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Foxx talks about city issues in town hall chat

By Steve Harrison
[email protected]
Posted: Thursday, Dec. 02, 2010

Nearing his one-year anniversary in office, Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx took questions Wednesday night from a mostly friendly crowd of 150 residents at the Charlotte Museum of History, discussing the prospects of landing the Democratic National Convention, school closings and efforts to end homelessness.

In perhaps a nod to next November, in which Foxx will be up for re-election, the Democratic mayor listed some of his accomplishments at the start of the forum, including a bailout for the county’s libraries and efforts to consolidate city and county government.

Foxx said that if the City Council hadn’t given the libraries $1.4 million, as many as 16 branches could have been closed. After the bailout, all but three library branches were kept open, at least for a year.

“That is a lifeline,” said Foxx, who has not yet drawn an opponent for the election in 11 months.

When asked about prospects for landing the convention, Foxx declined to handicap the race between Charlotte, Cleveland, St. Louis and Minneapolis. He jokingly compared the contest to the TV show “The Bachelor,” but said the city “shows well” to visitors.

The mayor received at least two questions about east Charlotte, especially when compared to more successful areas such as uptown.

Foxx said a key to reviving east Charlotte is how Independence Boulevard is rebuilt, and how the surrounding neighborhoods adapt to the highway becoming a freeway. Foxx said he recently was awarded a fellowship from the Urban Land Institute, a national group that once worked with the city on a plan to remake Eastland Mall. He said he was allowed to study any city related issue, and chose to study the Independence area.

Foxx said that a streetcar would do much for east and west Charlotte economically. The city earlier this year won a $25 million grant to build a 1.5-mile streetcar line on Elizabeth Avenue, but the project is years from reaching the more struggling neighborhoods in east Charlotte. The Charlotte Area Transit System has said it can’t pay for the line, meaning the city will have to rely on a federal grant.

One resident asked Foxx about how the city is helping low-income residents, including immigrants and refugees. Foxx said a $15 million bond approved by voters last month will help build more homes. He also said he’s trying to bring all groups together to make sure the efforts of nonprofits, philanthropies and governments are coordinated.