By John Patrick
There will not be an incumbent running for re-election in District 6 of the Charlotte City Council.
The electoral vacuum is due to Republican Councilman Kenny Smith’s candidacy for mayor, and a local business leader hopes to fill the vacancy.
Tariq Scott Bokhari is the Republican frontrunner for District 6. He totes an extensive background of success in financial technology and risk management, having worked for such giants as Wells Fargo, GE Capital and FIS Global. He co-founded the financial technology firm Aggressant and serves as its CEO.
“I personally love Charlotte and really feel it’s a great way to give back to the community,” Bokhari said of the reason driving his candidacy.
He wants to serve the city that has provided a positive environment in cultivating a career and raising his family. Bokhari and his wife, Krysta, have two children, ages 2 and 4, and are expecting a third child in the following months.
He previously ran for city council’s District 1 in 2007 and an at-large seat in 2009. Bokhari has set his sights on a new district – his home.
By all accounts, he has some major shoes to fill.
Councilman Smith will leave behind a credible precedent of ushering pragmatic solutions to businesses and residents.
Bokhari realizes the citizens of the district have high expectations for solid leadership and proactive communication. He hopes to mirror a similar approach to the office.
The greatest nuance Bokhari will need to finesse is the district’s growth spawned by development projects. Though largely residential subdivisions, the district attracts apartments, townhomes and commercial businesses.
Striking mutually beneficial compromises between the commercial sector and residential demographic is vital. Bokhari explained he will do three things to ensure the best-possible outcome for all: uphold the personal property rights of homeowners; adhere deference to the market and private firms investing their own capital and resources; and become a communication facilitator early on.
At the front of Bokhari’s agenda is Charlotte’s role as a banking hub and the importance of the flourishing industry that is financial technology – an area of his expertise. Many experts predict that within 10 years, nearly one-third of all traditional banking jobs will be lost to the disruptive forces driven by financial technology innovation. Given Charlotte’s function as a major market for banking, Bokhari wants the city to flourish as the industry makes the swift transition ahead.
“We need to let the free market forces continue to drive this job growth forward as unhindered as possible and invest in the fundamentals that make companies want to bring new jobs to the area – things like strong talent pool, good roads and safe streets,” he said.
Together with a group of local businesspeople, Bokhari has been spearheading initiatives in the Charlotte area aimed at bolstering the city’s financial technology enterprise and will launch their joint venture called the Carolina FinTech Hub in the coming days. They want to ensure the bank-centric city remains competitive.
Bokhari has already been endorsed by an esteemed list of notable area Republicans, including former Governor and Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, N.C. Rep. Andy Dulin (R-Meck) and Mecklenburg County Commissioner Matthew Ridenhour. At the nomination of then-Mayor McCrory, Bokhari has served on the business advisory, community relations and privatization/competition committees.
“I want my kids to want to move back here after college for the same reasons I wanted to move here 15 years ago,” he said. “It’s a safe, growing city with all kinds of great job opportunities.”