Area residents will soon have a chance to meet their new mayor and make sure he’s aware of what concerns they have about the future of the city and spending of their tax dollars.
Mayor Dan Clodfelter will break with recent tradition when he speaks at a meeting with south Charlotte residents on June 10, a Tuesday, at the Ballantyne Hotel. Mayor Anthony Foxx, now U.S. Secretary of Transportation, was an infrequent visitor to Ballantyne Breakfast Club meetings, and Mayor Patrick Cannon, a Ballantyne resident, was arrested in March prior to having a chance to attend.
Clodfelter’s visit is a good sign for Ballantyne advocate Ray Eschert, who hopes the mayor’s discussion will alleviate concerns some in the area have that Charlotte government is more interested in other parts of the city, such as Uptown, than it is Ballantyne.
“I’m very encouraged by a mayor who is proactive in identifying that he serves the entire city of Charlotte and that’s he’s reaching out,” Eschert, founder of the Ballantyne Breakfast Club, said about Clodfelter’s request to speak at a club meeting. Clodfelter, who served as a Charlotte City Council member and most recently as a state senator, was appointed Charlotte mayor in April.
“Clodfelter was eager to get down here,” Eschert added. “His assistant … said the mayor was disappointed he couldn’t make the Priorities Meeting (held in March) but wanted to come down.”
Foxx, who served two terms as mayor, was often unavailable when Eschert asked his office if the mayor could speak in Ballantyne, he said. That response is something Eschert worries left a bad taste in the mouths of Ballantyne residents.
“I heard it from a number of people over the four years (of Foxx’s time as mayor) about why Foxx hadn’t come out to talk to us,” Eschert said. “It sends a clear message to the residents when you have a mayor who passes you over,” and that is something that could have contributed to the push by some in Ballantyne to de-annex from Charlotte, Eschert added.
Councilman Ed Driggs is pleased with Clodfelter’s approach to the mayoral seat so far, he said, and anticipates this won’t be Clodfelter’s last trip to Ballantyne.
“I think it indicates the balance in his understanding of Charlotte’s needs” that he would ask to speak in Ballantyne, Driggs said. “I do see a more inclusive perspective.”
Clodfelter is expected to discuss his plans for the city as he fills the remainder of Cannon’s term, which ends in December 2015, and take questions from the audience. Eschert expects there to be some questions regarding recent rezonings in south Charlotte, and about how bond money is spent on Ballantyne-area projects. Driggs said it’s important Clodfelter understands how much new construction is currently taking place in south Charlotte, and the concerns surrounding that with traffic congestion and other issues.
“I would tell him that we have a lot of development activity going on here, and rezonings,” Driggs said. “There are some people who would just like to keep things the way they are in south Charlotte, and that’s not going to be possible. So we need to manage the zoning process so the area is very livable.”
The meeting, hosted jointly by the Ballantyne Breakfast Club and Ballantyne chapter of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, will start with refreshments at 6 p.m. and the discussion following. It will take place in the ballroom of the Ballantyne Hotel, 10000 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy. Find more information at www.ballantynebreak fastclub.com.
Driggs also hosts weekly discussions at the Gallery Restaurant at the Ballantyne Hotel. Meetings are Friday mornings at 7:30 a.m. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to his mailing list about upcoming events.