This election is more than just about our next President. Our local elections will determine the path we take in advancing racial equity in our local communities. We've asked candidates running for local government in Wake and Mecklenburg where they stand on these important issues. 

The ACLU of NC is a non-partisan organization that believes that voters should be fully informed about the civil liberties’ records of candidates before casting a ballot. We do not endorse or oppose candidates for office. We believe in educating voters about the issues at stake in key elections. Our voter education work is designed to protect and advance civil rights and civil liberties. 

Click here to view the full scorecard as a PDF.

Cuadro de respuestas de candidatos en español esta aqui. 

Please note: This questionnaire was sent to all candidates running for Board of Commissioners. We have only included the responses of candidates who responded to our questionnaire. The candidates listed below are those who responded. If a candidate is not listed, it means that they did not respond to our request or declined to participate. 

 

In addition to capturing YES and NO responses, we gave every candidate the opportunity to share additional thoughts for each question. Additional information provided by candidates is below.

1. Pat Cotham (At-large)

Q.Pat Cotham (At-large)
A.
  • Will you support efforts to decrease law enforcement budgets and reinvest those dollars in community resources such as improving access to mental health, addiction, and homelessness services, as well as investments in funding recreational centers, trauma centers, and forgivable loans for Black-owned businesses? 

No. The only Law Enforcement is the Sheriff's Office. State Law is clear that the Sheriff reports to the people not to us. Your above question doesn't acknowledge all the rules with moving different types of funds so I have to say no.


  • Will you commit to working with the County Sheriff's Department to expand the use of citations instead of arrest warrants for lower-level charges? 

Yes. Your question ignores the relationship with the Sheriff. I only said yes because I believe he is doing it already. If he is not doing it, The BOCC cannot force him.


  • Will you commit to encouraging and supporting pretrial services, and seek funding to expand pretrial services in your county?

Yes. I have always supported pretrial services from years before I became a commissioner.


  • Do you commit to making private and public contracts with national law enforcement, medical services, and teleconference publicly available? And in addition to that, will you commit to holding public hearings on intergovernmental agreements? 

No. National Law Enforcement-what are you talking about?? Also Medical services? The manager has intergovernmental agreements often.


  • Will you commit to working with the Sheriff's Department to ensure community transparency and accountability? 

Yes. He is already doing that. We cannot demand he do anything.


  • Will you work with the superintendent and school system to create an alternative to having police officers in schools? 

No. We are not involved with the operations of the school system. If we were, we would change a lot of things.

2. Leigh Altman (At-large)

Q.Leigh Altman (At-large)
A.
  • Will you support efforts to decrease law enforcement budgets and reinvest those dollars in community resources such as improving access to mental health, addiction, and homelessness services, as well as investments in funding recreational centers, trauma centers, and forgivable loans for Black-owned businesses? 

No. I am not an advocate of diminishing law enforcement as it plays a critical role in public safety for all of us, including our most fragile neighborhoods. As it is, law enforcement struggles to fill all open positions with the best and brightest to this incredibly stressful job. But I do want better law enforcement. I want a CMPD which is less militarized and better cross-resourced to/collaborating with local expertise in the health, social, and emotional needs of our residents. As a society, we have delegated the first response to those in distress to law enforcement even where a social worker or medical professional would be much more appropriate. I wholly support reshaping the working relationship and methods of collaboration between law enforcement and relevant agencies in health and human services to render an appropriate, proportional, and humane response to people in crisis.


  • Will you commit to working with the County Sheriff's Department to expand the use of citations instead of arrest warrants for lower-level charges? 

Yes. I support allowing people who are not a public safety or flight risk to continue to work and to take care of their dependents until their court date when their case can be adjudicated.


  • Will you commit to encouraging and supporting pretrial services, and seek funding to expand pretrial services in your county?

Yes. I would support additional funding for expanded pretrial services.


  • Do you commit to making private and public contracts with national law enforcement, medical services, and teleconference publicly available? And in addition to that, will you commit to holding public hearings on intergovernmental agreements? 

Yes. As a general rule, I would expect that any contract entered into by a governmental entity would be subject to North Carolina's Public Records Law, although it is possible there exist limited exceptions under the law. I believe the public's access to the government's business is sacrosanct and would want to ensure strict compliance with the spirit and letter of North Carolina's Public Records Law.


  • Will you commit to working with the Sheriff's Department to ensure community transparency and accountability? 

Yes. 


  • Will you work with the superintendent and school system to create an alternative to having police officers in schools? 

No. School resource officers should never be used to discipline students, but I support them being on campus to protect physical safety.

3. Friday Paul Okure (D3)

Q.Friday Paul Okure (D3)
A.
  • Will you support efforts to decrease law enforcement budgets and reinvest those dollars in community resources such as improving access to mental health, addiction, and homelessness services, as well as investments in funding recreational centers, trauma centers, and forgivable loans for Black-owned businesses? 

No response. Each of these departments has its annual budget. I will ensure the board, along with an advisory board's recommendation, decreases funding where neccessary and increases funding in departments that need and require more funding.


  • Will you commit to working with the County Sheriff's Department to expand the use of citations instead of arrest warrants for lower-level charges? 

Yes. I am proposing a Sheriff-Community Focus group, with three sheriffs, six district leaders, and six faith community leaders for quarterly transparency & accountability reports.


  • Will you commit to encouraging and supporting pretrial services, and seek funding to expand pretrial services in your county?

No. While pretrial may be critical in certain cases, most of the time a pretrial is not required to administer justice. Both the defendant and prosecutor should be able to deliberate in their client-counsel within the given time by the judge and conduct a trial with justifiable verdict.


  • Do you commit to making private and public contracts with national law enforcement, medical services, and teleconference publicly available? And in addition to that, will you commit to holding public hearings on intergovernmental agreements? 

No response. I am running on an inclusive commissionership, which means my constituents' voices and values will be held and considered, and some will serve on the advisory board. So I am committed to a transparency county commission, except where the law forbids due to classified information, etc.


  • Will you commit to working with the Sheriff's Department to ensure community transparency and accountability? 

Yes. As a proponent of inclusive governance, I am proposing a Sheriff-Community Focus group, with three sheriffs, six district leaders, and six faith community leaders for quarterly transparency & accountability reports.


  • Will you work with the superintendent and school system to create an alternative to having police officers in schools? 

No. As a volunteer and parent of current CMS students, the presence of Resource Officers has been a welcoming first impression/ exposure between these young scholars and the officers. I will, however, oppose any attempt to utilize them as social service workers or criminal prosecutors. The school serves students' learning. Students must learn without fear or intimidation. The officers' role is to aid a peaceful learning environment and serve as first responders during emergencies.

4. Mark Jerrell (D4)

Q.Mark Jerrell (D4)
A.
  • Will you support efforts to decrease law enforcement budgets and reinvest those dollars in community resources such as improving access to mental health, addiction, and homelessness services, as well as investments in funding recreational centers, trauma centers, and forgivable loans for Black-owned businesses? 

Yes. I think it is important to "re-direct" the current dollars allocated for the purposes outlined above.


  • Will you commit to working with the County Sheriff's Department to expand the use of citations instead of arrest warrants for lower-level charges? 

Yes. 


  • Will you commit to encouraging and supporting pretrial services, and seek funding to expand pretrial services in your county?

Yes. 


  • Do you commit to making private and public contracts with national law enforcement, medical services, and teleconference publicly available? And in addition to that, will you commit to holding public hearings on intergovernmental agreements? 

Yes. I am Chair of our Inter-Governmental Relations Committee and remain committed to transparency at all levels of Government, as well as, working to stop the current culture of working in silos.


  • Will you commit to working with the Sheriff's Department to ensure community transparency and accountability? 

Yes.


  • Will you work with the superintendent and school system to create an alternative to having police officers in schools? 

Yes. 

5. Laura Meier (D5)

Q.Laura Meier (D5)
A.
  • Will you support efforts to decrease law enforcement budgets and reinvest those dollars in community resources such as improving access to mental health, addiction, and homelessness services, as well as investments in funding recreational centers, trauma centers, and forgivable loans for Black-owned businesses? 

Yes. We ask our police officers to be everything to everybody. Mental Health issues have become criminalized, along with substance abuse and homelessness. We need to give our most vulnerable residents resources--as in recreational centers, trauma centers, high-speed broadband--to help them be successful. We absolutely must support our Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs with forgivable loans.


  • Will you commit to working with the County Sheriff's Department to expand the use of citations instead of arrest warrants for lower-level charges? 

Yes. We are filling our jails with low-level offenders who have no business being in jail. I support citations over arrests; we have to cease putting these residents, mostly who are People of Color and living in poverty, through the court system, which we all know is difficult to emerge from.


  • Will you commit to encouraging and supporting pretrial services, and seek funding to expand pretrial services in your county?

Yes. I would support updating and possibly expanding pretrial services in Mecklenburg County, and I would be very interested in what these expansions would be. I don't believe all defendants should stay in detention awaiting trial, which often is a violation of their liberties. It also increases unnecessary jail costs for the taxpayer. Furthermore, People of Color are more likely to be detained before trial than their white counterparts, and people with behavioral health needs are better served outside the jail system. Finally, meeting bail is a hardship that cannot be easily overcome, and therefore those people in poverty are unfairly left in detention.


  • Do you commit to making private and public contracts with national law enforcement, medical services, and teleconference publicly available? And in addition to that, will you commit to holding public hearings on intergovernmental agreements? 

Yes. Transparency is a necessary function of government to gain and keep the trust of the people it serves. I fully support and commit to transparency in governmental meetings, contracts, hearings, etc.


  • Will you commit to working with the Sheriff's Department to ensure community transparency and accountability? 

Yes. I fully support transparency and accountability in government, and in particular with the Sheriff's Department. There is great mistrust of policing and of the justice system--rightfully so. Therefore, to gain the trust of the people the government serves, we have to open the lines of communication and show that we are willing to be fully transparent. And as a commissioner, I will hold the Sheriff's Department--and any department the board oversees--accountable.


  • Will you work with the superintendent and school system to create an alternative to having police officers in schools? 

Yes. I am completely in support of removing School Resource Officers. The police can oftentimes elevate an already-tense situation. The SROs are the very first step in the school-to-prison pipeline and so thus must be removed. They should be replaced by personnel who are trained to deescalate a situation, to counsel toward healing, and to provide therapeutic and social services rather than punitive measures. Every situation is different. But the change in police officers on campus is the first step toward stopping the pipeline.

6. Susan Rodriguez McDowell (D6)

Q.Susan Rodriguez McDowell (D6)
A.
  • Will you support efforts to decrease law enforcement budgets and reinvest those dollars in community resources such as improving access to mental health, addiction, and homelessness services, as well as investments in funding recreational centers, trauma centers, and forgivable loans for Black-owned businesses? 

No response. I support directing funds away from militarizing law enforcement and toward extensive training, recruiting and retention of officers who prove themselves to be worthy of the public trust. As a Commissioner, I have had the honor and pleasure of attending CMPD's CIT (Crisis Intervention Training) sessions and graduations. I believe trainings like this and others are effective and should be broadened widely and be ongoing, not a one and done. In addition, I absolutely support investing funds in the critical community resources listed above and more. Investing in people, education, and restorative justice is long overdue.


  • Will you commit to working with the County Sheriff's Department to expand the use of citations instead of arrest warrants for lower-level charges? 

Yes. 


  • Will you commit to encouraging and supporting pretrial services, and seek funding to expand pretrial services in your county?

Yes. 


  • Do you commit to making private and public contracts with national law enforcement, medical services, and teleconference publicly available? And in addition to that, will you commit to holding public hearings on intergovernmental agreements? 

No response. I support transparency and public engagement, but I do not have specific knowledge of the items listed above and therefore cannot make promises.


  • Will you commit to working with the Sheriff's Department to ensure community transparency and accountability? 

Yes. I support Sheriff McFadden because I believe he has proven himself to be on the side of the people and an utmost professional. Having said that, I think it is always correct to "check" powerful institutions and people. We are all accountable to the community for our actions, especially elected officials. We need to always be open to seeing flaws, truth, and if there is need for improvement. The public trust must be earned.


  • Will you work with the superintendent and school system to create an alternative to having police officers in schools? 

Yes. I support funding counselors, psychologists, and social workers in our schools. Our students need to be supported and educated.