CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Queen City’s newly-installed city manager, Ron Carlee, attended a public forum with leaders of the LGBT community on May 23.
The event was held at the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte where Roberta Dunn, center board vice chair, said about 25 people attended the meeting. Dunn is also a member of the Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee (MeckPAC) Steering Committee.
Carlee’s history as an LGBT and progressive ally encourages Dunn.
“I think it is a tremendous strength to the community,” she said. “We are going to be in a void with an election coming up for the new mayor. We don’t know what kind of support we’ll get from the left or the right, the Democrats or the Republicans. I have major concerns on both sides of the aisle on how strong of support we’ll get from a new mayor. Having a city manager that is a very strong ally, I think it is a good thing.”
Dunn said Carlee and those gathered discussed a range of issues, including the proposed streetcar project.
“He discussed what the metro system did for Washington, D.C., and its property tax values and commuter capabilities and what a fantastic thing it is for D.C. and the surrounding Maryland and Virginia areas,” Dunn said.
Carlee is a former Arlington County, Va., manager.
Dunn said Carlee also discussed LGBT inclusion.
“He said that when he was asked about this position here [in Charlotte], one of the first things he asked was where are you on LGBT equality,” Dunn said. “He was told what we had in the city and county and he said that he wouldn’t want to go to a city that didn’t have equality and rights for everyone.”
Also discussed, Dunn said, was the city’s Commercial Non-Discrimination Ordinance. The law lays out how businesses wishing to contract services with the city offer their bids. Currently, businesses must state they have a non-discrimination policy, but the ordinance does not include enumerated categories like sexual orientation and gender identity. Dunn reported Carlee said he would look into the city’s authority to amend the ordinance.
Dunn also expressed some frustration with attendance at the event, despite good attendance from a good portion of long-established civic leaders. Though the city and county have made progress on some employment and benefits issues, Dunn said, more work remains to be done.
“We have so much more to accomplish,” she said. “There’s still so much discrimination out there.” : :