South Charlotte’s Driggs, Smith agree with Clodfelter appointment

South Charlotte’s representatives to city council believe the appointment of Daniel Clodfelter as mayor is a step in the right direction for Charlotte, and one that puts the city back on the right track following allegations of corruption against former mayor and Ballantyne resident Patrick Cannon.

Clodfelter, who until this week was the state senator representing the south Charlotte and Pineville District 37, was appointed mayor by council Monday, April 7, over other possible candidates that included former city councilman and 2013 failed mayoral candidate James Mitchell. Council appointed Clodfelter 10-0, with Councilwoman LaWana Mayfield not voting, after a motion to appoint Mitchell came up short.

Clodfelter, a former city councilman who was sworn into office on Wednesday, April 9, immediately steps into a role that will play a big part in helping Charlotte leaders move forward on issues ranging from possibly storing coal ash near Charlotte Douglas International Airport, authority over the airport and ongoing 2014-15 fiscal year budget discussions, among numerous other current hot topics, both south Charlotte councilmen Ed Driggs and Kenny Smith said this week.

“You look at the large issues we’re working on … and simply to get back to work is going to go a long way toward getting the ship righted,” Smith, the SouthPark-area District 6 representative to council, said shortly after Clodfelter was officially sworn in Wednesday. “One of the benefits to our new mayor is … he’s going to hit the ground running. He will be a quick study.”

The last two weeks have seen city government leaders scrambling to keep a sense of normalcy after FBI officers arrested Cannon on March 26, leading to his resignation later that night. Cannon is charged with violating federal corruption laws by allegedly accepting $48,000 in cash and other gifts in exchange for the use of his position as both mayor pro-tem and then mayor in the multi-year investigation.

While they acknowledged appointing a new mayor doesn’t erase the damage to the city’s image the recent political scandal may have caused, both Driggs and Smith say the quality of the person appointed will go a long way in setting the correct tone.

“I was grateful we were able to get something done in a dignified fashion, and I feel we made the right choice,” said Driggs, the Ballantyne-area District 7 representative, pointing to Clodfelter’s “exceptional and impeccable track record on ethical issues.”

Smith agrees, saying Clodfelter’s “integrity was second to none.”

“After I heard his speech today (Wednesday), I was thoroughly reassured that he was the right selection,” Smith added.

Both Driggs and Smith, the only Republicans on council, said they know they’ll eventually butt heads with Clodfelter, a Democrat. But this week wasn’t about political differences as much as it was about putting a strong leader at the center of the city council dais.

“When you look at what we’re facing right now … there are a couple big items out there that are looming,” Smith said. “I think having a new mayor just in and of itself is going to help push the process of getting the events of late March behind us. And having a strong leader and personality in that seat … is going to help.

“I am 100 percent confident in the selection we made.”

Leaders with the Ballantyne Breakfast Club and the Ballantyne chapter of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce plan to invite Clodfelter to conduct a town hall meeting in Ballantyne in the near future. Information about that meeting will be announced once it is confirmed.

An appointment to fill the open District 37 seat has not been announced. Clodfelter was the only person to file to run for the seat in this November’s upcoming election. Write-in candidates can petition to be put on the ballot by June 27.

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