Y'all Weekly #9: The 2023 Charlotte City Council Elections have begun
Matt lists his top movies of 2022, Jesse reports on a major LKN arts opening, and Sam offers St. Louis recommendations for locals making the trip for Charlotte FC's first 2023 away match.
In our last issue, we launched our “Queen New Deal” series about policy proposals for Charlotte. Since then, a lot has happened in city politics - the CATS bus drivers voted to strike, the Charlotte City Council approved the Chick-fil-A we wrote about in November, and the 2023 campaign for Charlotte mayor and city council kicked off with a new poll in the field about major political personalities and the idea of non-partisan elections:
Compared to other cities around 1 million people, Charlotte doesn’t act like a big city when it comes to politics. Candidates for district city council seats typically spend thousands of dollars on their races - in peer cities, that amount can be in the tens or hundreds of thousands. Good polling costs a lot of money, so it’s rare to see opinion polls in the field at any point in the race, much less in January.
The poll - a Y’all Weekly exclusive thanks to a source - tested the favorability of Mayor Vi Lyles, Mayor Pro Tem Braxton Winston, councilmember and former state senator Malcolm Graham, former Governor Pat McCrory, county commissioner Pat Cotham, councilmember Ed Driggs, and former state senator Joel Ford.
Interestingly, it asked a lot of questions about independent or unaffiliated candidates, and whether or not voters think it’s time for Lyles to pass the baton.
If this January poll is any indication, it’s going to be a busy year on Charlotte’s political scene. We’d argue it needs to be given the gravity of the issues Charlotte faces.
In this issue:
Our prince of popcorn Matt Cramer is back with “Matt at the Movies: Top 10 Films of 2022.” Another local publication recently started reviewing films, so Matt must be doing something right.
Jesse Kimmel reports the long-awaited “Cain Center Opens in Cornelius.” It’s a welcome addition to greater Charlotte’s arts landscape that bills itself as "the Lake Norman region’s new home for inspiration, creativity, and community."
In a travel/sports mashup, I cover some of the top places to visit in “A CLTFC Fan’s Guide to St. Louis.” On March 4, Charlotte FC will travel to St. Louis for their first away match of the season, but as a St. Louis native I hope fans stick around and enjoy everything the Lou has to offer.
Thanks for reading!
Speaking of popcorn and movies, the Independent Picture House is offering free popcorn on National Popcorn Day, Thursday, January 19:
Second, congratulations to our holiday giveaway winners, some of whom got deliveries from Geoffrey the Pink Robot thanks to tinymile.ai:
If you reply to this email and ask for free stuff, who knows what might happen? Previous winners please wait 3 months - and don’t forget to tag your swag on social media!
Most of us at The Y’all drink way too much coffee, so much so that we thought there was nothing new under the sun. However, the Foxy Brown Latte at Archive CLT may be the best new coffee drink in Charlotte. Pictured iced, we recommend it hot with oat milk:
On the Record
Each week, Y’all Weekly brings you exclusive on-the-record quote from a local leader about a big issue facing Charlotte or the Carolinas. Today’s quote is from District Attorney Spencer Merriweather, from his swearing-in speech on January 3, 2023:
I have learned something from the last 4 to 5 years, and my reasons for seeking office are a bit more nuanced than they were before. For me, the questions raised by the trials and challenges of the last 4 years are best encapsulated by a speech Dr. Martin Luther King gave the day before he died.
Many of you will know that speech as “the Mountaintop Speech,” as it is best known for its last stanza and its eulogy-like and ascending pledge of getting to the Promised Land as a Whole People. But what was striking for me in that speech after listening to it recently, during a time of recent challenge, came minutes before its glorious end.
Dr. King offered his interpretation of the parable of the Good Samaritan. In charitably explaining the behavior of those who notoriously did not stop to help the robbed and beaten traveler, Dr. King suggested those passersby were just afraid, worn down by their fear of circumstances.
King said, “they worried about ‘What would happen to them’ if they stopped and helped that victim?” But then Dr. King went on to identify the remarkable majesty of the alternative morality that drove the Good Samaritan, asking: “If I don’t stop and help that victim, what will happen to him?”
As hard as my days have been as DA, as hard as it has been for me to watch what [assistant district attorneys and staff] had to endure in this work, this is the question that haunts me - haunts us - into putting one foot in front of the other, on behalf of others, even in this most complex of times.
Because, if we’re not here to meet this moment with our values of empathy, fairness, equity, and justice, what will happen to our community? The strength of our communities depends on the availability and permanency of those committed to do this public good.
This Week’s Stories
Charlotte urbanists, cyclists, and transit advocates have been rightfully angry due to multiple automobile fatalities in the span of a week. Kristie Crowder was hit and killed by a car while riding a bike in Plaza Midwood on January 5. On January 11th, Amanda Hopkins was hit and killed by a car on the same street. Edwin Orlando García Vigil, Miguel Ángel Portillo Arias, Mercedes Arturo García, and Kevin Turcios all lost their lives in a car crash on I-85 last week.
While local advocates tweeted out memorials and GoFundMe links, NC House Speaker Tim Moore added fuel to the fire when he dismissed the efficacy of bike lanes, complete streets, and transit during a visit to the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance in Uptown.
The immediate response from some urbanists was vitriolic, with one response to Steve Harrison’s tweet above saying Moore threw not cold water but “warm blood” on the plan. Naturally, after a bunch of frustration was voiced on Twitter, the discussion became perhaps too meta:
The exchange begs an important question: what is the best way to work with people who you disagree with in order to achieve your policy goals?
In private conversations with Republican staff and elected officials, I’m often told mutual respect would go a long way to bring both parties to the table. On the other hand, many polices coming out of the General Assembly are direct, dehumanizing assaults on the LGBTQ community and reproductive freedom.
It’s an urgent question, especially since our current policies mean another six Charlotte residents are no longer with us.
May their memories be for a blessing.
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