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VOTE411 Voter Guide

Charlotte City Council District 3

Charlotte has a council-manager form of government with a mayor and 11 council members elected every two years in November, and a professional city manager to run the day-to-day operations. The mayor and four council members are elected at-large by a city-wide vote. Seven council members are elected from districts by voters who reside in each district.The Charlotte City Council responsibilities are: Police, Fire, Water and Sewer services for the entire County; Garbage, Transportation, Infrastructure, Zoning, Land Use, Planning and Economic Development for the City of Charlotte.

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    Victoria Watlington

Biographical Information

What is your experience, including your 3 most important political/civic accomplishments in the last 5 years?

What is your district's most pressing issue and what steps will you take in response to it?

What are your ideas for addressing adequate affordable housing? How will you work with NCGA to obtain adequate funding to finance your objectives?

As Charlotte keeps growing, what components of the city infrastructure most need attention? How would you address them?

What plans do you have to improve public safety in Charlotte, beyond extra police officers?

How can the City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools improve their support of each other?

What should Charlotte be doing to attract new jobs, particularly for young people and those with less than a college degree?

Will you urge your supporters/constituents to support or reject the proposed 0.25% sales tax increase? Why?

Current occupation Mid-Atlantic Service Operations Manager
Age 31
Professional: Engineer, Project Manager, Operations Manager

Graduate: CMPD Citizen's Academy, Civic Leadership Academy, Aviation Academy, Community Planning Academy Board Member: Business Advisory Committee; Vice Chair, Civil Service Board; Land Use Committee Chair, West Blvd Neighborhood Coalition; former Programming Chair, UWCC Young Leaders Council; former Programming Chair, National Society of Black Engineers; Elevation Outreach

As the Land Use Chair with WBNC, I am leading 2yr community effort with City staff on West Corridor Playbook, the strategic plan for this area. We have completed a market study, defined project priorities, developed a strategy set of documents, and have gain alignment from City executives to champion our plan as part of the Charlotte Future 2040 plan. We had successfully advocated for 2020 budget funds for improvements specifically in our community. WBNC has established a platform for collective power, and we want to take our approach to the dais.
Given the rapid change in District 3, community-led strategic planning has become a necessity for existing residents’ survival. Without it, many who have grown up in this city will find themselves without a viable housing option, and with fewer long-term employment prospects. As outlined in the previous question, I am eager to reapply our successful approach in partnership with the City to educate and empower community leaders to create a Comprehensive Plan that addresses affordable housing, transportation, and economic mobility. To do this, we, the City, must engage the residents, grow their knowledge of local and state government processes and understand the market opportunities in our community. This allows us, the community, to identify and develop leaders to advocate for affordable housing, transportation, and economic mobility via neighborhood associations, City boards and commissions, non-profit groups, and businesses.
When it comes to Affordable Housing, ownership is the name of the game. Protect existing NOAH: invest in tax abatement and rehab programs, as well as estate planning education for homeowners. Support the expansion of the land trust model. Leverage public resources to pursue vacant and for-sale parcels through newly created programs. Consider the impacts of changes to the Minimum Housing Code on displacement. Convert renters to owners: grow down-payment assistance programs to enable new homeowners. Support financial literacy and homeownership education. Explore ways the City can partner with financial institutions. Enable new affordable housing: streamline zoning and development processes. Align our incentive structure with affordable housing goals, and pursue policies that enable increased density and more efficient use of space.

With NCGA, we must tie affordable housing to our competitive advantage for job recruitment, expanding NC's tax base.
We are in need of safe, reliable, complete public transit options, including metro/intercity rail, buses, air travel, and alternative transit options. In addition, electricity, broadband must keep pace with growing demand. With a focus on connecting existing infrastructure, I intend to help connect neighborhoods to existing grants to improve connectivity in their communities (crosswalks, sidewalk repairs, lighting, signage, etc). On a larger scale, I am very interested in the outcomes of the Envision My Ride studies, and will ensure suggested route optimizations are administered equitably. Finally, I will explore additional ways to alleviate congestion in Steele Creek through developer partnerships, leveraging our incentive program to negotiate for road improvements in lieu of state projects. In regards to mass transit, we must continue to build a regional coalition from which to plan and fund future rail line, including approaching Washington with a collective voice.
As the Vice Chair of the Civil Service Board, I have worked with CMPD and CFD evaluating new hires, promotions, and disciplinary action for both departments, as well as reviewing the recruitment strategy, hiring practices and training. I support efforts to recruit and retain more officers invested in the communities in which they serve.

Infrastructure: I seek to help neighborhoods and businesses in high-crime areas get safety improvement grants to prevent crime via lighting, cameras, community watch, etc. In addition, we must invest in diversion youth programs to connect people to opportunity.

Community: We must invest in diversion youth programs to connect people to opportunity. Much of the increased crime in Charlotte are crimes of opportunity, and often related to acquisition of goods: larceny, theft, etc. I plan to work with public and private partners to connect teens to community and workforce development opportunities to enable economic mobility, and a sense of purpose.
It starts with building relationships. We must be intentional about connecting regularly to create better working relationships so we can collaborate on budgets and upcoming plans that have inter sectional impacts (new schools, zoning, development). At all levels within our local government, we must create a culture of collaboration by identifying cross-functional "natural work groups" and build those connections into our standard work. As part of professional development, we should provide employees education on the other agencies, and adopt a unified approach to constituent services.
In order to attract new jobs, we must build a strong workforce. I support expanding project PIECE by identifying training/certification programs that align with targeted sectors: Advanced Manufacturing, Technology, Logistics and Distribution, Financial Services, Health Care, International Business, Headquarters, Automotive Industry. To fill our pipeline for the future, we must partner with CMS, CPCC, and vocational schools to connect students to businesses and programs that can prepare them for life after high school. We must also consider how to enable returning citizens to re-enter the workforce, by identifying local business partners with whom we can work to match opportunities with our neighbors who are making efforts to rebuild their lives and provide for their families in productive ways.
I will urge them to decide for themselves. I support putting the decision-making back in the hands of the voters. We have many complex and pressing issues facing our community, and we must do the work of prioritizing our efforts. In addition, it is our local government's responsibility to maximize effectiveness and efficiency, ensuring we steward existing revenue in a fiscally responsible manner. We must remain engaged in the budget process, advocate for our priorities, and, when it is necessary, cast a vote to direct our resources toward the things we need most.