Commissioner At- Large Arthur Griffin, Jr.

What steps will you take (or have you taken) to ensure LGBTQ+ people are included in decision-making, including on advisory boards and commissions?

Diversity and equity at all tables are critical to ensuring that we have the needed voices during decision making, specifically around policy. To create this pathway, respecting differences and authentic relationship building is key in also matching the needed skill set to the role. Having partnered with the LGBTQ+ community since the onset of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the early 80’s, as the Chair of the Health and Human Services committee, I have proactively built authentic relationships within the LGBTQ+ community with needed partners in this continued fight to eradicate this disease. During my first term, I worked collaboratively with Malcolm Davis, Chelsea Gulden, Dr. Allysha Maraugh-Bass at Duke University, and others to ensure meaningful access to quality healthcare.

How would you rate the County's efforts in addressing rising cases of HIV/AIDS in Mecklenburg County? Please provide a rating of "Very Poor", "Below Average", "Average", "Above Average" or "Excellent", and why you provided this rating.
Do you support expanding the"Getting to Zero" Campaign for Mecklenburg County?

Based on the data available to me at this point, I would rate Mecklenburg County’s efforts in addressing HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care as “average.” I reached this rating by giving Mecklenburg County above average for making treatment available for newly diagnosed HIV cases and below average for creative intervention and prevention strategies to discourage behaviors associated with the acquisition of newly diagnosed HIV cases. Mecklenburg County’s HIV rate per 100,000 is twice that of the State of North Carolina and on average 70% of the newly diagnosed HIV cases are from the African American population.

Do you support expanding the “Getting to Zero” Campaign for Mecklenburg County? 

Absolutely, we are the only county in North Carolina cited by the Centers for Disease Control as an “Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) site. Over the last 3 years we averaged about 278 newly diagnosed HIV cases per year. 

What actions do you support (or have you supported) to ensure people have equitable access (including transportation and housing) to jobs that provide a living wage, including supporting minority-owned businesses? How are you addressing the Leandro ruling to ensure equitable access to education? 

High-quality, good paying jobs has been my primary focus from Day One. I believe we have a tremendous opportunity to better connect our residents who are unemployed or underemployed with the job training they need for our region's employers. I am proud that the Board agreed with my advocacy to make Workforce Development a top priority and we will be rolling our new initiatives in a few months. We should work to target these efforts in communities experiencing more barriers to economic mobility.

Regarding transportation, as Chair of the MTC, I am pushing hard to expand mass transit options. A well functioning public transit system is necessary to give equitable access to opportunity, protect our quality of life, attract new economic development, and preserve the environment.

In reference to the Leandro ruling, Mecklenburg BOCC allocates nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars to CMS. It is the single biggest line item in our budget and I'm proud of that commitment. Our public schools must also implement effective strategic plans to improve student outcomes and closely monitor progress in reducing acute academic disparities.

As a CMS parent, a product of public schools, and a lifelong Democrat, I strongly support public school funding while mindful of our obligation to balance many costly priorities we have such as affordable housing, the environment, and public health. 

What will you do (or have you done) to maintain equitable access to green spaces and parks in Mecklenburg County? What plans do you have to ensure affordable housing is accessible to Mecklenburg County residents?

During my first year as a County Commissioner, I supported the approval of 1043 units of affordable housing (30%,60%,80% AMI) for residents of Mecklenburg County. We cannot build our way out of this crisis; therefore, I am focusing on upward mobility so more of our young residents will be able to afford a place to live in Mecklenburg County. Also, I supported thirty-seven park projects totaling $448 million dollars. With a focus on older neighborhoods such as Tuckaseegee Park, Berryhill Park, Wilmore, Oakhurst, and Wallace Pruitt and seven greenway expansions

What actions do you
support (or have you supported) to ensure people have equitable access to jobs that provide a living wage, including supporting minority-owned businesses? How are you addressing racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities to ensure equitable outcomes for students in our public schools, including through adequate funding?

According to Mecklenburg County’s own research, there was a 16% increase ($19.50/$22.69) in hourly wages necessary to rent a one-bedroom apartment at FMR. As a result, I have asked the County Manager to report on the budget’s impact if we raised our minimum wage from $20 to $23 per hour. I advocated for Meck Success 2.0 and was successful in getting the County to provide additional county funding to retool a failing upward mobility program, which includes additional families. Meck Success 2.0 will focus on fifty families with wraparound services with the goal of acquiring a living-wage job after 2-5 years of intense support. After pointing out the disconnect between qualifying for newly created  living-wage jobs and the deep disparity in job preparation opportunity;  I advocated for an alignment between our MWBE program and our unified workforce development program graduates with newly created community living-wage  jobs and minority business opportunities resulting from our Business Incentive Program Grants to businesses deciding to open shop in Mecklenburg County. I fully supported funding of the 2023-2024 CMS operations funding this cycle. I continue to support the community’s education value of graduating our high school seniors ready for college and/or careers. In 2017, after 18 months of study, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community (Leading on Opportunity) embraced college and career readiness as the community’s education value. I continue to advocate for evidenced-based learning to narrow the college and career readiness gap in CMS. As a former Chair of CPCC’s Academic and Student Success committee, it was quite evident that more work needs to occur for our students to be college or career ready and especially our Black and Brown students.

In 2020, the County Commission declared racism a public health crisis. What steps do you support (or have you supported) to address the racial inequities that exist in Mecklenburg County? These include but are not limited to environmental racism, overpolicing, and healthcare access.

As a new member of the Mecklenburg County Commission, I was surprised to learn that we have a County Commission goal to eliminate or reduce racial and ethnic disparities, but no specific racial and ethnic gaps identified to be targeted and closed. As a result, I have asked the County Manager to identify racial and ethnic gaps in our six budget priorities during our scheduled retreat. As Chair of the Health and Human Services committee, I am focused on identifying health disparities (HIV, Chronic Diseases, Infant Mortality, etc.) and solutions to reduce or eliminate those disparities. I am working in collaboration with UNCC Urban Institute and local health partners.

Any other accomplishments or priorities you'd like our Scorecard Committee to consider?

I advocated for and received approval for two mobile food trucks to provide fresh produce and vegetables for high rise residential seniors unable to travel to markets. Also, a new mobile health van to be used in support of improving access to healthcare where transportation is a challenge.

Managing for results is a management style that I hope to get the county to adopt this cycle. For example, we spent $37 million for PreK services, and we do not know how many of our funded PreK students are deemed ready for kindergarten. We can do better.