Originally published: July 15, 2013, 6:19 p.m.
Updated: July 16, 2013, 12:51 p.m.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Two gay men are among 11 citizens who have filed to replace current Mayor Patsy Kinsey in her former District 1 City Council seat.
Kinsey, a Democrat, vacated her District 1 Council seat on July 1 after being appointed mayor. Former Mayor Anthony Foxx resigned his city post when he was confirmed as the new secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Billy Maddalon, 46, owner of VanLandingham Estate and Morehead Inn, and James Hildreth, 23, a senior majoring in political science at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, submitted their names to temporarily replace Kinsey.
Desire to serve
Hildreth and Maddalon both say they have a desire to serve their communities and see to their improvement.
“I’m very aware there are lots of opportunities to make a difference in our community,” said Maddalon. “I can’t say elected office was every something I necessarily saw myself doing. … This is a unique opportunity for me.”
Hildreth said public office is one of his life goals.
“You can do more than just going to a City Council meeting and telling your local representatives what they did that you supported or didn’t like, or doing more than going to a protest and expressing your concerns there,” Hildreth said. “If you’re the person that is there making the decisions, that is involved in how the decision is made, you have to hold yourself to the same amount of accountability you would your current elected officials.”
23, Windsor Park
Senior, Political Science at
University of North Carolina-Charlotte
Windsor Park Neighborhood Association
46, Plaza Midwood
Owner, Unique Southern Estates
Co-Chair, Charlotte EAST
Meredith College Board of Trustees
Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity National Board
Hildreth is also the youngest qualified candidate up for consideration for the vacant seat. He doesn’t think his age will serve as a detriment. Including young people — a demographic Hildreth said leaders are always asking to be more active — will be a benefit “so the city is attracting the younger, educated people the city wants to attract.”
“Why not have the opinion of someone who is going to be there,” he said, “who is going to be thinking very long term and wants to stay in Charlotte for an extended period of time?”
East Charlotte involvement
Both men are involved in local efforts in East Charlotte. Maddalon is currently the co-chair of Charlotte EAST, a group that has been pushing for renewed development and attention on the Charlotte’s Eastside. Hildreth is a member of the Windsor Park Neighborhood Association and has also been active with Save The Eastland Icons, a Charlotte EAST project to preserve old Eastland Mall signage.
Hildreth and Maddalon agree that renewed focus on East Charlotte development is key.
“I would say in recent history the city has been underwhelming in the way it has handled Eastland,” Maddalon said. “There were numerous opportunities to keep what happened at Eastland from happening, in my opinion, which is to say total collapse.”
“I feel like in the past that the Eastside was neglected,” Hildreth said.
Both, who also supported the controversial East-West Gold Line streetcar extension, also think city officials are on a better path to development in East Charlotte.
“The City Council has seen what has happened,” Hildreth said. “You have this once very luxurious mall on the Eastside now being city-owned and having to be torn down. That’s not something you want to see repeated.”
Said Maddalon, “Ultimately the city did the right thing. Now the city is doing great work.”
If either are appointed, they would be the second openly LGBT official on Council. District 3 Democrat LaWana Mayfield became the city’s first in 2011. Kinsey’s District 1 seat contains several of the city’s the most heavily LGBT-populated neighborhoods.
Maddalon, who lives with his spouse, Brooks, and their two school-aged sons, thinks most citizens won’t notice his sexual orientation, especially among District 1’s already diverse population.
“We’ve got a pretty bohemian district,” Maddalon said. “It stretches all the way from a Dilworth all the way over to a NoDa. You’ve got everything from attorneys to tattoos.”
And, amid the city’s current troubles — including controversies over ownership of the Charlotte airport — Maddalon thinks most people will be focused on other issues.
“Probably, in the short term, nobody’s going to pay too much attention to that, just because, again, the shop’s on fire,” Maddalon said. “Those of us concerned about issues affecting our community would be very pleased with [an openly gay appointment]. You can’t call it anything but a win and a step forward.”
“Hopefully it will be a learning experience for a large portion of the city,” said Hildreth. “There is this population that is in Charlotte, that is active, that wants to be involved, that wants to do more. LGBTQ people are your neighbors, your friends and your family. In a southern city, especially such as Charlotte, having two openly gay representatives will be a milestone of achievement.”
Other qualified candidates for Kinsey’s replacement include: Arturo Cardenas; Jenifer R. Daniels; Larken Egleston; Alex Heroy; Terry Lansdell; Hollis Nixon; Larry Springs; Nathan Taylor; and James Lee Walker.
Council will appoint Kinsey’s successor, who must be a Democrat. The replacement will be considered at next week’s City Council meeting.
Kinsey has already said she plans to run again for her District 1 seat during this fall’s Council elections. Both Maddalon and Hildreth said they will not seek to challenge Kinsey, whom they said has been a good representative for the district.