Voters cast their ballot for candidates in Charlotte’s local elections earlier today and voted on a referendum that would support parks, arts and education through a small sales tax hike.
At the Myers Park Traditional Elementary School, the closest polling station to Queens University, local residents trickled in and out of the gym where voting was taking place. Campaign staff members stood surrounded by signs offering information to passersby.
Up for election this year are seats on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education and 11 seats on the Charlotte City Council as well as the referendum, which involves a .25 percent increase in the sales tax to fund arts, parks and education.
Voters interviewed this morning said that the tax increase was at the top of their lists.
“I’m concerned about the public schools,’’ said Charles Bryan, a Charlotte banker. “I’m also against the tax for the arts, even though I’m a big supporter of the arts.’’ He said that the arts should be funded instead by contributors and corporations. “If you add to the sales tax, you’re going to take out of the pocket of people who can barely afford to live,’’ he added.
Former Olympic Handballer Pete Lash was going to make sure his voice was heard at the polls today. “The taxpayer should not be responsible for paying for the arts,’’ he said.
Jordan Pineda, a nonpartisan candidate for the School Board agreed.
“I voted for the tax increase,’’ he said. “But I don’t really believe in it. I am not convinced it will work.” His experience includes teaching English in the Charlotte- Mecklenburg Schools and working as a recruiter for Teach for America.
Liz Shuford, a concerned Myers Park voter, said that the arts tax and the mayor’s race were the two main issues in her mind. Shuford said that she is a supporter of Vi Lyles, the current mayor. She and her husband came to vote with their dog, their “trusty voting friend.”
Many residents said that even though this was not a major election that they came out today to exercise their right to vote. Lash said that he votes every election. “I am confident in what I believe is right and wrong,” he said.
Others, who dashed in and out without stopping to answer questions, said only that they were taking the time out of a busy day to vote because making their voices heard is important for democracy.
As she entered the polling area in her bright red jacket and matching lipstick, Nancy Blaine, a Myers Park resident in her 80s, said she votes enthusiastically every year and has since she was 21. “Dwight Eisenhower was the first Republican I voted for, but I didn’t vote for the last one.”
Reported on by Mill Albury, Cristina Cabrera-Barrientos, Alice Cristea, Jordan Grantz, Jessica Higgins, Khalil Howard, Jeannette Jones, Xziyah Lawrence, Bennett Maczca, Zahnell Pinnock, and Grace Wesoly. Written by Grantz and Jones. Photo by Cristea.