- Associated Press - Saturday, October 31, 2015

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - The revolving door into the mayor’s office in Charlotte will take another spin next week when voters choose that city’s fifth chief executive in the last six years.

Tuesday’s vote will determine whether Democrat Jennifer Roberts or Republican Edwin Peacock will lead the city into a new period following the downfall of their predecessor because of a corruption scandal.

Between 1979 and 2009, Charlotte elected five mayors, including current North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory. The winner of Tuesday’s election will be the fifth mayor in the last six years, either elected or appointed.

Anthony Foxx was mayor when the 2012 Democratic National Convention came to town and nominated President Barack Obama to a second term. Soon, Foxx followed Obama to Washington to become U.S. transportation secretary.

Then-city councilwoman Patsy Kinsey became interim mayor after being appointed by her peers until the next election, when Patrick Cannon was voted into office in November 2013.

Cannon, who defeated Peacock to become mayor, would soon become ensnared in a scandal that rocked the city. He resigned from office the following March after he was arrested and accused of taking more than $48,000 in bribes from undercover FBI agents posing as businessmen who wanted to do work with North Carolina’s largest city.

Three months later, Cannon pleaded guilty to a single count of honest services wire fraud. He was sentenced to 44 months in prison. Dan Clodfelter, a former city councilman and state senator, was appointed to replace Cannon. Clodfelter ran in the Democratic mayoral primary, but lost to Roberts in a runoff.

Roberts said she thinks people look more at the overall history of the mayor’s office and aren’t fazed by the Cannon scandal.

“I think most people, when they look at the history of Charlotte and look at the way local officials have interacted with the public and with the business community, they feel more confident in the transparency and the collaboration” she said.

Peacock described the Cannon scandal as “the wake-up call of 2014.”

“It underscores that leadership matters,” Roberts said. “It underscores that the position of mayor and our county and our city and our state are incredibly important. And I believe that voters who have chosen not to participate in local elections are participating as a result of what happened.”

Roberts, who was born in Raleigh and raised in Charlotte, was a Morehead Scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The mother of two worked in the U.S. State Department for four years, eventually returning to Charlotte to become chairman of the Mecklenburg County Commissioners.

Peacock is a Charlotte native who is a financial representative for a local company. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia who served on the board of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Development Corp. He has two children.

In his vision for Charlotte, Peacock points to public safety, mass transit planning, a stronger economy, technology and education as the focal points of what would be his administration. He said he would encourage City Council members to hold meetings in each of the city’s seven districts, and to do ride-alongs with Charlotte-Mecklenburg police.

“We have a good starting point to work from. Certainly, disagreements are going to come,” Peacock said. “But I think what people are really looking for is a leader that’s going to fix problems and find solutions on a local level and not working on partisanship like we see in Raleigh and in Washington.”

Roberts touts her experience in local government and regional agencies and statewide boards as strengths she could carry into the mayor’s office.

“The big-picture experience, representing our county to state and federal legislators, being that advocate, being that salesperson, being that spokesperson, I think it’s pretty unique training for going into the position of being mayor and being that spokesperson for the city,” she said.

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