By Steve Harrison, The Charlotte Observer
Charlotte City Council member Dimple Ajmera asked her colleagues Monday to issue a resolution about the violence in Charlottesville, Va., but she got a cold response – from both Democrats and Republicans.
“I hope you will join me in rejecting this cynical attempt by a candidate for office to capitalize on the tragic events in Charlottesville for personal political purposes,” Republican council member Ed Driggs wrote in an email to council members. “I’m sure we all deplore the violence that occurred, but we have enough social issues in our City without trying to breathe life into this one with an official proclamation that is amateurish, ugly and inflammatory.”
Driggs’s main concern about the resolution was that he said it used language that was inflammatory. Ajmera criticized groups like neo-Nazis and fascists who “serve the immoral masters of hate, discrimination, bigotry, and violence.”
The resolution also condemned “the violence and abuse of the right to free speech and assembly that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia; condemns the abuse of freedom of speech and assembly in furtherance of hate, discrimination, bigotry, and violence, wherever it may occur; and states unequivocally that those who so abuse these rights are not welcome in Charlotte.”
Ajmera, a Democrat running for an at-large seat in this fall’s election, said the city needed the resolution because it’s “a matter of safety and trust in our community.”
Democrat Julie Eiselt, also running at-large, said she thought Ajmera’s statement was “political” because she learned about it from the news media. Republican council member Kenny Smith, a mayoral candidate, said he felt the resolution was “brought out for political purposes.”
Other Democrats didn’t go that far, but almost all of them were reluctant to back her resolution.
Ajmera was appointed to the City Council in January to represent District 5 after John Autry was elected to the General Assembly.
Earlier this summer, she angered many council members – including fellow Democrats – when she said that people who support President Donald Trump should have no place in the mayor’s race or City Council. Her statements drew a strong rebuke from local Republicans, but Ajmera did not back down. She called a press conference to discuss the issue but declined to answer reporters’ questions.
Ajmera said she would be willing to have her resolution changed. Council members later unanimously voted to have City Manager Marcus Jones draft a resolution.