Mayoral Candidates Take to Pride Campaigning
The race for mayor is heating up, with eight candidates set to duke it out in their respective primaries on Sept. 15. The biggest action will be among Democrats, where six candidates will hope to win the nomination and make it to the general election.
Four of those mayoral candidates took their campaign messaging directly to the LGBT community this past weekend. Leading contenders Jennifer Roberts, David Howard and Dan Clodfelter were among thousands marching in the Charlotte Pride Parade. They were joined by lesser-known political newcomer and openly gay candidate Roderick Davis as well as several other candidates for other offices and other elected officials.
The four candidates' appearance at the event - which organizers said this week attracted 115,000-120,000 visitors over two days - doesn't come necessarily as a surprise to campaign watchers.
"I think that Democrats running for local office realize the importance of the LGBT community, because, generally, we are more politically active and have been motivated by the recent non-discrimination ordinance," said Cameron Joyce, president of the LGBT Democrats of Mecklenburg County. "I think it also shows that in an effort to look progressive and be progressive in a city that hopes to have a progressive image that it's necessary for them to be present."
Clodfelter, Howard and Roberts have been among the most LGBT-friendly mayoral candidates. Along with Davis, they were the only mayoral candidates to show up to a recent LGBT community candidate forum and each has spent considerable time outreaching to LGBT voters.
Clodfelter has relied on his history of LGBT support over his decades of public service. As incumbent, he supported efforts in March this year to expand local non-discrimination ordinances to protect LGBT residents, a move similarly taken - and rejected - two decades ago when Clodfelter served on City Council.
"I heard a lot of ugliness and hatred [in March], but I was proud of you," Clodfelter told the forum audience last week. "You spoke about your experiences. That wasn't the case in 1992."
Howard wasn't entirely supportive of a comprehensive public accommodations ordinance, citing concerns over the use of restrooms by transgender people. He offered an alternative to create single-stall gender neutral restrooms in building codes instead.