Candidates line up for shot at city at-large

It’s going to be a crowded race to fill four at-large seats on Charlotte City Council this November – seats that will only add to the soon-to-change council that is losing both of south Charlotte’s current District 6 and 7 representatives and also leaves seats for District 2, 4 and mayor up for grabs.

Twelve candidates have filed for the four open seats, including incumbents Claire Green Fallon, Beth Pickering, David Howard and current District 4 representative on the council Michael Barnes. The seven Democrats running in the race will face a primary Sept. 10, a Tuesday, to cut the Democrat field down to four candidates. A second primary vote will take place Oct. 8, if necessary. The four Republican candidates and one Libertarian will add to the mix on Election Day and will not have to participate in the primary vote. The Nov. 5 vote will cut the nine candidates down to four new council members.

This week, South Charlotte Weekly is taking a quick look at the at-large candidates. Each candidate was asked the same three questions and responded through email. Responses were edited for space. David Howard did not respond to questions by press deadline. Find the candidates’ complete, unedited answers at

Charlotte City Council At-Large
Democratic Candidates

Michael D. Barnes

Why did you decide to run?
I have distinguished myself as a reasonable and thoughtful leader on the Charlotte City Council.  I have taken the time to learn about issues across the city.  I have a passion for economic development and job creation as well as strong public safety and infrastructure improvements across our city.  I would be honored to take a more global approach to many of the issues we face, and I believe I could best do that in an at-large capacity.

What one word best describes your candidacy? Why?
Determined.  I have always been determined to do what’s best in my life and for Charlotte.  I recognize that some of my decisions may not be popular with everyone (even people in my own party), but I make an effort to reach fair and reasonable conclusions.

What pertinent experience do you have?
I have served four terms or almost eight years on the Charlotte City Council.  The skills I’ve developed as a practicing attorney help me to see issues for what they are, have meaningful discussions about those issues and make sound decisions based upon the facts, current policy and community interest.

Claire Green Fallon

Why did you decide to run?
I am running for re-election to the city council as an at-large council member because I bring a bipartisan, common sense approach to the council and think I am effective in looking out for the tax-paying public.

What one word best describes your candidacy? Why?
I am honest, practical and outspoken; I say what I think and don’t equivocate.

What pertinent experience do you have?
I have been a Char-Meck Planning Commissioner, founded the NorthEast Coalition, Vice Chair – Gov. relations committee- Vice Chair – Environmental- Mayor  – Mentoring Committee- Housing Trust- Trustee Blumenthal and the Committee of 21. I was voted one of the 50 most influential women in Mecklenburg County in 2010.

David Howard

* Editor’s note: Howard did not respond to questions by press deadline.

Scott Derek Jenkins

*Editor’s note: Answers were pulled from Media Candidate Info sheet provided by Scott Derek Jenkins. Jenkins did not directly answer questions from South Charlotte Weekly.

Campaign Objectives/Mission Statement: To win election and hold public office to better serve the citizens and employees of Charlotte.
• Provide common sense and cost-effective solutions (to) serve and improve the lives of all Charlotte residents as well as the men and women who make up the city’s workforce.
• As a full-time council member, I intend to represent with high visibility all citizens and employees of Charlotte.
• Lower or slow the rate of tax increases for all of Charlotte’s residents adjusted to current economic conditions. This will enable our city to remain affordable to attract new residents and businesses.
• Ensure funding is spread out fairly throughout the city to address all city area needs.
• Address all underlying problems we face together as a community.
• Be part of the conversation to address crime, job growth and economic stability. As we move forward as a city and a community we cannot and must not leave anyone behind.
• Combat poverty on all fronts.
• Pursue youth programs and invest in children’s futures and provide opportunities to enable them to be productive citizens.
Experience: Current Charlotte city employee, administration staff member for Street Maintenance NE Division; successful Army veteran – Logistics Sergeant – numerous classes and training, leadership development; attended San Bernardino Valley College-California and Central Piedmont Community College.

Vi Alexander Lyles

Why did you decide to run?
I am running for an at-large city council seat to help find solutions to today’s problems. We need leaders who can move beyond saying “no” to identifying points that we can agree upon. I am a consensus builder. I know how to get to “yes.” I will work with the mayor and city council to improve relationships with the governor, state legislature, neighboring municipalities and adjoining counties.

What one word best describes your candidacy? Why?
Qualified. As a former assistant city manager and budget director, I have the experience and understanding of the issues and challenges facing Charlotte. I also understand the importance of the city’s relationship with its neighborhoods and businesses and community partners.  I am prepared to serve and make a difference now.

What pertinent experience do you have?
I am unique in this race with my experience and relationships in local government as former assistant city manager and budget director. I understand the numbers and how they impact a city, but I am also passionate about programs that impact people. Last year, I served as the director of community outreach for the 2012 Democratic National Convention. The experience gave me an opportunity to create programs that will have a lasting impact on the communities in Charlotte.

Beth Pickering

Why did you decide to run?
I’m running for re-election because there’s a lot more work to do and I want to be a part of doing it. Top priority?  Revitalizing the areas of the city that have been neglected – east side, west side and some of north side. I won’t be satisfied until all areas of our city are thriving the way they should be.

What one word best describes your candidacy? Why?
Passion, energy, commitment describe my candidacy. I love Charlotte and I love doing this work. There’s nothing more satisfying than feeling like you’re making a positive difference in the lives of real people.

What pertinent experience do you have?
I’m currently serving on council as an at-large representative, so I’ve been in the trenches for the last year and a half.  Can you say budget, streetcar, airport?

Nancy Wiggins

Why did you decide to run?
After due consideration and discussions with other community leaders, I decided to run for the city council at-large position because I wanted a seat at the table so I could add unwavering support for the retention of Charlotte’s assets and to add a progressive voice to the decision-making process for determining our future. One thing I learned early on in my international business career was that the manners and respectful behavior that I was taught here in Charlotte has made a significant contribution to my success.

What one word best describes your candidacy? Why?
Progressive. I believe that I bring real, practical solutions to real problems facing our community. I believe my experience as an international businesswoman, a political science professor, a community leader and volunteer adds practical knowledge to help resolve our issues in an efficient way. As a Charlottean, I have grown up with the “can do” spirit that has made Charlotte the community it is today.

What pertinent experience do you have?
My pertinent community service includes working [1] on the mayor’s committee for the city budget under Mayor Knox, [2] on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission [1994-99] where we directed the staff to make the revitalization of First Ward our number one priority; [3] approved recommendations for the rezoning that established Ballantyne and updated the SouthPark area; [4] worked with staff to develop the mass transit plan designed to fit our needs as an expanding urban center; and [5] approved the addition of runways for the Charlotte-Douglas Airport. Additionally, I have served on nonprofit boards and the county’s Recycling and Waste Management

Eric A. Cable

Why did you decide to run?
I decided it was high time to stop complaining and start doing. Additionally, I felt it was important to give the voters of Charlotte someone to vote for who was neither Republican nor Democrat.

What one word best describes your candidacy? Why?
Simple. Why simple? Because I am a simple man. No MBA or JD here. No family money here. No large party backing me. I am a regular guy who works all day to pay his bills. I know what it is like to be 18 and not have the financial ability to go straight to college. I know what it’s like to work and sweat for a living. I think most Charlotte voters will find me to be more similar to them and their beliefs than they might

What pertinent experience do you have?
I was a member of the Candlewyck Homes Association Board for four years. I have been on the boards of a number of other small nonprofits over the years.

Vanessa Faura

Why did you decide to run?
I’ve always been fascinated by our country’s political processes. After much prayer and personal reflection, I realized that this was the perfect time for me to start building my dream of becoming a public servant. I arrived in Charlotte 16 years ago on an Amtrak train with my husband, a backpack and no idea what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised at how warm, open and accepting the people of Charlotte were. Over the years, this city has given my family and me so many opportunities that now it’s time for me to give back in this capacity.

What one word best describes your candidacy? Why?
Authenticity. With me, what you see is what you get. Anyone who knows me – whether for a day or over the course of several years – will attest to that. I’m not seeking office for fame or power; that’s not who I am. Rather, I’m running because I love my city, I respect my fellow Charlotteans (regardless of political affiliation), and I believe in my party. Along with authenticity, honesty and transparency serve as the basis for my campaign, and those principles will continue to drive the decisions I make while I’m serving my community in

What pertinent experience do you have?
I’ve been heavily (and happily) involved in my community since moving to Charlotte 16 years ago. In that time, I’ve earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Queens University of Charlotte (as a mother of two with a full-time banking career), developed a nonprofit organization that guides local families on the college selection process and started a catering business called Faura’s that specializes in international gourmet cuisine. These experiences (among others) have all sharpened my leadership and critical thinking skills while allowing me many opportunities to engage with Charlotteans from across the

Mark Frietch

Why did you decide to run?
I have decided to run because I feel the direction the current council has taken our city is not making it better. I am focusing my campaign on what I am calling the four “P”s: Public safety, prioritizing spending, partnerships and public

What one word best describes you candidacy? Why?
Creative. Charlotte is at a crossroads and we need to be creative on how we generate revenue and bring jobs and people back to the city. My goal will be to utilize my business experience and come up with creative ways to tackle the city’s challenges.
What pertinent experience do you have?
I was a member of the Cornelius Land Development Code Committee. I also have experience in making business decisions and recruiting talent to enhance companies. These skills will be vital as I look to help rebrand Charlotte as more than just a banking and financial services city. I currently hold memberships in the Charlotte Junior Chamber and serve at Elevation Church Uptown

Ken Harris

Why did you decide to run?
I grew up surrounded by politics and was immersed in the political campaigns of my father, Ken Harris Sr., former Charlotte City Council member, mayor of Charlotte and N.C. state senator. My father understood what many in his generation knew: a citizen has an obligation to give back and get involved in order to create and maintain a strong community. It is time for citizen-leaders to bring back the best of Charlotte, and it is time for my generation to step up and take the lead. So, following in my father’s footsteps, I decided it was time for me to take up the challenge and be the citizen-leader that Charlotte

What one word best describes your candidacy? Why?
Stewardship. One of the greatest qualities that Charlotte leaders have had in past decades was this notion of stewardship. The leaders were wise to remember that the city is looking for their leadership and guidance, but not their interference and intrusions.  While we need council members with professional experience and vision, we also need members who understand and account for the economic and realistic constraints of Charlotte

What pertinent experience do you have?
I have been a practicing attorney in Charlotte for over a decade. I spent many years working as a commercial litigator for a large law firm, negotiating with clients; creating, researching and reviewing contracts; and involving myself in a number of professional and local civic and charitable organizations (such as the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Junior Achievement and the Charlotte Housing Authority). The experience increased my passion for helping others. In January 2009, I finally found the proper outlet for my passion and began work for the Council For Children’s Rights as a Juvenile Defense Attorney. I have experienced the professionalism and high-level business of a large firm litigator as well as the sometimes-sad/always-fulfilling world of public defense and juvenile

Dennis Peterson

Why did you decide to run?
I am running because I’m not satisfied with the current economic condition nor am I satisfied with the policies being enacted by our current city council.  Instead of taking actions to help citizens burdened with a growing cost of living, they are doing the opposite. We need to empower people to take advantage of opportunity and let them keep more of the fruit of their own labor.

What one word best describes your candidacy? Why?
Change. My candidacy is one of changing the focus of city government to the people rather than focusing on giving out incentives to special interests. The greatness of our city doesn’t come from policies and programs that emanate from the government center – it comes from the spirit, the creativity and the hard work of our people. It’s time we had a city council that understood that and supported the

What pertinent experience do you have?
Besides being a husband and father of two boys (Joseph, 20, and Matthew, 16), I am currently a vice president at Wells Fargo in our Digital Channels Group.  I’ve recently retired from the United States Navy after a 22-year career where I attained the rank of commander. I also am a volunteer with NC Heroes Fund, Charlotte Bridge Home and the NC Committee for the Employers Support of the Guard and Reserve.

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