Several of Charlotte’s local LGBTQ community organizations came together March 29 to present the Charlotte LGBT+ Community Candidate Fair, among them Carolinas LGBT+ Chamber, Charlotte Black Pride, Charlotte Pride, Equality NC, the Freedom Center for Social Justice, LGBT Democrats of Mecklenburg County, Log Cabin Republicans of NC, and Qnotes.
Over 50 candidates running for local, state and federal offices attended the event, including candidates running for Charlotte City Council, Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners, judicial races, General Assembly races, and candidates for the 12th and 14th Congressional Districts.
“I’ve got a lot of friends that are running for office here at the event,” says community member Jenny-James Gunn. “Being part of the LGBT+ Chamber, I love the fact that this is an LGBT-centered event and also the political community – both sides of the aisle – are here and making themselves available. I say this all the time, ‘if you ignore democracy, it can go away.’ This engagement, [this] civic engagement, is what we always need to keep democracy thriving in Charlotte, North Carolina.”
If elected, Democrat Kendrick Cunningham would be the city’s first non-binary elected official. Cunningham is running for the city’s second district.
LaWanna Mayfield, a Democrat, was the first openly LGBTQ+ woman elected to the Charlotte City Council representing District 3. Mayfield originally assumed office in 2011 and held the position for two terms (eight years), remaining in office until 2019. This time around she’s running with an impressive history of experience for an at-large council position in an effort to better serve all Charlotteans.
Billy Maddalon is a Democratic candidate who previously served as the city’s first openly gay councilman in 2013. Previously appointed to fill the space vacated by Patsy Kinsey when she took over the mayor’s position from Anthony Foxx, who was appointed as then Secretary Of Transportation, this time Maddalon is actually running for the office in District One, with the experience of having served in the role previously under his belt.
Kyle Luebke, an at-large city council candidate and a Log Cabin Republican, is the first openly gay Republican to run for Charlotte City Council.
Danté Anderson, also a Democrat and a member of Charlotte’s LGBTQ community, she is running for District One.
President & CEO of the Carolinas LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce Chad Turner addressed the candidates directly about the importance of the event, and offered appreciation for their involvement.
“The reason why we do this event like this is that most of you sit in forums on stages and answer the same questions the same way all the way through the forum,” Turner offered. “We don’t learn who you are. We don’t learn what you are going to do, [unless] we allow our community to ask you questions about what concerns them, their households, their businesses, their families [and] their workplaces. So, [we’re] grateful that you’re here today.”
Photos by Chris Rudisill for Qnotes