James “Smuggie” Mitchell
James “Smuggie” Mitchell

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee (MeckPAC) has released its slate of primary endorsements in local city elections. The primary is slated for Sept. 10, with early voting already underway.

This year, the local advocacy group said it placed higher standards for candidates and changed the way they endorse. In the past, the group had often issued both full endorsements and indicated whether non-endorsed candidates were “receptive” or friendly to LGBT issues.

“Today, there are far more supportive and receptive candidates that we’ve found in the past,” MeckPAC Chair Scott Bishop told qnotes. “In fact, we didn’t find anyone we talked to and turned in a questionnaire that we would put a warning out for. With that realization, we decided that we wanted to set a higher standard for who were were going to endorse.”

Among those higher standards were a questions on same-sex marriage and civil unions.

“Every single candidate we endorsed answered yes to both of those questions” said Bishop. “Even though City Council, the mayor and school board have no impact on whether members of our community can be married, we thought it was very important to know where they stand on that issue.”

The group has endorsed several candidates for mayor, City Council and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education.

At the top of the list, is Democratic mayoral candidate and current District 2 City Councilmember James “Smuggie” Mitchell. Mitchell is facing current Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Cannon, Gary Mitchell Dunn and Lucille Puckett in the Democratic primary.

Bishop said all the mayoral candidates, with the exception of Republican David Michael Rice, returned a questionaire and later met with the group. They chose Mitchell for his more solid support on LGBT issues.

“James Mitchell was working to ensure that the rest of his colleagues on Council voted to keep [domestic partner benefits] in the budget and not to remove it as a line item,” Bishop said of last year’s budget vote. “We spoke to James Mitchell early on in planning to request domestic partner benefits and he was very support of it at that time.”

Cannon supported the domestic partner benefits addition, too, but Bishop said there “were other things that made James Mitchell the stronger candidate.”

Republican candidate Edwin Peacock didn’t make the endorsement cut, either, despite his record of past MeckPAC support when he served on City Council.

“If we had decided to use the receptive category this year, he would have received that, as would have Patrick Cannon,” Bishop said. “We decided to endorse only the number of candidates we felt comfortable were very supportive on all our issues.”

The group did not endorse any Republican candidate for office this year, but said candidates from all parties showed some support for LGBT issues.

“In my opinion, this is probably one of the strongest LGBT-friendly slate of candidates we’ve had, and that goes across party lines,” said Bishop. : :


2013 Primary Endorsements

Democratic: James “Smuggie” Mitchell
Republican: No endorsement
Libertarian: No candidate

City Council At-Large
Democratic: Vi Alexander Lyles, Claire Green Fallon, Beth Pickering, Nancy Wiggins
Republican: No primary
Libertarion: No primary

City Council Districts
1 — Pasty Kinsey (D)
2 — Alvin (Al) Austin (D)
4 — Leonard Richardson (D)
5 — John Autry (D)

CMS Board of Education Districts
4 — Tom Tate (Non-partisan)

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.