CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Sen. Joel Ford recently announced he is considering running for mayor of Charlotte in a primary challenge to Jennifer Roberts, and on Sunday he appeared on WCNC’s “Flashpoint” to discuss his decision to form an exploratory committee, as well as offer insight into how he would lead.
“Charlotte really needs to readjust its message and its relationship [with the general assembly] so that we can be a better city working with the North Carolina General Assembly,” Ford said.
He also touted his relationship with the general assembly as a point in his favor.
“Being able to call personally the speaker of the house and the president pro tem of the North Carolina Senate can only be an advantage to the city of Charlotte,” Ford argued.
“Being able to call them and them not cuss your name before they pick up the phone,” former Rep. Charles Jeter, the shows other guest, responded. “I mean let’s be honest, part of the problem we have now is, fair or unfair, the current mayor’s reputation in that building is one of animus towards her. I’m not arguing it’s a fair position or an unfair position, that’s the facts of the matter.”
“That’s right,” Ford agreed.
“And so, as long as you maintain the current leadership in the city of Charlotte…the city of Charlotte is going to have a hard time getting anything they need cause it’s a personal issue as much as it is a policy issue,” Jeter continued, with Ford smiling beside him.
Ford added that Charlotte would have to do “an about-face.”
After both Ford and Jeter noted the significance of GOP wins on election night and the uphill battle Roy Cooper will face in keeping his pledge to repeal House Bill 2, Jeter suggested Charlotte had to make a first move to bring about a compromise.
“So even with the economic repercussions that we’ve seen across the state — job loss, losing things like the NCAA tournament — you don’t think those things will get the general assembly to maybe look at the issue and do things a little bit differently?” host Beth Troutman asked.
“I think the city of Charlotte has to act first,” Jeter said. “I’m not arguing whether or not that’s fair or unfair, I’m telling you what I think the tea leaves are saying.”
“And unfortunately I have to agree with my good friend here, Rep. Jeter,” Ford said. “The city of Charlotte is going to have to go first. The city of Charlotte is going to have to have a sincere first step and to acknowledge that what they did, that the general assembly does not like [it]. And it’s unfortunate. So one of the reasons why I’m looking to run for mayor is to have a different conversation. One that is going to be more collaborative. One that is going to work with the general assembly so that the city of Charlotte can get what it needs and what it wants.”
Ford has been vocal about the needs for what he called a “reset.”
Charlotte passed an expansion to its nondiscrimination ordinance in February, providing protections to LGBTQ citizens for the first time. It also prompted the state to react with HB2, nullifying all nondiscrimination ordinances passed in cities and municipalities and stripping protections from the LGBTQ community.
Ford also said we don’t talk enough about lost wages “from decisions made by the city of Charlotte,” possibly referring to the boycotts which companies have explicitly stated is due to HB2, not Charlotte’s nondiscrimination ordinance.
This would also be a difficult talking point for defenders of HB2 to use, seeing as the bill capped the state’s minimum wage at $7.25 an hour.