands-on.”
The Sept. 13 primary also pits five Democratic at-large city council candidates against each other. The top four vote-getters will move on to the November election where they will face off with four Republicans for the four open at-large seats.
The District 2 Charlotte City Council Candidates are:

Cameron W. Gardner
Age: 36
Work Experience: Geographic specialist for the U.S. Census Bureau for two years; project manager for PPK, Inc., a community planning consultant firm, for two years; and has worked as a private consultant from April 2006 until present.
Charlotte’s biggest challenge: Gardner said Charlotte’s economy must become more competitive and emphasized the need for a “balanced transportation system” including an “adequate road network,” trains, buses and other forms of alternate transportation.
“Charlotte is at a pivotal point in its development. It must increase its competitiveness regionally, nationally and internationally so that it can compete for corporate relocations, expansion of existing businesses and remain an attractive place for individuals and families to come and be able to thrive.”
What sets District 2 apart from the rest of Charlotte: “I feel that District 2 is the most neglected district in Charlotte. At this pivotal point in time, District 2 must be positioned to better compete for new jobs. Its road system is lacking and needs addressing immediately. It also must be on the ‘radar’ of more of Charlotte’s existing and future power brokers. It is also a great place to live.”

Gregg Greer
Age: 40
Work Experience: Greer has spent 20 years in the corporate sector holding assets protection, logistics and operations executive positions and works as a retail chain auditor. For 10 years, he also has ministered in several churches, including Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. He serves as a Court Appointed Special Advocate Association court appointed advocate for abused and neglected children. In 2010, he founded the Urban Christian Leadership Institute.
Political Experience: He has spent seven years as a Democratic Party community organizer. This is his first run for political office.
Charlotte’s biggest challenge: Increasing communication between the City of Charlotte and the rest of Charlotte, including District 2.
“I don’t think we’ve done a good job of hearing people’s concerns. The communication from City Hall back into the community is not there, and it is something we can do better.”
What sets District 2 apart from the rest of Charlotte: “It’s a historic community-one of the oldest areas in Charlotte. You have the Washington Heights neighborhood, a progressive area where a lot of African American professors at Johnson C. Smith make their homes. Then you have areas closer to uptown, as well as the Northlake Mall area that are huge income earners. District 2 brings a lot of income into the general Charlotte area.”

James “Smuggie” Mitchell
Age: 49
Work Experience: Currently is managing director for Integrated Capital for Strategies, Inc.
Political Experience: Currently serving his sixth-term as Charlotte City Council’s District 2 representative. He serves as president of the National League of Cities and N.C. Black Elected Municipal Officials, and was a former chairman and president of the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials Foundation. Locally, he has served on the boards of the Police Activities League, Right Moves for Youth Advisory Council, N.C. Center for Afterschool Programs and East Stonewall AME Zion Church.
Charlotte’s biggest challenge: “We need to continue to work on providing jobs and making sure our quality of life continues to improve. We need to make sure that we are providing the right infrastructure and that our roads are in great condition to make our district a place that people want to relocate to.”
What sets District 2 apart from the rest of Charlotte: “I think it’s our ability to collaborate. From a citizen standpoint, we have some of the strongest neighborhood presidents and town advocates who are willing to work together for the better of everyone. The area has really re-branded itself as great place to live, work and play.”

Vivian C. Mitchell
Age: 47
Charlotte’s biggest challenge: Double-digit unemployment and the need for 21st century job training.
What sets District 2 apart from the rest of Charlotte: “Half of District 2 is made up of the financial district.”

Look out for a full run-down of Charlotte City Council’s at-large candidates and Mount Holly City Council candidates in the October issue of the Mountain Island Monitor.

Did you like this? Share it:

Leave a Reply