Candidates for the City of Charlotte

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

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

Things to know before you go vote

Candidates for Mayor of Charlotte

Vi Lyles

2017 Candidate for Mayor of Charlotte

Democrat

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), sciences or history while growing up and its impact on you.

Growing up in the segregated south, the arts had an impact on me for it created an equalizing outlet of expression. Music and art have a way of uniting people that is different from science and history and my experiences in forming relationships over these mediums had a great impact on my life. That is why, I have continued in my adult life to support the arts and while working in the budget office worked to create the first community arts plan- because I understand the impact art, sciences and history can have in our community, especially with our youth.

What’s your vision for the city? What role, if any, does arts, science and history play in advancing that vision?

My vision for our city is founded in expanding opportunities for every Charlottean regardless of your zip code. We need to remain focused on affordable housing, expanding economic opportunities and transportation options, while building trust between law enforcement and communities. Arts, science, and history play a critical role as each individually contributes to our future. We are a city that is creative and innovative and we need to continue recruiting the best and brightest through our cultural programs, in addition to also remembering our history.

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

Yes. As Mayor Pro Tem, I recently led the council in unanimously increasing the funding in our FY18 budget by $250,000. I also supported the Out of School Time Grant to support the Studio345 program, so we encourage our high school students to stay in school and pursue their dreams.

What will you do to help build our arts, science and history community and secure a future for creative workspaces in Charlotte?

The role of the Mayor is to create an energy around our city that attracts businesses and people who reflect our values and future. We are a city that values arts, science and history which is why I will continue to work openly with the City Council as we pursue future budgets. Also, I will remain committed to working with the ASC and others such as developers who are committed to creating creative workspaces throughout our city.

National research shows that the arts and cultural sector contributes to quality of life and economic stability. What strategies would you pursue to ensure the continued vitality and growth of the creative economy in our region?

The strategies I would pursue are to continue the positive relationship between organizations like ASC and the City Council. We need to continue building out our public/private partnerships and seeking public input as we move forward with neighborhood-based project grants to ensure they are reflective of our community led agenda. In addition, we need to continue pursuing the strategies and objectives as identified by the 2014 Cultural Vision Plan and Cultural Life Task Force recommendations. Both of these outline our need and ability to stabilize funding as we continue to expand opportunities to every corner of Charlotte.

Kenny Smith

2017 Candidate for Mayor of Charlotte

Republican

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), sciences or history while growing up and its impact on you.

I attended Phantom of The Opera on a study trip while in college. The music was powerful, inspirational and opened my eyes to the world of theater. I remember the performance to this day. My wife and I regularly attend productions in Charlotte as our “date night”, dinner and show. In fact, we will take a few hour break from the campaign to attend Rent later this month.

What’s your vision for the city? What role, if any, does arts, science and history play in advancing that vision?

If Charlotte is going to be a vibrant, 21st Century city, art history and science must be major piece of the puzzle. I believe our city government must stay focused on creating a safe community, with good jobs, safe streets and smarter infrastructure. If the city does its job well, the arts will flourish.

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

As a father, I believe funding for the arts, science, history and heritage programs must be a priority for our schools.

What will you do to help build our arts, science and history community and secure a future for creative workspaces in Charlotte?

Collaboration is key. As a small businessman, I believe we must work to leverage private and philanthropic investment in an environment conducive to the arts and, together, we can continue to see the growth in arts that our city has seen over the past 30 years

National research shows that the arts and cultural sector contributes to quality of life and economic stability. What strategies would you pursue to ensure the continued vitality and growth of the creative economy in our region?

Our city must be safe and we must having a thriving economy. If we can do that, we’ll have a city where public, private and philanthropic arts and sciences flourish. I support maintaining existing funding levels for the arts, city participation in capital repairs/upgrades for venues and working with the private sector to increase civic participation.

Candidates for Charlotte City Council, District 1

Larken Egleston

2017 Candidate for Charlotte City Council, District 1

Democrat

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), sciences or history while growing up and its impact on you.

The first time I saw Ben Harper in concert was in 2000 at the Wait Chapel on the campus of Wake Forest University. It was less than a week after one of my best friends, Katie, who was supposed to attend the show with me, passed away. I wasn’t going to go, but had been convinced by her family that I should. The setting, the circumstances as well as the power of the music and his voice was as religious a musical experience as I’ve ever had. He has been one of my favorite artists ever since.

What’s your vision for the city? What role, if any, does arts, science and history play in advancing that vision?

The arts are something I believe should be accessible to all citizens of Charlotte; when the arts are available to all, it can serve as a great equalizer. A strong arts community also attracts and retains the talented individuals and companies our city wants to appeal to. We cannot be a world-class city without a robust arts community.

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

Yes. Not only should there be public funding for the Arts & Science Council, but local government should continue to push for inclusion of public works of art in all projects it is involved with. I want to see more outward-facing projects from the arts community that invite in folks who might not otherwise be exposed to them, and I believe local government should be a partner in that effort.

What will you do to help build our arts, science and history community and secure a future for creative workspaces in Charlotte?

The city must fight to preserve more of our existing built environment. Existing structures (old mills, corner stores, etc.) are more affordable, have more character/personality, and make perfect spaces for housing creative arts endeavors in our community. I would also like to see builders create housing stock for artists that incorporates both work/live elements and would be zoned such that artists to have studio/gallery space where they live.

National research shows that the arts and cultural sector contributes to quality of life and economic stability. What strategies would you pursue to ensure the continued vitality and growth of the creative economy in our region?

As mentioned, I support public funding of the Arts & Science Council. I also want to use my position as an elected official to bring more attention to the arts initiatives in my district and the city as a whole. I will also encourage builders/developers to incorporate public art into their projects whenever possible, with a preference for local artists to execute that work.

Candidates for Charlotte City Council, District 2

Pete Givens, Republican  Candidate for District 2, did not submit a response. 

Justin Harlow

2017 Candidate for Charlotte City Council, District 2

Democrat

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), sciences or history while growing up and its impact on you.

My whole educational experience as a teenager was built around the arts. I went to a performing arts high school. I was in the band and played all brass instruments while participating in the marching, concert and jazz bands. My school embraced self expression through music, drama and visual display. Those experiences helped me become the open minded, progressive, and inclusive person I am today. It helped me learn that everyone has a story within and how we share those stories is what makes us unique.

What’s your vision for the city? What role, if any, does arts, science and history play in advancing that vision?

My city is for Charlotte to be an attractive city to families, students, seniors, and businesses. No one demographic should feel excluded from being able to thrive in our growing metropolis. The arts, creative spaces, and the sciences can easily be catalysts for making Charlotte the most attractive, world class city it has the potential to be. Creative place-making, storytelling, visual media all help connect people to places and to history. Without it, we are stifling our own economy and growth.

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

I do support public funding for arts, science, history, and heritage programs. ASC and its partnerships with neighborhood associations, libraries, and other agencies create initiatives that foster collective learning between individuals and groups that otherwise may not ever be in the same room with each other.

What will you do to help build our arts, science and history community and secure a future for creative workspaces in Charlotte?

First I will try to do more with restoring historic landmarks. Charlotte has lots of history tied to its historic buildings and as the city grows, we need to look at adaptive reuse of those spaces. With any new development or project, I will ask the question of how are we honoring our past and embracing the history of the location, people and culture of the space. From this we can create more events like art crawls and communal dinners.

National research shows that the arts and cultural sector contributes to quality of life and economic stability. What strategies would you pursue to ensure the continued vitality and growth of the creative economy in our region?

We need to build neighborhood centers – gathering places central to each neighborhood that allow for eat/work/play environments. Cultural and arts centers are great for unity of communities and also encourage interaction among neighbors, businesses outside of their own homes and workplaces. We must change our focus from the center city only, and look at creating spaces that support neighborhood and communities right where they are.

Candidates for Charlotte City Council, District 3

Daniel Herrera, Republican Candidate for District 3, did not submit a response. 

LaWana Mayfield

2017 Candidate for Charlotte City Council, District 3

Democrat

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), sciences or history while growing up and its impact on you.

I am a former Spoken Word artist who also previously performed in live plays.

What’s your vision for the city? What role, if any, does arts, science and history play in advancing that vision?

Many years ago Charlotte Arts and Science community was well funded through public and private donors. I believe we have an opportunity with millineals to revive our financial support.

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

As a current City Council member I voted for the the additional $200,000 request to ASC

What will you do to help build our arts, science and history community and secure a future for creative workspaces in Charlotte?

I have participated on the Artist Panel Selection Committee for art at CLT-Airport, I worked hard to move live arts to Freedom Dr by way of Actors Theatre of Charlotte.

National research shows that the arts and cultural sector contributes to quality of life and economic stability. What strategies would you pursue to ensure the continued vitality and growth of the creative economy in our region?

Now is the time to think outside the box and utilize the increase of new residents to the area to market the benefits of a diverse cultural scene.

Candidates for Charlotte City Council, District 4

Greg Phipps

2017 Candidate for Charlotte City Council, District 4

Democrat

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), sciences or history while growing up and its impact on you.

A 3rd grade field trip to Washington, DC included a theatre presentation of the “Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm.” I was mesmerized to the point of listening to the soundtrack in class every chance I got. A slow reader at the time, I believe interest in Grimm fairytales lit a spark in my passion for reading that lasts to this day.

What’s your vision for the city? What role, if any, does arts, science and history play in advancing that vision?

I want to solidify Charlotte’s quality of life image as a great place to live, work, play, and raise a family. As Charlotte is growing rapidly, with 45-people a day moving here from other places, it is critical that arts, science, history and culture keep pace. To retain its vibrancy, Charlotte must embrace a sustainable arts and science culture that meets the expectations of a growing diverse community.

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

Most definitely! As far back as 2005, I was an enthusiastic supporter of the “cultural campus” initiative that funded improvements, new construction, and relocations at Discovery Place, AfroAm (Gantt Center), Mint and Bechtler Museums. More recently, as Budget Committee Chair, I supported additional funding for ASC that was approved unanimously by the full Council.

What will you do to help build our arts, science and history community and secure a future for creative workspaces in Charlotte?

As a councilmember, I will continue to support arts project funding that transform Charlotte’s cultural amenities and physical facilities. Funding to support ASC programming will also be a continuing priority to ensure more exposure to the arts for all to enjoy.

National research shows that the arts and cultural sector contributes to quality of life and economic stability. What strategies would you pursue to ensure the continued vitality and growth of the creative economy in our region?

We need to continue our aggressive approach to secure adequate funding of the arts by all sectors. Mobility Task Force recommendations implore us to start early to integrate arts and cultural exposure to children to light a spark to promote lifelong learning and enjoyment that arts and sciences provide. More cultural offerings for a rapidly growing community will ensure a steady pipeline of activity that will spur investment from both the private and public sectors.

Candidates for Charlotte City Council, District 5

Matt Newton, democrat candidate for district 5, did not submit a response. 

Candidates for Charlotte City Council, District 6

Tariq Scott Bokhari, Republican Candidate for District 6, did not submit a response.

Sam Grundman

2017 Candidate for Charlotte City Council, District 6

Democrat

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), sciences or history while growing up and its impact on you.

Respondent skipped this question

What’s your vision for the city? What role, if any, does arts, science and history play in advancing that vision?

I want to make Charlotte more walkable and people friendly. Engaging public art and parks is a crucial need for this goal.

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

Yes, we need to support science, history, and heritage programs to make our city great and we need art to make our city unique and inviting.

What will you do to help build our arts, science and history community and secure a future for creative workspaces in Charlotte?

We need to keep our city walkable and connected by public transit and to reform our zoning ordinances to allow individuals and small businesses to build and contribute to interesting places and neighborhoods where art and walking can flourish.

National research shows that the arts and cultural sector contributes to quality of life and economic stability. What strategies would you pursue to ensure the continued vitality and growth of the creative economy in our region?

We need to reform our zoning ordinances so that our neighborhoods are inviting, that get people walking from place to place instead of always resorting to their cars, that get people to see each other face-to-face and can then start to interact as people and not always as drivers. We need to reform our zoning so individuals and small businesses can build buildings with small footprints to create the interesting architecture and juxtaposition on a human-scale streetscape that attracts people to walk and provide places for our arts and culture to flourish.

Jeff Scott

2017 Candidate for Charlotte City Council, District 6

Libertarian

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), sciences or history while growing up and its impact on you.

Growing up in Southern California, my artistic interests were music and film. My misspent youth included long hours of listening to the Rolling Stones, who I thought were not only good, but important. In high school, I bought and sold bootlegs (i.e., illegally produced recordings), I briefly became a DJ at a local radio station, and I finagled concert tickets in exchange for writing reviews in the north San Diego county newspaper. As school came to an end, I launched a series of unsuccessful music business partnerships [<cough> garage bands] while continuing film and film-making classes at a local community college. I recall rewriting a scene of the movie Deliverance for a professor who thought the actual movie script didn’t work. I worked with Super 8 film and won a 2nd place prize in a local library film festival for a 5-minute short. On reflection, this period made it clear that I had, and still have, a hunger for artistic experience for personal entertainment and enlightenment. My horizons have broadened considerably since then.

What’s your vision for the city? What role, if any, does arts, science and history play in advancing that vision?

As a newcomer to Charlotte and a resident of District 6, my campaign is geared toward addressing the anxiety of success. Charlotte is a very well run and dynamic city and I have entered the race more as a fan than a critic. Many other cities envy our personal, business and cultural climate. Yet the downside of that is clear in the minds of the voters whom I have spoken to. I have heard current and longtime residents raise the issues of crime, traffic, overcrowding, overbuilding and dislocation. Many other cities are going through the same thing. I have been through big city growing pains before, in San Francisco and Oakland, where I lived most of my adult life. I am suited to bring thoughtful ideas to end partisan rancor and advance the quality of life in the city. As a third-party candidate, I can work best with the two parties and hold firm on the ground of preserving personal expression and freedom, and advancing sound financial policies, free of cronyism and favoritism. Our city became a national poster child for feverish bickering, and I will put myself in position to offer thoughtful management of the unwieldy extremes of progressives and social conservatives.
My vision for the city’s arts, sciences and history is geared to the condition of the arts, more so than science and history. My strength as an elected representative will be to fight for the continued appreciation and health of the fine and popular arts. My father worked at the SF Opera for the last 30 years, and my sister owns her own dance company. My daughter goes to Northwest School of the Arts, and my son is a fabricator and designer. My wife was a regional artist who has several ceramic mosaic installations around town, including the government center. Her final project is proceeding briskly near East Meck high, at MoRA, and I have been her constant partner in the sculpture business.
Charlotte is changing very rapidly and unfortunately, that further complicates the role of artistic and cultural stewardship. Since I have come to the city, I have seen three live theater companies close or be forced out: CAST, QCTC, and ATC, the latter still struggling to find a location. Plus, I have seen three music venues close: Tremont, Amos’ and Double Door. As an economist, I understand the pressures and poor planning that lead to turmoil in real estate and subsequent frustrations from venue operators. I would work to eliminate the kinds of economic distortions that lead to very uneconomic dislocations. The idea that a somewhat historic 40-year old blues bar that still serves $5 beers could get razed in this town without the blink of an eye shocks even me. My sense of social harmony can be disarrayed too, so I am empathetic to those who view these instances of loss through the prism of gentrification. We have lost things that are irreplaceable.
As a private citizen, I am a voracious consumer of the arts. I attend music venues, large and small, the Charlotte Ballet (amazing company), the Mint and Bechtler, local theater (go ATC!), and of course, the Broadway shows (I’ve seen Les Miz 20 times). To a lesser extent, I have attended shows at the symphony, the opera, spoken word events and some smaller dance company events. One of the sad days of the summer was when I found out that Glenn Garvin, the great director of QCTC, left to study in the U.K.

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

Since questions 5, 6 and 7 are interrelated I will answer them together.
Nearly all the members of my family, noted above, have been beneficiaries in one form or another, of public funding. I would benefit personally from broad public tax support from all the tax payers in the city. I would like that. But there must be a better way for a potential elected official to register commitment to the arts other than promising to commit public funds. Art, as critical as it is and has been to my life, is not a public utility in the traditional sense. I cannot in good conscience spread the costs of that to people who cannot afford it and do not choose to buy it on their own. Although I believe everyone is capable of benefitting from and appreciating many forms of art, I don’t believe that general revenues should be used for that purpose.
The school system has a constituency for the support of art teaching, and that is one model. The schools have the option of raising money separately to deepen or broaden their programs; in my family’s case, my wife was an art teacher in California, and she was supported financially by a local parents group.
One practical way to boost cultural spending in the private sector is for the city to provide leaner permitting and zoning, to do what it can as an ombudsman to smooth the restrictions. Artistic people, as we know, are not necessarily savvy about how to pitch their ideas and get their projects off the ground. Those skills can make a big difference in opening new music and dance venues, galleries, public art spaces, temporary exhibits, and so on. Can the city provide service paths to success more than it is already? I don’t know the answer to that, but if I am elected, I most certainly will find out.
The spending of general tax dollars for arts can’t be sold to the public as a means to create broader benefits, any more than any other transaction that a city or state makes. The benefits of experiencing art are clear to me, but I don’t want to force my preferences on others who do not see the utility in consuming art. Economists who argue that “spending” on arts (or military, or infrastructure, etc.) is a productive activity and creates economic benefits broadly are simply wrong. Cities and states are consumers of private capital, not stewards, since they have no way to measure profit or loss. I am skeptical of any national study that shows contrary to all common sense that a tax dollar removed from the private economy is better spent, and is more useful, when performed by the state. The consumption of art, via private consumer spending, or sponsor, or foundation grants, is an end, and to the extent that it signals real demand, it spurs on additional activity. We all benefit from that system of private calculation.
To make matters more complicated in the arts, there is the issue of neutrality. Spending of public money on objects of public or private contemplations is fraught with downsides. Artists should disturb others. They should work to rearrange your thoughts and emotions and take you out of your comfort zone. Art should not be merely challenging, but outrageous, provocative, bordering on the vile and dark. To shy away from that boldness is to retreat to the Hallmark card standard of art. If no one is mad at it, or for it, is it really art? Leave that blasé stuff behind. As an elected official, I can’t ask taxpayers to pony up money for what they find offensive or distasteful, or what they might see or hear to overturn their worldview, as much as I would like them to have that experience.
The funding model of the future will be like the model we have now, namely, sponsorship and foundations. New forms of sponsorship are evolving, such as crowd funding, but even that crowd-sourced funding methods will be changing. Funding and development can be made more accountable with the implementation of smarter contracting and finely-tuned collaboration. There will be, in a very short time, an “Uber/Airbnb” for artists and publishers to better manage their time and resources, including creative workspaces. My wife’s business model opened my own eyes to how projects can be managed by those with the vision to use all the available materials, financial and technical, at their disposal.
I have no doubt in my mind that art and culture is the foundation for the quality of life, especially in a growing city where the new rat race seems like the old rat race we left behind. North Carolina has a long way to go, and Charlotte must not just a beacon for business, but a magnet for creativity. We also have a special duty to the re-focus the generation growing up around us that is tied to their use of technology. In some respects, the technology addiction of the millennials is a disabler rather than an enabler. Leslie Scott said that we need to constantly reengage and get people away from their isolation and regenerate their humanity through the world of art.
For a dynamic city like Charlotte, every day is a new day to start over.

What will you do to help build our arts, science and history community and secure a future for creative workspaces in Charlotte?

See above

National research shows that the arts and cultural sector contributes to quality of life and economic stability. What strategies would you pursue to ensure the continued vitality and growth of the creative economy in our region?

See above.

Candidates for Charlotte City Council, District 7

Ed Driggs, Republican Candidate for District 7, did not submit a response.

Sharon Roberts

2017 Candidate for Charlotte City Council, District 7

Democrat

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), sciences or history while growing up and its impact on you.

In 7th grade music class, the teacher played a piece and asked us to write down as many instruments as we could identify, and write down what we thought the music was expressing at different points. The fact that I still remember what we listened to, “Grand Canyon Suite,” is testament to the impact it had on me. I had never thought about listening for individual instruments or how you could “compose” a thunderstorm. I took piano lessons from age 7-13, and took it back up in college, adding music theory courses “for fun.” I can’t say for sure that the middle-school experience led to my continued interest a wide variety of music, but I think it did. My children have had meaningful experiences as well: One of my daughters is pursuing a master’s degree in music theory and the other danced competitively and attended the Northwest School of the Arts for dance in middle school.

What’s your vision for the city? What role, if any, does arts, science and history play in advancing that vision?

My vision for the city is a united Charlotte, one in which, at times, hard and politically unpopular decisions are made for the benefit of the whole, which in turn benefits each of us. Arts, science and history inspire us and help create a sense of community, which is essential to my vision.

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

I do. I do believe, though, the amount of funding has to be balanced against the city’s other needs.

What will you do to help build our arts, science and history community and secure a future for creative workspaces in Charlotte?

Primarily by educating myself as to where current and future needs are to ensure continued success and working with the ASC to find creative solutions.

National research shows that the arts and cultural sector contributes to quality of life and economic stability. What strategies would you pursue to ensure the continued vitality and growth of the creative economy in our region?

Keeping myself informed about issues affecting the arts and cultural sectors and helping to create solutions to problems that may arise. It’s important for the arts and cultural sector to thrive and grow to meet both our residents’ needs, and those of companies and employees who have moved, or are considering moving, here.

Candidates for Charlotte City Council, At-Large

Dimple Ajmera

2017 Candidate for Charlotte City Council, At-Large

Democrat

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), sciences or history while growing up and its impact on you.

I immigrated to Unites States from India at the age of 16 so the influence , education and enjoyment of Classic Indian Dance remains very important to my life.

What’s your vision for the city? What role, if any, does arts, science and history play in advancing that vision?

Art helps us imagine new possibilities. Art moves us, it inspires us, and it helps us grow. That’s why I will fight to ensure arts programs in Charlotte don’t get cut even if state lawmakers decide to set new limits that would make class sizes smaller. I consider our local art scene to be one of the radiant jewels the Queen City’s crowns.

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

Yes .Absolutely ! Music, Dance, Visual Arts and Creative Writing education should be made available, encouraged , celebrated and showcased around the Charlotte area. It can focus and even change a life.

What will you do to help build our arts, science and history community and secure a future for creative workspaces in Charlotte?

Public / Private Partnerships. Encourage creative workspaces throughout Charlotte.

National research shows that the arts and cultural sector contributes to quality of life and economic stability. What strategies would you pursue to ensure the continued vitality and growth of the creative economy in our region?

My overall goals are a prosperous economic environment throughout the city, good infrastructure to keep up with the growth and safety and trust in our community. We must also strive to create and fund arts education at an early age and continually encourage and showcase talent through High School.

Parker Cains, Republican Candidate for At-Large, did not submit a response. 

Steven J. DiFiore II

2017 Candidate for Charlotte City Council, At-Large

Libertarian

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), sciences or history while growing up and its impact on you.

Like many children I was fascinated by the natural world and often tromped the woods and fields behind my childhood home in the Adirondacks searching for interesting arthropods and angiosperms to bring back to my room for further study under a magnifying glass or microscope. This of course was to the dismay of my parents due to my propensity to litter the house with insects, crayfish, and dried flowers. My father enclosed a section of our front porch as a make-shift lab for my ‘experiments’ which allowed my love of science and scientific inquiry to blossom. Some of my fondest childhood memories involve watching frog eggs grow, hatch, and metamorphose, or marvel at a monarch butterfly emerging from its chrysalis; All the while writing down notes in my notebook like the enlightenment scientists I idolized as a child.
As a teenage I became enamored with the performing arts and with little athletic aptitude I gravitated toward the drama club and band. I was incredibly fortunate that my school, AVCS, had one of the best music programs in the region and a dedicated faculty to put together a terrific drama program. A number of my cherished memories from that time were made in band or during drama season. When it comes to history, growing up in the Adirondacks, I was surrounded by colonial homesteads, revolutionary war battle sites, and the odd war of 1812 reenactment. Growing up around such things has instilled a great love and respect for our nation’s history and heritage.

What’s your vision for the city? What role, if any, does arts, science and history play in advancing that vision?

Like many Charlotteans I migrated here from up north, and one of the things that drew me here was its cultural scene, which has only grown in scale and variety since then. My vision for the city would be for it to continue to grow and develop, becoming a destination for people all across the state and country, to pursue their careers and start families. A vibrant and dynamic city needs a vibrant and dynamic cultural and artistic environment. As the beneficiary of a robust arts program in school, I’ll be an advocate for similar programs and initiatives across Charlotte. With as many community groups and non-profits as we have here, the opportunities are many and varied.

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

As a Libertarian and fiscal conservative I’m leery of using tax money for special interests. While the value of the arts is intrinsic, I’m not convinced that if others have a different opinion that they ought to be forced to pay for something they find of little value. That being said, public money for specific initiatives that promote the common good are something I’m in favor of.

As an example: I WOULD BE in support of funding to public school initiatives and programs so children in underserved communities could enjoy the same opportunities to explore arts, science, and history that I enjoyed as a youth. I WOULD NOT BE in support of using public funds to purchase a public arts installation such as a sculpture or mural, UNLESS, it had some pertinent and immediate historical value. (A mural or statue in commemoration of some renowned local historical figure or event for example)

What will you do to help build our arts, science and history community and secure a future for creative workspaces in Charlotte?

I’m not only a proponent for the arts, sciences, and history but a beneficiary of an education in these things as well. You’d be hard pressed to find a greater advocate and fan of these subjects. With partnerships between communities, non-profits, and advocacy groups, I’m confident we can ensure our city’s youth will continue to have access to an arts, science, and history education. In this way we can help to foster the appreciation necessary for these aspects of our local culture to thrive and grow.

National research shows that the arts and cultural sector contributes to quality of life and economic stability. What strategies would you pursue to ensure the continued vitality and growth of the creative economy in our region?

Charlotte is now, and will likely continue to be a hub of economic and cultural development. I want to help ensure our city remains a competitive location for business and entrepreneurship. A thriving arts and cultural sector can only exist on the back of a thriving economy and in the context of a well-educated population. Keeping the city’s focus on maintaining Charlotte as a prime destination for people and business, while making the needed investments in infrastructure and public safety, will ensure that our citizens enjoy the prosperity required to continue to enrich our communities with the boons of the creative economy.

Julie Eiselt

2017 Candidate for Charlotte City Council, At-Large

Democrat

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), sciences or history while growing up and its impact on you.

In high school I was rather introverted. I joined drama club and loved being in musicals. I got to sing… without worrying about how perfect my voice sounded! It gave me confidence and a group to hang with. It helped me to take risks later in life. That serves me well even today.

What’s your vision for the city? What role, if any, does arts, science and history play in advancing that vision?

Everything we do, every policy we approve on Council, must be through the lense of broadening access to opportunity for all people. Economic Development can only be successful if our policies are inclusive and bring all people along. The Arts/Science/History are an integral part of giving people access to opportunity. More importantly, the A/S/H are an also an integral part of economic development – people move here and stay here because of what our city has to offer. Any city that is growing and prospering in America, has a thriving arts community.

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

I believe I have been the strongest advocate on the City Council, for public funding for the A/S/H and Heritage programs. I have made the case to my council colleagues as to the importance of funding these areas as a means to broaden opportunity to all people, in particular those that would otherwise not have access to cultural offerings.

What will you do to help build our arts, science and history community and secure a future for creative workspaces in Charlotte?

As the Council ASC board member, I will continue to promote programming to my colleagues and encourage their support. My husband and I are patrons of a number of cultural groups and will continue to be both financial and participatory supporters of various programming.

National research shows that the arts and cultural sector contributes to quality of life and economic stability. What strategies would you pursue to ensure the continued vitality and growth of the creative economy in our region?

Again, by promoting the importance of the arts and cultural sector to my council colleagues as I have done in the past, as a means to broaden economic opportunity. I help get the message out by posting and retweeting events. Any time I have the opportunity, I try to promote the great cultural offerings happening in Charlotte!

James “Smuggie” Mitchell

2017 Candidate for Charlotte City Council, At-Large

Democrat

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), sciences or history while growing up and its impact on you.

Growing up I was not exposed to much African-American history. To remedy that I started the Black History Quiz Bowl for Project LIFT schools in Charlotte and my alma mater, West Charlotte.

What’s your vision for the city? What role, if any, does arts, science and history play in advancing that vision?

My passion is for creating jobs and keeping the community safe. When the community thrives, the arts thrives. I fully believe that in order to push Charlotte forward we must embrace the arts. I led the charge to give the Carolina Theater to the Foundation for the Carolinas for$1.00. As a member of City Council, I helped secure $4.5 million worth of funding to renovate the Carolina Theater. With that the City will get a historic place that can be used for the arts and to host community dialogues.

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

Absolutely. I owe a lot to Mattie Marshall and Aaron Mckeithan for educating me on the importance of having art in our city and thats why I’ve always supported corridor funding for the arts.

What will you do to help build our arts, science and history community and secure a future for creative workspaces in Charlotte?

Economic development and a strong public private partnership are two of my passions. Every time I can include art in the things we do as a city I jump at the opportunity. One of the prime examples is the Rosa Parks transit center on Beatties Ford Road that I helped create as a representative for District 2. Incorporating art into public policy is important.

National research shows that the arts and cultural sector contributes to quality of life and economic stability. What strategies would you pursue to ensure the continued vitality and growth of the creative economy in our region?

As we make plans for future corridor development we earmark a certain percent for a display of public art. I would like it to spotlight the fantastic artist and creators that Charlotte has so that they can showcase their talent. It’s a win-win for the city.

John K. Powell, Jr.

2017 Candidate for Charlotte City Council, At-Large

Republican

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), sciences or history while growing up and its impact on you.

Throughout my life, the Arts has always been an important part of my life. As a native son, my experience first began the Nature Museum at Freedom Park. Music was first introduced into my life in church, where Loonis McGlohon was our music director and friend. This legacy continued with Rick Bean.

As an 11 year old, our family moved to Spain. Flamenco jam sessions and dance influenced me greatly. Saxophonist Stan Getz was a neighbor, and he shared his music with us.

We continue to enjoy the Arts by attending events at the Bechtler Museum, Spirit Square and the Harvey B. Gantt Center.

What’s your vision for the city? What role, if any, does arts, science and history play in advancing that vision?

Empower both the Arts and History. Both disciplines enable all of us to learn and grow.

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

Yes, as all are an important cornerstone of our community. Without support we lose our knowledge of the past and the vision of our future.

What will you do to help build our arts, science and history community and secure a future for creative workspaces in Charlotte?

Encourage those businesses that are moving / relocating to Charlotte to invest in these key organizations. If incentives are accepted by these companies, they (the companies) can and should reinvest in our community.

National research shows that the arts and cultural sector contributes to quality of life and economic stability. What strategies would you pursue to ensure the continued vitality and growth of the creative economy in our region?

I would ask you to refer to my answer in Question 6.

Braxton Winston II

2017 Candidate for Charlotte City Council, At-Large

Democrat

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), sciences or history while growing up and its impact on you.

My life has has been heavily impacted by the arts. Since my days of growing up in NYC The arts have been part of my life. Whether it was going to shows at Brooklyn Academy of Music to spending the weekends at any number of museums the city had to offer. In high school I began explored theater. The greatest day of my high school career was the day I won the football championship in the afternoon and performed the lead roll in our black box performance of Shakespeare’s Corioulanus in the evening. Today I support my family with wages earned in the arts community of Charlotte. I have been a proud union stagehand since 2004. I survive off the growing Broadway, concert, and event economy that we are cultivating here in Charlotte.

What’s your vision for the city? What role, if any, does arts, science and history play in advancing that vision?

I am running for Charlotte City Council At-Large to provide the effective leadership in governance that Charlotteans have been demanding. I am willing to face the systemic inequities of our past while harnessing the qualities that make us one of the fastest growing cities in America. I believe in the philosophy of civic virtue – the willingness to do all necessary tasks to ensure that vital roles of a representative government are being carried out. The most important resource our city has to offer is our people. It is the role of a representative government to ensure that the good of the people is at the forefront of society’s focus, especially marginalized and vulnerable sections of our population. My unique background, experience, and ability to communicate between diverse groups qualify me to be a steward of the will of the people. I believe in Charlotte. I have experienced the willingness of Charlotteans to do the tough work and have the difficult conversations. I am ready to build the bridges to help Charlotte attain its full potential of what a modern American and international city looks like.
Art is the common ground. As a student of Anthropology I know that cultures are measured by the art that they produce. If we want to continue to be a growing worldly city we must support our various arts community. We want people to come here because of the opportunities they will be able to take advantage of. They will stay because of the culture we are able to create.

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

Yes. One of the frustrating parts of the arts community is that so many artists rely on private funding. While people who work hard and earn enough to be patrons of the arts should have the freedom and ability to choose where their resources go this often leads to silos of resources where new, emerging, small, and minority artists don’t get equity in access to make their art. When “worth” is selected by the few we run into so many issues. Public funding of the arts provides a chance at democratizing access to art and expression. In the crazy world that we live in we need more thoughtful and engaging people to interact in our community. Public funding of the arts can greatly help make that a reality.

What will you do to help build our arts, science and history community and secure a future for creative workspaces in Charlotte?

We need to find more opportunities for local artists to display their work in a way that also helps them pay their bills. Like so many other professions we have to find ways to anchor artists in the communities they work and live. Too much of our development displaces artists thereby sterilizing the neighborhoods that arts once made so “cool.” We must find ways to partner with CMS and the county to supplement arts instruction and artist community interaction within our schools. We must show young people that having strong skills in the arts, science,and history areas can provide you with a strong foundation to be successful in the marketplace. We know this can not happen without strong intergenerational relationships and mentorships.

National research shows that the arts and cultural sector contributes to quality of life and economic stability. What strategies would you pursue to ensure the continued vitality and growth of the creative economy in our region?

Our city is a canvass. There is no public space that art and culture shouldn’t be on full display. Many of the systemic issues that Charlotte faces can be sources from the history of our city going back hundreds of years. The biggest problem is that too many Charlotteans are not informed or knowledgable of where/what our culture is actually rooted in. Its is the job of our arts and cultural sectors to get our citizens up to the task of reckoning with our past so we can make better decisions moving forward.

David Michael Rice, Republican Candidate for At-Large, did not submit a response. 

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