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Cornelius News

Four Dems discuss differences in 12th District race

May 7. By Dave Vieser. Four Democrats, each seeking to be the next representative in Congress for North Carolina’s newly drawn 12th congressional district brought their campaign to Cornelius Town Hall Friday evening May 6 in an unusual Democratic Party Forum within a very Republican town. However, with the new 12th District now entirely in Mecklenburg County, and rated as a “Safe Democratic” district, there’s a strong possibility that the next representative in Congress for Cornelius and the Lake Norman area will be a Democrat.

The 90 minute forum attracted over 100 spectators as incumbent Alma Adams, Former Charlotte City Council member and state senator Malcolm Graham, State Representative Tricia Cotham and candidate Gardenia Henley handled a series of questions from a panel of political experts led by Dr. Susan Roberts, Political Science Professor at Davidson College. (Carla Cunningham is also running but had a scheduling conflict and sent her campaign manager).

North Carolina’s new 12th congressional district is now confined entirely to Mecklenburg County, redrawn by state legislators after a panel of three judges ruled the previous district unconstitutional. The former 12th ran some 80 miles like a snake from Charlotte to the Triad, and was sometimes referred to as one of the nation’s most gerrymandered districts.

Just over half of the registered voters in the new 12th are Democrats and 35% of the voting-age population is black. All of the candidates except Cotham are black, raising concerns among some that black voters may split their votes, thereby opening the door for Cotham. Moreover, due to the late primary, there will be no runoff meaning the individual with the highest amount of votes will be the party’s official candidate.

Adams has recently moved from Greensboro, which was in the old 12th district, to Charlotte.

“We need someone in congress who has lived in Mecklenburg County, not another part of the state” said Cotham. However Adams struck back noting that she had opposed the creation of the state turnpike authority “long before the controversy over toll lanes on I77 erupted.”

In response to a question about dealing with civil rights Malcolm Graham cited a very personal experience. “I know how racism feels. My sister was killed last year in South Carolina because she was black.”

The candidates took issue with the HB2 bill passed by the Republican majority in April, and there were frequent mentions of preventing the GOP’s likely presidential candidate Donald Trump from winning in November.

The candidates mentioned town hall meetings as a meaningful way to stay abreast of their constituents needs. “The people will lead, the leaders will follow” said Graham. And candidate Gardenia said” I’m all about accountability. Ethics is what it’s all about.”

Polls for the 12th congressional district primary will be open on Tuesday June 7 from 6:30 am to 7:30 pm. Early voting begins Thursday May 26.

Ryan Duffie, Leon Threatt, and Paul Wright are competing for the district’s Republican nomination.