By Jamie Hildreth and Ray McKinnon
The Mecklenburg County Commission isn’t listening.
Over the past three years, commissioners ignored our community conversation about closing the opportunity gap, and instead focused on increasing their own pay, making the county commission less accountable to voters and spending tens of millions of dollars on a soccer stadium.
Some commissioners ignored the will of our county’s voters by engaging in divisive leadership fights, with Democrats voting to make a conservative Republican vice chair.
The commission has ignored calls from our immigrant and minority communities to end their support of the 287(g) program.
Perhaps worst of all, the commissioners have ignored the needs of our school faculty, staff and students. While our school leaders say “our kids need us,” the county commission has ignored the CMS budget request year after year.
Both of us – Jamie Hildreth and Ray McKinnon – decided to run for county commission because we see opportunities for change.
Jamie Hildreth is a devoted son, friend and community volunteer. As an advocate who has fought to bring equality to people of all identities and as a leader working to bring resources to his neighborhood, Jamie works to connect people to the resources they need because he knows the difference it can make in someone’s life.
Ray is the husband of a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teacher and the father of CMS students. As a pastor who provides emergency housing during the winter months and as a member of the Charlotte Housing Authority board, he bears witness to the opportunity gap every day as he serves people searching for shelter.
However, the problems facing our county are bigger than any one candidate or campaign.
Our students don’t have time to wait for new leadership, and neither do our neighbors who are in search of affordable housing.
That is why we have decided to endorse each other’s campaigns, work together and run together for the Mecklenburg County Commission At Large.
Mecklenburg County needs Democrats who will work together for a change. If elected, we promise to work together not only with other county commission members, but also with our partners on the school board, Charlotte City Council and our six town councils.
We will be tireless advocates for our schools, our parks, our county employees and everyone who depends on county services. We will build a coalition on the county commission that has the courage to invest in our future.
We also believe that we are the right candidates at the right time to help the county commission rebuild trust with the public.
The county commission has been mired in scandals like the cyberattack on county systems, the inadequate response to shelter seekers during our long winter and the gross mismanagement of the health department. Often, the response from individual commissioners has been to deflect blame and pass the buck.
We want to rebuild the trust in the county commission, and to do that, we have to see every member of the community as our equal. Humility is a big part of Ray’s platform, and we hope to be members who admit our mistakes and apologize instead of deflecting blame.
Bringing the focus back to the community is a key part of Jamie’s platform, and we hope our work with diverse segments of our community would help us bring a listening ear and a less dismissive tone to the county commission.
We understand problems from an intersectional perspective and realize that many of our issues are interconnected and may require new solutions.
We recognize that there isn’t time to wait another two years. If you believe, as we do, that we need a change on the county commission, we ask for your vote for Jamie Hildreth and Ray McKinnon in the Democratic Primary on May 8.