CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Democratic City Councilmember Michael Barnes has officially announced he’s running for mayor this year, making the announcement on his Facebook page on Wednesday evening. He’s the first candidate in the race with a less-than-friendly record on LGBT equality issues.
Barnes’ enters a growing Democratic primary field. Former Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jennifer Roberts and City Councilmember David Howard have already announced their campaigns, and current Mayor Dan Clodfelter has given indications he’ll run again, too.
But Barnes is the only candidate so far with a less-than-stellar record on LGBT issues — which could help sway votes away from or toward a candidate in a tight Democratic primary.
Barnes’ positions on LGBT issues are soft-spoken, and he hasn’t made them large platform issues for his campaigns or city initiatives. Nonetheless, he’s been opposed to full marriage equality for LGBT couples and less-than-supportive on other issues.
His limited support has cost Barnes local LGBT endorsements. In his first race in 2005, the Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee (MeckPAC) declined to endorse him and rated him as “non-committal” on LGBT inclusion efforts. Since then, Barnes has failed to garner a MeckPAC endorsement every time he’s run, though in 2009, the LGBT advocacy group upped their review to “receptive.”
In 2011, qnotes also declined to endorse Barnes, after he declined to return our questionnaire.
Other candidates in the race do have more friendly records. Roberts and Howard have both received MeckPAC endorsements, and Clodfelter received endorsements from the statewide Equality North Carolina when he served in the state Senate.
Barnes, first elected in 2005 as a District 4 rep, is now in his fifth term. He ran as an at-large candidate in 2013. Barnes currently also serves as mayor pro tempore and served briefly as a sort-of acting mayor between former Mayor Patrick Cannon’s resignation following his arrest on federal corruption and the appointment of Clodfelter has his successor.
In his short announcement on Wednesday, Barnes cited his past work on economic development, public safety and city infrastructure as reasons for his run.
“As your next Mayor, I would continue my focus on the things that have made Charlotte great. Please join me in moving Charlotte forward,” Barnes said.