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VOTE411 Voter Guide

Charlotte City Council District 4

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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  • Candidate picture

    Renee Perkins Johnson
    (Dem)

  • Brandon Pierce
    (Rep)

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?

Position/philosophy statement Without a cause, there is no effect!
Current occupation Founder/Executive Director of Triumph Services, an organization that serves survivors of trauma.
Age 52
Campaign Phone (980) 216-4534
Expanded my nonprofit organization, Triumph Services, to Charlotte. Joined the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Continuum of Care Started NC's only support group for Loved Ones of Brain Injury Survivors LOBIS
We're one of the fastest growing region's in the area. I will work to create a Commumity Engagement Teams that includes representatives from all affected parties: City, County, CMS, UNCC, CDOT, neighborhood leaders to review development plans proactively and strategically
Collaboration! Working with County for additional tax incentives for landlords and developers for affordable housing and below market rates. Working with NCGA for changes to legistlature that allows inclusive zoning so that developers can be mandated to allot units for affordable housing. My strength is building relations
Transportation, utilities, traffic patterns. This is where the Community Engagement Teams would be effective, because the tough and strategic issues such as infrastructure, school capacity, traffic, police services could be considered. We have to be strategic and proactive in the development process and ask the tough questions upfront. No building first and asking questions afterward.
Because I'm an advocate for the formerly incarcerated and individuals with cognitive disability, I know how important appropriate mental health treatment is to breaking the cycle of crime and effective stewardship of public dollars. Investing in Mentorship programs, vocational training, liveable wages. More cameras, lighting in high crime areas & safe meeting areas for online sales transactions
Community Engagement Teams where all individuals are at the table. Routinely meeting to review proposed development projects and other issues that have over-arching effects. We have to collaborate in order to solve the problems that affect all of the entities.
More vocational training for high school students and youth. Working collaboratively with organizations such as NC Works, Urban League and other vocational training programs to develop a highly skilled workforce. Promoting partnerships between these organizations and large employers.
Charlotte is in a housing crisis, there is currently a deficit of 25,000-35,000 affordable housing units. Lake Arbor just closed, displacing approximately 177 displaced residents. We have homeless familes and homeless veterans living on the streets. We're number 50 of 50 in economic mobility. Of the 50 million projected from the tax increase, the Arts and Science Council would get about 49%. Parks and greenway projects would get 30%, and only 16% would be budgeted for teacher pay increases. While Arts are important to the culture, diversity and economy, there are greater priorities in the city such as affordable housing, economic mobility, gentrification, increased property tax rates.
Position/philosophy statement We can do this. More Community, Less Politics. #Progress
Current occupation Culture & Stewardship, Project Manager Coca-Cola Consolidated
Age 26
Campaign Phone (980) 222-4931
I typically don’t like this type of question because I don’t like to talk about me, me, me, but instead, my job is to represent the people. However, I understand that in order to represent the people, the people have to get to know me. My experience is as follows - I have been in the city of Charlotte & surrounding metro areas since age 9. I'm a byproduct of CMS (Ranson Middle School & Philip O Berry Academy of Technology HS). I recently graduated from UNCC in 2016. - I have been working for my current employer since the age of 15 where I started off as a high school paid intern. While working for Coca Cola I put myself through college and went on to raise a family in the University area. - I have been organizing & attending community outreach events for the last decade on a weekly basis. Some of the events include; serving at the Urban ministry, volunteering at Samaritan Feet shoe drives, building homes with Habitat, etc. My father taught me "whoever serves the city, wins the city".
My districts most pressing issue at the moment is growth and development. My district is predicted to be the fastest growing district by 2040. While this is a positive thing, it is also a major issue if not drastically prepared for. My solution to respond to this is as follows;

1. Shifting how we solve the affordable housing crisis. More details on this will be on the Affordable Housing question. 2. We are going to re-think how we go about the Transportation building in my district. More details on this when we get to the infrastructure question. 3. We have to plan for sustainability right now despite the growth. This means we need to start planting and growing urban forests and food gardens while we have the means. We also need to start thinking of ways to incentive our developers to use renewable resources. An example of this is allowing developers to create denser units or tax credits if they agree to install solar panels for same cost while building new buildings
There’s simply no way to build our way out of this problem. Real solutions must involve supporting a range of affordable housing options — especially building pathways to homeownership. Some of the things we plan to do are as follows: Support innovative affordable housing solutions, from tiny homes to shared equity. Ensure that our zoning ordinances allow for diverse housing options across the city. Expand down payment assistance programs and financial literacy support through a public-private partnership. Explore creation of a public-private land trust to buy land before it gets too expensive. The NCGA should be focused on helping to fund down payment assistance programs. But the best thing NCGA can do for us is to recruit companies with high paying jobs to come to our city. Again, the end goal should not be a forever cycle of the government building affordable units, the end goal should be raising our citizen's wages while decreasing our building costs to make housing affordable.
Transportation is a big deal that is not being addressed in a manner that benefits the people who need it the most. I am strongly advocating that we invert and flip our current process of building from the Center City first and connecting outward. If we want to uplift our citizens we should flip it and instead start to build transportation hubs in the furthest points of the city and branch inward. This radical approach will cost more money and time but the result is it will lift up more citizens. It’s also time to start investing in technological solutions that will keep our resident’s safe as they are accessing transportation. Examples include cameras, panic buttons, etc. We have so much technology at our hands, let’s start utilizing it in our infrastructure designs. Another component that needs attention is Traffic. We need to start solving our traffic problems with a more holistic approach and continue to invest in 5g technology to accelerate the market for V2V technology.
This is a community approach. Fortunately, our community is fed up & ready to take the responsibility to secure our neighborhoods. We need leadership to hold the culprits of the violence accountable & teach our youth to handle conflict without violence. My plans include: Creating neighborhood leadership coalitions to identify solutions to the specific crime problems each faces. We also need to double the city’s investment in JumpStart Safety Micro-Grant from $500,000 to $1 million per year, with a substantial amount spent in District 4. These grants support community organizations working in conflict resolution, family stabilization, and crime-fighting. I plan to advocate that CMPD invest in foot patrol officers within neighborhoods to build relationships between the officers and people they serve. In order to do this, we are going to need to fund additional officer positions, with a focus on recruiting heavily in diverse and minority communities.
The thing that all three of those government functions have in common is that they serve the community. If we want them to improve their support of each other, they have to improve their ability to allow the community to be a part of the decision-making process. This means we need complete transparency in their process and the community should not be an afterthought, we should be the only thought.
I have long advocated for the Charlotte City Council to return it’s focus back to recruiting jobs. I think they have been doing a great job recruiting corporations but that is only 1/2 of the equation. Our city council should be recruiting the launch of new small businesses & working to expand and grow current small businesses. Small business is the backbone of our economy and typically makes up 2/3 of our net new jobs. In Charlotte, we have to do a better job of letting the businesses we recruit be small business. This helps our youth in particular those with less than a college degree by giving them more employee options. The more employment options we have the more power and control we have & this directly leads to better bargaining positions. From a policy standpoint, we can attract new jobs by investing resources into our citizens, particularly the employed to make sure that they are enhancing their skillsets because companies will move to Charlotte based on our skilled workforce.
At this present time, we have so many other priorities in our city and county that this does not seem like a wise move. I have a problem funding a sales increase for something like this when our 2019 numbers show we have about 1400 homeless individuals on any given night in Mecklenburg county. I am not saying we need a tax increase right now, but if we did, I am saying it should be used on things that uplift our citizens.