Candidates for Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners

Get ready for Election Day and meet the candidates running for office.

Each local and state candidate was provided a questionnaire to complete and share their position on arts and culture. Below are the responses we received.

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Pat Cotham

Patricia “Pat” Cotham

2016 Candidate for Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners, At-Large

Democrat

Do you support public funding of arts, science, history, and heritage programs by Mecklenburg County through funding of ASC? Please explain your answer.

I support public funding as long as it is balanced throughout the community

Beginning in 2015, Mecklenburg County provided funding through ASC to support the Culture Blocks program. This unique partnership between ASC, Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation, and Charlotte Mecklenburg Library provides cultural programming in neighborhoods with low participation in cultural experiences. This program is not a grant program, but a fee-for-service with program offerings determined by goals articulated by neighborhood residents. Based on the success during the 2015-16 pilot year, the Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners increased funding for Culture Blocks to continue programming in the initial five geographies and expand into one additional geographic area. Do you support continuation of the Culture Blocks program and expansion for all residents of Mecklenburg County?

I have attended some of these event and found them to be very engaging. Meeting residents “where they are” is a good decision. It will produce tangible results.

How would you propose using public art to enhance Mecklenburg County’s image and sense of identity?

I like public art a lot. I am less about enhancing our image and identity and more about it adding beauty and joy to our lives. I like public art that engages children too!

Research has shown that arts education positively affects achievement, discipline, attendance, and graduation rates. Business leaders have indicated that North Carolina’s economy needs a workforce that is not only educated but able to excel in 21st century skills, including innovation and creativity. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg community continues to struggle to fund connecting students to the major cultural institutions through field trips as well as placing cultural programming in all our local schools. How do you propose funding cultural education opportunities for all students in Mecklenburg County? What role does Mecklenburg County have in providing these resources?

You definitely have my full attention with this question but my interest is more about helping our students excel in school. The jobs part will yield better results if we focus on arts education. We are failing in this area. Not long ago I called (incognito) our 42 schools that have middle school age children to find out about music. I was disappointed to learn how poor schools have so little. I usually attend 15 plus graduations in May and affluent white schools have chorus, orchestra and suitable clothing. Poor high schools have a recording and nothing else. The county has a role but so does CMS. We give funds but CMS decides where the money goes. I hear things like “we have to focus on reading” which is true but music and art can add to those skills. Our community needs to learn more about the value of arts on education. It is a critical component. I host Chinese teens every year who live with me and they all play musical instruments and value art-it is a big part of their lives. They all excel in school too. Maybe the ASC can bring the county, CMS and the business community together to work to achieve more education in the arts. Sign me up to volunteer.

Trevor Fuller

Trevor M. Fuller

2016 CANDIDATE FOR MECKLENBURG BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS, AT-LARGE

DEMOCRAT

Do you support public funding of arts, science, history, and heritage programs by Mecklenburg County through funding of ASC? Please explain your answer.

Absolutely. I have always been a strong supporter of the ASC. The aims of the ASC are interwoven into the cultural fabric of Mecklenburg County and as a member of the Board of County Commissioners I will continue to support the ASC.

Beginning in 2015, Mecklenburg County provided funding through ASC to support the Culture Blocks program. This unique partnership between ASC, Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation, and Charlotte Mecklenburg Library provides cultural programming in neighborhoods with low participation in cultural experiences. This program is not a grant program, but a fee-for-service with program offerings determined by goals articulated by neighborhood residents. Based on the success during the 2015-16 pilot year, the Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners increased funding for Culture Blocks to continue programming in the initial five geographies and expand into one additional geographic area. Do you support continuation of the Culture Blocks program and expansion for all residents of Mecklenburg County?

Yes. I was incredibly pleased with the success of the Culture Blocks program and will encourage the Board of County Commissioners to continue to support this fantastic program so that all citizens in Mecklenburg County have the opportunity to take advantage of this fantastic program.

How would you propose using public art to enhance Mecklenburg County’s image and sense of identity?

I am in favor of placing public art in our county’s buildings and parks. We currently have art displayed in several government buildings. Displaying public art in more locations only helps to encourage interest in the arts and the various cultural institutions around the county.

Research has shown that arts education positively affects achievement, discipline, attendance, and graduation rates. Business leaders have indicated that North Carolina’s economy needs a workforce that is not only educated but able to excel in 21st century skills, including innovation and creativity. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg community continues to struggle to fund connecting students to the major cultural institutions through field trips as well as placing cultural programming in all our local schools. How do you propose funding cultural education opportunities for all students in Mecklenburg County? What role does Mecklenburg County have in providing these resources?

The Board of County Commissioners is responsible for funding a large portion of the county’s educational budget and balancing arts funding is important to us. Teaching students about the arts and culture and exposing them at an early age to the wide variety of cultural institutions that our county has to offer is a priority. Research shows that students who have exposure to the arts, science, and culture are better prepared to succeed and use out of the box thinking.

Ella ScarboroughElla B. Scarborough

2016 CANDIDATE FOR MECKLENBURG BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS, AT-LARGE

DEMOCRAT

Do you support public funding of arts, science, history, and heritage programs by Mecklenburg County through funding of ASC? Please explain your answer.

Yes, I totally support the arts

Beginning in 2015, Mecklenburg County provided funding through ASC to support the Culture Blocks program. This unique partnership between ASC, Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation, and Charlotte Mecklenburg Library provides cultural programming in neighborhoods with low participation in cultural experiences. This program is not a grant program, but a fee-for-service with program offerings determined by goals articulated by neighborhood residents. Based on the success during the 2015-16 pilot year, the Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners increased funding for Culture Blocks to continue programming in the initial five geographies and expand into one additional geographic area. Do you support continuation of the Culture Blocks program and expansion for all residents of Mecklenburg County?

Yes!

How would you propose using public art to enhance Mecklenburg County’s image and sense of identity?

I support the reconditions from the ASC professionals!

Research has shown that arts education positively affects achievement, discipline, attendance, and graduation rates. Business leaders have indicated that North Carolina’s economy needs a workforce that is not only educated but able to excel in 21st century skills, including innovation and creativity. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg community continues to struggle to fund connecting students to the major cultural institutions through field trips as well as placing cultural programming in all our local schools. How do you propose funding cultural education opportunities for all students in Mecklenburg County? What role does Mecklenburg County have in providing these resources?

As we support other student programs (sports, science) we MUST also support the Arts.

Marc Friedland

Marc Friedland

2016 CANDIDATE FOR MECKLENBURG BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS, District 5

DEMOCRAT

Do you support public funding of arts, science, history, and heritage programs by Mecklenburg County through funding of ASC? Please explain your answer.

yes!

Beginning in 2015, Mecklenburg County provided funding through ASC to support the Culture Blocks program. This unique partnership between ASC, Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation, and Charlotte Mecklenburg Library provides cultural programming in neighborhoods with low participation in cultural experiences. This program is not a grant program, but a fee-for-service with program offerings determined by goals articulated by neighborhood residents. Based on the success during the 2015-16 pilot year, the Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners increased funding for Culture Blocks to continue programming in the initial five geographies and expand into one additional geographic area. Do you support continuation of the Culture Blocks program and expansion for all residents of Mecklenburg County?

yes

How would you propose using public art to enhance Mecklenburg County’s image and sense of identity?

Public art needs to reflect the diversity of the people who live here.

Research has shown that arts education positively affects achievement, discipline, attendance, and graduation rates. Business leaders have indicated that North Carolina’s economy needs a workforce that is not only educated but able to excel in 21st century skills, including innovation and creativity. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg community continues to struggle to fund connecting students to the major cultural institutions through field trips as well as placing cultural programming in all our local schools. How do you propose funding cultural education opportunities for all students in Mecklenburg County? What role does Mecklenburg County have in providing these resources?

Cultural education is as important as academic education as it builds character. Mecklenburg County needs to include cultural education funding in its budget.

Matthew RidenhourMatthew Ridenhour

2016 CANDIDATE FOR MECKLENBURG BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS, DISTRICT 5

Republican

Do you support public funding of arts, science, history, and heritage programs by Mecklenburg County through funding of ASC? Please explain your answer.

Yes, I believe it is worthwhile for the county to support the ASC. I understand there are challenges in funding the arts and sciences in Mecklenburg County, and I am proud of the support the county shows towards the ASC.

Beginning in 2015, Mecklenburg County provided funding through ASC to support the Culture Blocks program. This unique partnership between ASC, Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation, and Charlotte Mecklenburg Library provides cultural programming in neighborhoods with low participation in cultural experiences. This program is not a grant program, but a fee-for-service with program offerings determined by goals articulated by neighborhood residents. Based on the success during the 2015-16 pilot year, the Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners increased funding for Culture Blocks to continue programming in the initial five geographies and expand into one additional geographic area. Do you support continuation of the Culture Blocks program and expansion for all residents of Mecklenburg County?

Yes, I support the Culture Blocks for all of Mecklenburg County. All residents, in all districts, should have access to these programs.

How would you propose using public art to enhance Mecklenburg County’s image and sense of identity?

Our history is borne of revolution (Captain Jack, the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, etc), and I believe our future is in innovation–which is a revolution, of sorts. I would find ways to highlight the connection between past and future.

Research has shown that arts education positively affects achievement, discipline, attendance, and graduation rates. Business leaders have indicated that North Carolina’s economy needs a workforce that is not only educated but able to excel in 21st century skills, including innovation and creativity. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg community continues to struggle to fund connecting students to the major cultural institutions through field trips as well as placing cultural programming in all our local schools. How do you propose funding cultural education opportunities for all students in Mecklenburg County? What role does Mecklenburg County have in providing these resources?

Ultimately, funding field trips and cultural programming in the schools is up to CMS. Mecklenburg County provides CMS with half of our budget, and it is CMS’ discretion where they spend those dollars. Understanding that CMS has more needs than dollars, and that the business community supports these types of programming, I would look to the business community to continue funding more of these types of initiatives.

Bill JamesBill James

2016 CANDIDATE FOR MECKLENBURG BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS, DISTRICT 6

Republican

Do you support public funding of arts, science, history, and heritage programs by Mecklenburg County through funding of ASC? Please explain your answer.

Yes, to the extent they do NOT raise taxes nor violate public morals. Public dollars limits what the ASC can do with them. If organizations take Public Dollars they also take public rules about morality. Private arts groups can do what they want but those financed by the government cannot.

Beginning in 2015, Mecklenburg County provided funding through ASC to support the Culture Blocks program. This unique partnership between ASC, Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation, and Charlotte Mecklenburg Library provides cultural programming in neighborhoods with low participation in cultural experiences. This program is not a grant program, but a fee-for-service with program offerings determined by goals articulated by neighborhood residents. Based on the success during the 2015-16 pilot year, the Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners increased funding for Culture Blocks to continue programming in the initial five geographies and expand into one additional geographic area. Do you support continuation of the Culture Blocks program and expansion for all residents of Mecklenburg County?

I am fine with the manager including manageable increases for the Cultural sector as long as they do not raise taxes or create a new taxing class. Previously, there was a proposal for a new sales tax dedicated to the arts which I have and will continue to oppose. If by expansion you mean a tax increase, or a new dedicated tax then NO. Government (and those that receive government money) must live within their means. The County cannot be responsible for making up a decrease in contributions.

How would you propose using public art to enhance Mecklenburg County’s image and sense of identity?

We have a public art program (funded with Capital dollars) and it seems to work pretty well. I think we should stick to classic art structures and forms which last. The B of A Fresco is an example of one that I would replicate. I always thought a long fresco mural about the history of Mecklenburg should exist down the long axis of the convention center (above the doors).

Research has shown that arts education positively affects achievement, discipline, attendance, and graduation rates. Business leaders have indicated that North Carolina’s economy needs a workforce that is not only educated but able to excel in 21st century skills, including innovation and creativity. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg community continues to struggle to fund connecting students to the major cultural institutions through field trips as well as placing cultural programming in all our local schools. How do you propose funding cultural education opportunities for all students in Mecklenburg County? What role does Mecklenburg County have in providing these resources?

I do not believe Mecklenburg plays much of a role in school funding of the arts. Arts groups often take tax dollars and use it to fund student trips. During the 2008 Great Recession, those were cut back. Field trips are not as high a priority as directly helping people out of poverty. So, if a recession were to hit, limiting funding for field.


The following candidates for Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners did not submit a response: 

Jeremy Brasch, Republican, At-Large

Jim Puckett, Republican, District 1

George Dunlap, Democrat, District 2

Vilma D. Leake, Democrat, District 3

Dumont Clarke, Democrat, District 4

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