Monday, December 7, 2015
Thank you. I am truly honored and humbled for the support of so many of you here tonight and for the support of this community and for the opportunity to serve the great city of Charlotte!
And I would like to take a moment to thank my family for their love and support.
My husband, Manley, who is a great attorney, a fine musician, and a wonderful father. And I am grateful for our two children. Our son, Manley Junior, who is a dedicated singer in the choir school at St Peter’s and who we are so proud of for having just earned his black belt in karate.
And our daughter, Montana, who is a talented writer and athlete and is away at college and could not be here tonight but is with us in spirit.
I also want to thank my parents: my mother, Julie, who passed away several years ago, and my father, Randy, who passed away just a few weeks ago.
I know they are watching from above and I am forever grateful to them for inspiring me to be the best person that I can be and for instilling in me the ideal that when you are blessed with much, you must give back to the community that has given so much to you.
We live in a community that is blessed.
Not only must we give back individually, but as a community that is fortunate, we have a special responsibility to ensure together that no one is left behind.
Charlotte's history is that of a progressive community, one that welcomes and values all of its people and we are a city with a reputation of getting things done.
Though we are now a city of nearly one million people, we will always have the heart of a small town. We will always be a city where neighbors look out for one another and where community service is more than an ideal, it is a way of life.
The strength of our city lies in our willingness and ability to work together: the faith community, our non-profit groups, our businesses, and the thousands of neighborhood leaders who every day volunteer their time and effort to improve our city, often without recognition.
Long before I announced for mayor I heard from people throughout this community about things our city does well, and how we can be better.
My job is to work with council to fulfill Charlotte's vision and take our great city to the next level.
Opportunity for Our Youth and Our Neighborhoods
As I travel the city and listen to people of all walks of life, what I hear most clearly is the importance of opportunity that is open to all.
I ran for Mayor of Charlotte to work with you to create a city with 21st Century opportunities for all people and to expand those opportunities to all corners of our City.
We cannot endure as a city of haves and have-nots.
At the core of the American dream is the ideal that everyone will be given the opportunity to work hard and achieve their goals in life—no matter who they are or where they come from.
To achieve our vision of opportunity, there are several areas that demand our attention:
- our youth
- our neighborhoods
- our workers
To achieve our vision of opportunity, we must start with our young people—they are the future of this City.
All of us play a role in the education and future success of our children.
As Mayor I will focus on several key areas to support the education of our children: After-School programs, Mentoring, Youth Employment, and Youth Diversion from the criminal justice system.
For After-School Time, currently, there is no group or organization in Charlotte in charge of monitoring, assessing the gaps, and ensuring that our kids have constructive, positive programs. I will convene a summit on after-school time to focus our community on how to ensure that all our children have access to quality after school programs.
Young people need trusted adults in their lives, and they need job skills. These are issues that the Mayor's Mentoring Alliance and the Mayor's Youth Employment Program seek to address -- along with programs run by numerous community partners. We need to expand these programs by seeking outside resources and by engaging more of the community in them.
A jail record creates a huge barrier to future employment. We need to give young people who have made mistakes a path to a different life through successful jail diversion programs. This is one more key part of keeping opportunity open to all young people.
As I said, we must spread opportunity to every neighborhood of our city.
There are four critical areas for the success of our neighborhoods: transportation, housing, safety, and jobs.
To continue to bring opportunity to east and west Charlotte, I join the Council in continuing the construction of the CityLynx Goldline, and fully connecting the east and west sides of our city. This will spur opportunity in areas such as Beattie’s Ford Road and Central Avenue. And to my friends on the east side, we will see action on Eastland Mall this term.
And we will update our 2030 transportation plan to renew our commitment to serving all parts of our city, including the north and south.
All of Charlotte must have quality access to transportation options, including safe walking and biking paths.
As for housing, Charlotte has a progressive affordable housing program. We need to do more. We must create affordable housing options for our seniors as well as nurses, teachers, bus drivers and other Charlotte working families.
We need to create more diverse housing options for mixed use and mixed income projects throughout the city.
No community can be successful unless it is safe. We have been through a cycle of historically low crime, but the trend is shifting not just here, but across the country, in the wrong direction.
I will make it a budget priority this year to assess the resource needs of public safety in a prudent manner and in a way that ensures the quality of life that we treasure.
I look forward to working with my colleagues to keep our citizens and our police officers safe through strong community and police relations—because public safety is a two-way street.
We also strengthen our neighborhoods by bringing jobs to every corner of our city. Charlotte is blessed with numerous large corporations that support our community in many ways. Charlotte is a corporate hub in several sectors–finance, energy, healthcare, logistics—and we will continue to aggressively recruit companies to Charlotte and aggressively work to retain the companies we already have.
We will do this in in collaboration with our many Chambers of Commerce, the Charlotte Regional Partnership, Mecklenburg County, and the state of North Carolina.
And we must do more. We will not just go big but we will also go small and expand opportunity to small, women- and minority-owned businesses. They are the backbone of our economy. They are entrepreneurs who create most of the new jobs in our city.
Every large business in Charlotte started as one small idea that grew.
And, while we focus locally, we must remember that we operate on a global stage and we will work with our partners to expand Charlotte’s international footprint in Germany, China, India, Latin America and literally around the globe.
We have many friends in other countries who want to do business with us and visit our region.
And we say willkomen, bienvenue, bienvenidos, benvenuti to all of them.
Working together on many fronts
Our agenda extends into numerous other areas as well, such as the environment and the arts as well as building strong partnerships throughout the region.
We all want a clean and healthy community. Our children and our workers can’t succeed without clean air and water—none of us can.
Arts are integral to the continued vitality of our city and its growth and its expanding identity as a city of innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity.
Together, we will move Charlotte forward in these areas as well.
I will respect and value each member of the Council, and I will build respectful relationships with the Governor, Members of the General Assembly and our Representatives in Congress.
And we will strengthen our relations with Mecklenburg County, the School Board, and the Counties of North and South Carolina that are part of our region and with local governments across our state.
We need a highly successful urban and rural North Carolina, working as one state.
Expanding opportunity should not be a zero-sum game that creates winners and losers. We must commit to all of Charlotte being a winner.
To accomplish this broad vision for Charlotte, we must work together, and that means striving for civil discourse and appreciating our differences, including differences of opinion.
In our city, we will fight for racial justice as we continue to battle historical discrimination and the bias affecting our African-American Community.
I will continue to promote equal treatment of women, including equal pay for equal work. I am keenly aware that I am here tonight because countless generations of women and men worked to ensure that women would not only have a voice in our government, but someday women would lead America and lead our greatest cities.
I will welcome and embrace visitors and new residents from around the world, and begin to implement the recommendations from the Immigration Integration Task Force, on which I was proud to serve.
And, I will work with Council to ensure non discrimination for our LGBT community.
Tomorrow, I am excited to hit the ground running in my first full day in office and begin work to deliver on the vision of this community.
- Starting at 6 am I will shadow city sanitation workers to show my appreciation for their hard work in keeping our city clean and to show support for all city employees who work every hour of every day to serve our citizens.
- I will also ride along with police officers to see firsthand the challenges they face and to show my support for their efforts to build trust in our community, partnering with the community to keep our city safe.
- I look forward to having lunch at One-way Smokehouse and visiting with small businesses on Beattie’s Ford Road.
- Later in the afternoon, I will visit with an after school program, reinforcing my commitment to supporting our youth.
- And in the evening, with my friends who work so hard to prevent domestic violence and help its survivors, we will honor victims of domestic violence with a tree lighting at police headquarters. Domestic violence is the number one call that police officers respond to. I will continue to raise awareness and work to turn the tide on this terrible problem that affects too many families.
- And finally I will address the LGBT chamber of commerce to reinforce my commitment to making Charlotte a fair and accepting city where all people are deserving of equal treatment under the law.
I am blessed to continue to serve this great city and I will work hard every day to live up to the trust the people of Charlotte have placed in me.
My greatest desire is that we create thriving neighborhoods throughout Charlotte…
- Where my children want to raise our grandchildren
- Where opportunity is more than a dream, it is a promise we can offer to all our city’s children and their children.
Thank you for all the support you have given me.
I will work tirelessly to live up to your expectations.
I know that with all of us working together we can achieve great things for Charlotte.
God bless America, God Bless the great state of NC, and God bless Charlotte. And I will leave you with one final thought.