Ben Copeland Charlotte City Council At-Large
Candidate's Questionnaire Answers:
How will you ensure LGBTQ+ people are fairly represented on advisory boards and commissions? Do you support the creation of an LGBTQ+ Liaison on staff to better communicate and represent LGBTQ+ issues within the City Manager's office?
I am committed to fostering a truly inclusive and representative government that values and acknowledges the diversity of our community. In order to ensure LGBTQ+ people are fairly represented on advisory boards and commissions, I will take the following steps:
1. Actively Seek LGBTQ+ Representation: I will proactively seek out qualified individuals from the LGBTQ+ community to serve on advisory boards and commissions. This will involve reaching out to LGBTQ+ organizations and community leaders to encourage participation.
2. Diverse Outreach and Recruitment: To ensure a broad and diverse pool of candidates, I will implement outreach and recruitment strategies that target underrepresented communities, including LGBTQ+ individuals.
3. LGBTQ+ Liaison on Staff: I fully support the creation of an LGBTQ+ Liaison within the City Manager's office. This role will help ensure that LGBTQ+ issues are effectively communicated, understood, and represented in government discussions and decision-making processes.
4. Promote Inclusivity Training: I will advocate for inclusivity training for all members of advisory boards and commissions. This training will promote a deeper understanding of LGBTQ+ issues and create an environment where all perspectives are respected and considered.
5. Transparent Processes: I will work to make the appointment and selection processes for advisory boards and commissions transparent and accessible to all members of the public, including those from the LGBTQ+ community. 6. Regular Community Engagement: I will hold regular town halls, forums, and community meetings specifically focused on LGBTQ+ issues to ensure ongoing dialogue and feedback.
7. Anti-Discrimination Policies: I will push for strong anti-discrimination policies within government agencies to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ employees and citizens.
By implementing these measures, I am confident that we can create an inclusive and representative government that values the input and voices of all individuals, including those from the LGBTQ+ community.
What will you do (or have you done) to address the affordable housing crisis that plagues Charlotte? What plans do you have to ensure Charlotte develops sustainably for future generations?
Addressing the affordable housing crisis and ensuring sustainable development are crucial challenges for our city's future. According to Redfin.com, the median sale price of a home in June 2023 in Charlotte was $425,000. In January of 2020 before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the median home sale price in Charlotte was $253,000. In three and a half years, the median home price in Charlotte has increased by $172,000 which is extremely concerning and unsustainable. As a member of Gen Z, I understand the extreme danger of this continued explosive growth and the ramifications it will have on every Charlottean's life. As a prospective member of the Council, my commitment to these issues is unwavering, and I will take the following concrete actions to tackle them effectively:
1. Comprehensive Affordable Housing Strategy: I will work towards creating a comprehensive and well-defined affordable housing strategy that includes both short-term and long-term solutions. This strategy will involve collaborating with experts, community organizations, and stakeholders to develop practical and sustainable goals.
2. Innovative Zoning and Housing Ordinances: I will advocate for the introduction of innovative zoning and housing ordinances that encourage the development of affordable housing in various areas of the city. These ordinances will prioritize mixed-income communities, ensuring that affordable housing is integrated into different neighborhoods.
3. Preserving Green Spaces and Parks: It is crucial to protect our green spaces and parks to maintain the quality of life for our residents. I will champion efforts to preserve and enhance these areas, ensuring that they remain accessible to all members of the community.
4. Investment in Renovation and Enhancements: I will push for strategic investments in the renovation and enhancement of existing affordable housing units. This will help preserve the stock of affordable housing while improving its quality and accessibility.
5. New Sustainable Housing Projects: In addition to renovating existing units, I will work to support the construction of new affordable housing projects that meet environmental sustainability standards. This will involve utilizing eco-friendly building materials and energy-efficient technologies.
6. Accessible Public Transportation: To ensure that affordable housing is well-connected and accessible, I will advocate for improved public transportation options, including low-emission modes of transit. This will provide residents with convenient access to employment centers, schools, and essential services.
7. Equitable Investment in Under-Invested Communities: I recognize the historical disparities in investment and development in certain communities. I will prioritize equitable investment in neglected and historically under-invested areas to foster growth and opportunity for all residents.
8. Inclusive Community Engagement: I will actively engage with the communities affected by these issues, including communities of color and other marginalized groups. Their input and perspectives will be essential in shaping effective policies and strategies.
By combining these efforts, we can make meaningful progress in addressing the affordable housing crisis and ensure that Charlotte develops sustainably for the benefit of current and future generations.
What actions do you support (or have you supported) to ensure people's jobs pay a wage sufficient enough to live and thrive in Charlotte? What next steps and investments do you support to strengthen the Corridors of Opportunity?
Creating jobs that provide a living wage and ensuring inclusive and sustainable economic development are vital to the prosperity of Charlotte. To achieve these goals, I am dedicated to the following actions and investments:
1. Living Wage Advocacy: I support advocating for policies that promote a living wage for all workers in Charlotte. This will involve collaborating with businesses, community organizations, and local leaders to set standards for fair wages that enable individuals and families to live and thrive in our city.
2. Strengthening the Corridors of Opportunity: The Corridors of Opportunity program holds significant promise in addressing historical disparities in investment. I will work to strengthen this initiative by evaluating its impact, identifying areas of improvement, and ensuring that it benefits under-invested communities, particularly communities of color.
3. Balancing Economic Success and Community Preservation: While economic growth and new investments are essential, we must not forget the importance of preserving the history, culture, and community of areas like Camp North End. I will strive to strike a balance between creating opportunities for economic success and ensuring that growth does not lead to the displacement of residents and the erasure of community identity.
4. Equitable Investments: I will support continued leadership in the work initiated by Council member Malcolm Graham and Mayor Vi Lyles. We need to prioritize equitable investments that address the needs of underprivileged communities, including affordable housing, improved public services, and transportation options.
5. Community Engagement and Accountability: As a member of the Council, I will actively engage with the community, including residents and stakeholders in the affected neighborhoods. I will ensure their voices are heard in the decision-making process and that investments align with the community's needs and aspirations.
6. Preventing Displacement: It is crucial to implement policies and strategies that prevent the displacement of current residents in the process of development and growth. This includes efforts to provide affordable housing options, protection against gentrification, and supporting long-term residents.
7. Addressing Critical Services: As we invest in economic development, we must also address critical services like schools, transportation, public safety, parks, and grocery stores. This ensures that the changing landscape benefits all residents and avoids creating "food deserts" or other gaps in essential services.
By taking these actions and investments, we can build a stronger and more inclusive Charlotte where everyone has access to quality jobs, affordable housing, and opportunities to thrive.
What specific actions do you support (or have you supported) to address the racial inequities and lack of economic mobility in Charlotte?
Addressing racial inequities and promoting economic mobility in Charlotte is a multi-faceted challenge that demands a comprehensive and targeted approach. To make a meaningful impact, I advocate for the following specific actions:
1. Accessible Education and Skills Training: I support investing in educational programs that provide accessible learning opportunities and skills training for all members of the community, with a particular focus on marginalized groups. This includes partnerships between government, educational institutions, and private businesses to equip individuals with the necessary skills for the evolving job market.
2. Economic Empowerment through Homeownership: Recognizing the significance of homeownership in building economic wealth, I will work to expand programs that promote affordable housing and homeownership opportunities, especially in underprivileged communities.
3. Promoting Good-Paying Jobs: I support fostering an environment that attracts businesses offering good-paying jobs. This will involve strategic economic development efforts and collaboration between the government and private sector to create a diverse range of employment opportunities.
4. Investment in Infrastructure: To support business growth and job creation, I will advocate for investments in critical infrastructure, including roads, rail, transit, and air terminals. These enhancements will help attract and retain institutions that contribute to the city's economic development.
5. Inclusive Economic Development Planning: I believe in developing a balanced plan that prioritizes investing in the community's people while fostering an environment conducive to business growth. Inclusive economic development planning should consider the needs and aspirations of all residents, with a focus on addressing historical racial inequalities.
6. Transparency and Accountability: To ensure the success of these efforts, I will advocate for transparency and accountability in the allocation of funds and resources. Community engagement and input will be vital in shaping and evaluating the effectiveness of these initiatives.
7. Long-Term Commitment: Solving racial inequities and promoting economic mobility is a long-term endeavor. I am committed to persevering in these efforts, even as challenges arise, and to continuously reevaluate and refine our strategies to achieve lasting change.
By pursuing these specific actions and engaging in partnerships between government, businesses, and community organizations, we can work towards a more equitable and prosperous Charlotte, where everyone has the opportunity to thrive and achieve their full potential. The commitment to addressing racial inequalities must be at the foundation of our vision for success as a community.
What actions do you support (or have you supported) to create a transportation network that provides people with efficient, affordable, and timely options to get around the city? What steps do you believe are necessary to address the inefficiencies and safety issues with CATS?
Creating an efficient, affordable, and safe transportation network is crucial for the well-being and economic development of Charlotte. To achieve this goal, I am committed to the following actions and steps:
1. Transportation System Study and Commission: I support conducting a comprehensive study of the transportation system, involving a commission that includes community leaders and residents. This study will enable us to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the current system, gather feedback from the community, and address the inefficiencies and safety issues within CATS.
2. Listening to the Community: Intentional listening to the needs and concerns of residents is essential in improving the transportation system. I believe in engaging in meaningful dialogue with the community to understand what is working well, what is missing, and how we can better meet the needs of Charlotteans.
3. Accessibility and Affordability: As we plan for the transportation network, I will prioritize accessibility and affordability. It's crucial to ensure that transportation options are easily accessible to all residents, regardless of their economic status. Offering affordable transit services will play a vital role in maximizing ridership and meeting the needs of the community.
4. Leveraging Low-Emission Transit Services: I support exploring and implementing low-emission and no-emission transit options to promote sustainability and reduce our carbon footprint. This will contribute to a cleaner and more environmentally-friendly transportation network.
5. Integration with Corridors of Opportunity: As we develop transportation infrastructure, it is vital to consider the growth and development plans in the Corridors of Opportunity. Integrating transportation solutions into these areas will enhance accessibility, create economic opportunities, and support lower and middle-class families in their daily commute.
6. Cost-Efficiency and Safety Improvements: I recognize the ongoing debate around the cost of CATS and the importance of enhancing safety and security in the system. I will work diligently to find innovative solutions that drive down costs while improving safety measures, ensuring that our public transportation remains viable and reliable for those who rely on it.
7. Supportive Economic Development: Investing in transportation infrastructure can be a catalyst for economic development. I will advocate for transportation solutions that support and boost economic growth, providing efficient connections between businesses, residential areas, and key facilities.
8. Long-Term Viability and Reliability: Our transportation system must be designed for long-term viability and reliability. I will work to ensure that our planning and investments create a sustainable and dependable transportation network that meets the needs of current and future generations.
By taking these actions and steps, I am confident that we can build a transportation network that serves as a backbone for our city's growth, promotes inclusivity, and enhances the overall quality of life for all residents. As a prospective member of the Council, I am committed to driving positive change and making a lasting impact on the transportation infrastructure in Charlotte.