Charlotte will vote for its fifth mayor in less than three years on Nov. 3, with Democratic candidate Jennifer Roberts facing off against Republican Edwin Peacock.
Peacock was an at-large City Council member from 2007 to 2011. He previously ran for mayor in 2013 against Patrick Cannon.
Roberts was chairman of the Mecklenburg County Commission for five years, with her term ending in 2011. She also worked as a diplomat for four years for the U.S. Department of State.
qnotes reached out to both campaigns and heard back from Roberts. Peacock’s campaign did not get back to us by press time, but we will publish his responses at goqnotes.com if we receive them before election day.
Jennifer Roberts LGBT record, stance
Roberts has been endorsed by both Equality NC (ENC) and the Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee (MeckPAC) for her support of the LGBT community. During her primary contest with Dan Clodfelter, ENC endorsed both she and her rival. MeckPAC endorsed Clodfelter.
As chairman of the Mecklenburg County Commission, she oversaw votes to add sexual orientation to the city’s employment non-discrimination policy and to add domestic partner benefits for employees with same-sex partners.
“I will work with my colleagues on the city council, as well as with the community and build support for extending non-discrimination protections to LGBT people in public contracting, services and accommodations, including non-discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression,” Roberts told qnotes.
Roberts also expressed concern with magistrates being allowed to opt out of issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples if it goes against their religious beliefs.
“Magistrates should follow the law and perform their duties,” she said. “They should not be allowed to opt out of any duty.”
Roberts has also been very visible within the LGBT community, including appearances at Charlotte Pride and the Human Rights Campaign Gala.
Edwin Peacock LGBT record, stance
Peacock came out against Amendment One, the constitutional referendum to define marriage as between one man and one woman, while a candidate in the 9th Congressional District’s Republican Primary.
He spoke to qnotes in 2013 and stated that he was not in favor of “same-sex marriage from a 50-states’ perspective,” and indicated support for the state’s role in defining marriage, with a belief that civil unions or domestic partnerships might be an appropriate middle ground.
In an interview with The Charlotte Observer in September of this year, he said “I agree with the Supreme Court’s recent decision regarding same-sex marriage.”
He said in the 2013 qnotes interview that he supported “same-sex benefits at the City of Charlotte, as a city issue,” and added, “I was for it.”
He told the Charlotte Agenda, in an interview in June, when asked what role the city should play as it relates to the LGBT community, that the city has “6,000 employees, you set the standard” in terms of providing LGBT protections.
In that same interview he stressed that coming out against Amendment One was a “socially moderate stance within the Republican party.”
As far as the non-discrimination ordinance, he said in the Observer interview, “I would not have supported adding several new protected classes to the non-discrimination ordinance for public accommodations.”
Roberts has the support of the biggest LGBT groups and organizations, as they see her as the more pro-LGBT candidate in the race. That is fair, seeing as she is willing to go further in her rhetoric than Peacock on issues such as the non-discrimination ordinance, which will likely be the biggest LGBT issue facing Charlotte in the near future.
Of course, as with any politician, voters have to question how likely the candidate is to stay true to the promises and sound bites they lay down on the campaign trail. There seems to be little to no reason to assume that Roberts will be anything but pro-LGBT while in office, should she win.
As Peacock points out, he is willing to take more socially progressive stances on LGBT issues than many of his Republican cohorts. Again, voters are asked to trust that the voting record will match the rhetoric. Even if it does, Roberts is clearly the more socially liberal candidate in the race, and if Peacock hopes to pick up LGBT votes, it will likely be on the back of non-LGBT issues.
Socially liberal voters may also worry that if Peacock seeks a higher office he, like former mayor and current North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, may suddenly start sounding a lot less moderate and a lot more conservative.