Charlotte mayoral candidates debate for first time

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Democratic candidates for Charlotte mayor participated Saturday in their first debate this campaign season.

The city of Charlotte, along with several political groups, hosted the Charlotte Mayoral Democratic Primary Debate Kickoff at Weeping Willow A.M.E. Zion in east Charlotte.

Incumbent Jennifer Roberts, state Sen. Joel Ford and Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles all answered questions from both moderators and the audience.

The candidates took questions on major issues impacting Charlotte.

There was one stance Lyles and Ford agreed on.

“We agreed it's time for Mayor Roberts to go,” Ford said,

“There needs to be a change in the mayor's office,” Lyles said.

On transportation, Roberts and Lyles showed their support for the light rail and other public transit.

“We have national and international reputation,” Roberts said. “We need to leverage that for essential items like our public transit system.”

Ford said his experience in Raleigh is the key to achieving the city's transportation plan.

"We have to have a relationship with the North Carolina General Assembly so we can have the resources to build our plan,” Ford said.

The candidates also addressed the Keith Lamont Scott shooting and talked about ways to improve police-public relations in the wake of the shooting.

“I was the first city official to call for the full release of the body camera video,” Roberts said.

Ford discussed his support for controversial House Bill 972. He said it gives the public access to police body and dash cam videos.

“Video dash and body was treated as a personnel record, it could be held and not viewed by anyone,” Ford said.

The candidates were also asked about affordable housing.

Roberts and Lyles stood behind the city's pledge to build 5,000 housing units over three years.

A voter interrupted to express her frustration over the lack of affordable housing in Charlotte.

"You guys have women and children paying $1,300 a month in hotels that are not considered homeless because you don't see people in hotels as homeless," the voter said.

Ford and Roberts agreed that more needs to be done.

All of the candidates intend to run for that mayoral seat.

Filing starts in July and the Democratic primary is in September.

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