RALEIGH, N.C. — Charlotte City Councilmember John Autry, a longtime ally to the LGBTQ community, has moved on up in the world. Having won his bid for the 100th district seat in the North Carolina House of Representatives, Rep. Autry has big dreams for his growing political career. Top on the list are education and healthcare, at a time when both are potentially threatened by the incoming federal government.
The Charlotte City Council accepted applications to fill Autry’s vacated District 5 seat. The applicants, who each spoke at the Jan. 9 City Council meeting, include Dimple Ajmera, Ariel Chambers-Woodruff, Johnell Holma, Marjorie Molina, Matthew Newton and Queen Thompson. The council will vote on a candidate on Jan. 17.
Rep. Autry is familiar to the readers of qnotes as an ally who fights for LGBTQ rights and equality at every turn. He voted for Charlotte’s non-discrimination ordinance in February of 2016, and long resisted the state legislature’s blackmail in the form of House Bill 2 (HB2). Many LGBTQ folks and allies were seriously disappointed with the council’s repeal of their ordinance in the hopes of securing an HB2 repeal — but Autry impressed his colleagues in local government with his passion for LGBTQ issues.
Opening day 2017. pic.twitter.com/zqpRpqNb3M
— John Autry (@AutryJohn) January 11, 2017
“Personally I’m going to miss John,” said Mayor Jennifer Roberts in the Jan. 9 meeting. “He is also deeply committed to ensuring that everyone in Charlotte is treated equally with dignity and respect, and he has been a staunch proponent of non-discrimination, in Charlotte and everywhere…I know that he will bring that same passion to his job and his position in Raleigh.”
As the state transitions to its new Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, Rep. Autry will be another friendly face in terms of progress. Autry’s campaign site named education as a top priority, citing teacher pay, school resources, mentor programs, and expanding the Teaching Fellows program. Autry is also progressive in his views on the environment and spoke passionately at his final council meeting about the need to prioritize policies that address pollution.
“We have transportation challenges, we have housing challenges, we have challenges with economic development, but none of that means anything if we don’t have clean water and clean air,” Autry told the council.
Rep. Autry’s liberal voice is a stark contrast to the Republican super-majority in the North Carolina Legislature. The North Carolina General Assembly is nationally notorious at the moment, particularly for its attacks on LGBTQ rights in the form of HB2.
As Rep. Autry told qnotes upon first running for his District 5 City Council seat: “Equality means everyone.”