CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Community members with the Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee (MeckPAC) are preparing for this year’s local election season. As campaign filing gets underway, the group is announcing a significant expansion in their endorsement process.
The filing period for this year’s local elections open today at noon for candidates running for Charlotte City Council, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education and the town commissions and mayoral offices of Mecklenburg County suburbs.
MeckPAC, founded in 1998, has long endorsed in Charlotte Council and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools races. For the first time this year, they will also review mayoral candidates in Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, Matthews, Mint Hill and Pineville.
“Our steering committee knows there are LGBT citizens and MeckPAC supporters in these towns and we want to provide an easy way for them to evaluate the LGBT inclusiveness of those running for office there,” the group said in a release. “If successful, we foresee a time when we can expand our reach to also include the town councils and commissions.”
The group says it will send candidate questionnaires to all who file for the elected offices on the ballot this year. The deadline for candidate responses is July 26.
The highest-profile race will be the quest for Charlotte’s mayoral office. Anthony Foxx announced earlier this year he wouldn’t seek re-election and was sworn in this week as the new secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Two past MeckPAC endorsees — current Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Cannon (D-At Large) and former at-large Republican Charlotte Councilmember Edwin Peacock — have already announced their candidacy for mayor. Democratic Councilmember James Mitchell (Dist. 2) has also announced.
MeckPAC has assisted in the passage of a variety of LGBT-inclusion measures at the local level, including LGBT worker protections at the city level, protections based on sexual orientation at the county level, an anti-bullying policy in the county’s school system and domestic partner benefits for city and county workers.
The group is also reportedly working on potential LGBT-inclusive changes to Charlotte’s Commercial Non-Discrimination Ordinance, which requires businesses contracting with the city to certify they have a non-discrimination policy. The ordinance does not include sexual orientation or gender identity.
The city spent at least $1.1 million dollars during the Democratic National Convention with businesses that do not offer LGBT workers full employee protections.
City Councilmember LaWana Mayfield said in June the MeckPAC might bring the issue forward. She also said that no proposal has yet to be submitted to Council.
MeckPAC Chair Scott Bishop said his group has had no conversations with any Council members regarding the ordinance. MeckPAC committee member Roberta Dunn told qnotes the ordinance was briefly discussed with City Manager Ron Carlee at a meeting in May.
A statewide anti-LGBT group recently targeted elected officials on the ordinance issue.