Several things were clear at the candidates' forum in East Charlotte on Tuesday night:
• Most of the candidates, Democrat and Republican alike, had figured out the P.C. answers for this crowd, for instance, "I support the streetcar."
The forum Tuesday included all the at-large candidates except Republican Jerry Drye, and all the candidates for districts 1, 4, and 5 except District 4 candidate Gail Helms, a Republican.
Because of the huge line-up of at-large candidates, the format didn't allow much time for extensive answers, which in many ways was a blessing, though it left the audience with precious few specifics from candidates – not that many candidates typically offer them anyway.
Here's a brief rundown:
• All but Libertarian at-large candidate Travis Wheat said they supported a proposed building code ordinance for nonresidential buildings.
• None supported the idea of requiring affordable housing in all developments as a way to ensure that it's spread throughout the city. We have too much "affordable" housing already seemed to be the general sentiment.
• Everyone supported the proposed streetcar from Beatties Ford Road to Eastland Mall except Wheat, Bob Williams (D), Darrin Rankin (D), Craig Nannini (R) and Matthew Ridenhour (R).
• The proposed city landlord registry drew mixed responses with several candidates – Dave Howard (D), Edwin Peacock (R) and Jaye Rao (R) – saying "yes but with some work." Others favored it except for Nannini, Rankin, Ridenhour and Wheat.
• The most fireworks came not from candidates but from the heavens. A torrential thunderstorm briefly knocked out the lights in the Hickory Grove Recreation Center, drawing more gasps from the crowd than any of the politicans' remarks.
• Best slogan: Jaye Rao, trying to help people pronounce her name correctly (It rhymes with pow): "Vote now for Rao – like, wow!"
• Best schtick: Craig Nannini holding up a photo of his newborn son, who's now 11 weeks old, as a way to talk about what's important.