Gay man seeks to replace Burgess on Charlotte council

Former candidate Owen Sutkowski among 24 applicants for appointment

by Matt Comer  Editor  editor@goqnotes.com
Published: June 12, 2010 in News

CHARLOTTE — After former Charlotte City Councilmember and Mayor Pro Tem Susan Burgess announced her resignation from the council June 8, she urged her colleagues to appoint her son, Jason, to finish her term.

Owen Sutkowski, left, speaks with a supporter at a 2009 MeckPAC reception.

Burgess, 64, is currently under hospice care. She had surgery for colorectal cancer in 2007.

After her resignation, the council opened up an application process for those interested in being appointed to the seat. Twenty-four people have applied, including 2009 District 1 candidate Owen Sutkowski.

Sutkowski, who is gay, unsuccessfully ran for the District 1 Democratic nomination against incumbent Patsy Kinsey. He’s one of two applicants who have run for the council in the past.

In his statement of interest for the position, Sutkowski quoted The Charlotte Observer‘s 2009 endorsement of his candidacy: “[Sutkowski] has dived enthusiastically into civic issues, serving on the city-county Community Relations Committee and the city’s Privatization/Competition Advisory Committee. He is pushing transparency and accessibility of city government and seems to have an ability to see the big picture in a confusing set of interconnected local governments.”

Susan Burgess

Of the endorsement, Sutkowski said, “I believe this is a clear and concise statement of my strengths and feel I will bring a fresh perspective which seeks collaborative partnerships and community insight to strengthen Charlotte.”

Only two applicants said they would not seek re-election to the position, a city tradition. Sutkowski made no such pledge in his statement of interest.

The council could vote on Burgess’ replacement as early as Monday, June 14. Many expect they could appoint Jason Burgess. On Thursday, Observer columnist Tommy Tomlinson encouraged the council not to appoint Burgess’ son and instead choose an applicant qualified for the position.

“Anybody who has a heart understands what’s going on,” Tomlinson wrote. “No one has bad intentions. All parties are just doing what they think is best. But what’s best for them is not best for the people of Charlotte. And that seat on City Council belongs to the people.”

Sutkowski: I want to bring community voices to the table

qnotes spoke with Sutkowski about his application to replace Susan Burgess on Charlotte City Council. Check it out on our blog.