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Foxx questions Pat McCrory's commitment to public schools
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Speaking to a group in west Charlotte Tuesday, Mayor Anthony Foxx said Pat McCrory, his Republican predecessor who's now running for governor, is weak on education and would likely favor a voter ID law. (Photo: Glenn H. Burkins for Qcitymetro.com)

Speaking to a group in west Charlotte Tuesday, Mayor Anthony Foxx questioned whether former Mayor Pat McCrory is committed to funding public education and called McCrory’s quest for the governor’s office “the most important race no one is watching.”

Foxx, a Democrat, made the remarks about his Republican predecessor while speaking to several dozen people at the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Forum.

Foxx said he had seen McCrory in previous years “raise a fuss” about the city spending money on after-school programs.

"If education matters to you, I don't think there's really a choice," Foxx told his audience. "For someone to be mayor of the city for 14 years and have so little to say about education all of a sudden to be put in charge of running education for the state, I just think that’s going to be a challenge. Let’s not just vote for someone because we know their name.”

McCrory was first elected mayor of Charlotte in 1995 and was re-elected six additional times, a record for the city. In 2008, he lost in a race to become governor to Democrat Bev Perdue and is running this year against Lieutenant Gov. Walter Dalton, also a Democrat.

When called for a comment Wednesday, a spokesman in McCrory's Raleigh campaign office said he would call back later with a statement but did not. A second call went unanswered by the spokesman.

At the Tuesday forum, Foxx said that unlike some other Southern states, North Carolina did not have a controversial voter ID law because Perdue vetoed Republican efforts to enact one into state law. He questioned whether McCrory would have vetoed such a bill.

“If you elect a governor who supports voter ID laws, you’re not going to see the type of opportunity for people to get out and vote that they currently have,” Foxx said. “Pat McCrory has come out in support of that.”

During an hour-long Q&A, Foxx also spoke about:

President Obama’s chances in North Carolina
“I think the president has a great chance of winning North Carolina. Having said that, he is going to be running against a mountain of money. The Supreme Court has basically opened the floodgates on corporate giving in the campaigns. I don’t mean to suggest that this is going to be an easy election; I just feel that on the ground there is an energy level that is going to push the president over the edge.”

The Democratic National Convention
“I grew up about half a mile or so from where we’re sitting right now. I can remember my grandmother talking about her grandmother, who was a slave, who had been sold in Carthage, North Carolina. My grandmother still talks about her grandmother. To think that over five generations my family has come from that auction block in Carthage to leading the largest city in North Carolina. It makes an example of what all of us are doing and can do in our lives, and particularly for young people. It’s my hope that this convention reaches deeply into young people and gives them a sense of what is possible for them, too.”

City/county consolidation
“Consolidation is a tough issue. Historically, people have worried about minority representation. The towns haven’t like it because they don’t want to get swallowed up into some big massive government. I’m asking people to study it… I do think we will save some money. I’m not going to say it will be hundreds of millions of dollars, but it’s probably millions, and to you that’s not insignificant money.

“Frankly, I think we can do this without absorbing the towns into consolidated government. If they don’t want to be part of it, that’s ok with me. I still think they need to be at the table. But if Davidson wants to be Davidson and Huntersville wants to be Huntersville, I get it. I’m talking from the standpoint of someone who leads a city that’s 80 percent of the county… Trying to bring that conversation to one table makes sense.”

A separate tax for schools
“If we have to have two taxing authorities, in my opinion it shouldn’t be the city and the county. We ought to merge those two, and the school system at some point ought to be able to have more control over their own destiny. We tell the school board and the superintendent to go educate kids, then we tell them you can’t have any control over the purse, you can’t go to voters and explain to them whey they need to invest more or less. They give me that responsibility. They give county commission that responsibility.”

His future in politics
“My view on public service is a little different than some people. There are some folks who can tell you that they’re going to be doing this today and tomorrow, they’re going to be running for this, and the next day they are going to be running for that. That’s not how I look at this. I feel very strongly that there is a higher power working on me and on our city and on the things that need to happen for us as a community… But I have a six-year-old and an eight-year-old, and they have been alive only to see their dad in office or running for office, and they still like hanging out with me, which won’t always be true, I suspect. So I’m always in the process of thinking through the balance of my responsibility to you and the public as well as my responsibility to them. I can see a time coming in the not-too-distant future where I’ll begin to make my closing arguments for the city… I want to get this capital budget figured out; I want to get to a conclusion on the consolidation study – at least getting us that far along – and then we’ll see.”

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October 9, 2015
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