Councilman David Howard is one of five Democrats vying for four available at-large council seats in today’s primary election in Charlotte, North Carolina. The winner will go on “to four republicans and a libertarian in November,” according to WCNC News Channel 36.
Howard, who’s received endorsements from the Charlotte Observer, Charlotte Post and MeckPAC, is optimistic about his chances in today’s primary and says he’s humbled by the things his supporters are saying.
“They’re calling me a bridge builder, a consensus builder. Those are the things I like hearing because it means that people are paying attention to what I’m trying to do,” he told Politic365 in an exclusive interview.
Originally elected in 2009, Howard is only the third African American in Charlotte’s history to be elected to the at-large City Council post. Fred Alexander and Anthony Foxx, Charlotte’s mayor, are his predecessors.
Having loved politics since he was little, Howard has always been “fascinated” by politics and knew that “it was only a matter of time” before he sought elected office. “I can understand what preachers mean when they say they’re called to be ministers,” Howard told Politic365, “because I can clearly tell you it’s not the money, it’s not all the meetings. But it’s truly the fact that I can say this is my contribution to this community.”
Howard cut his political chops by serving on several planning committees and community development initiatives. He was propelled toward political action, however, when he, along with his mother and godmother, co-founded Mothers of Murdered Offspring (MoMO) in the wake of the untimely death of his godsister, a victim of serial killer Henry Wallace.
In his current contest, in addition to focusing on social issues in the Charlotte community, Howard is interested in facilitating the role that government plays in economic development. To his way of thinking, government can “be a convener when there are issues, but not a solution-maker by itself, and [elected officials] need to be the ones making smart infrastructure investments.”
If re-elected, Howard envisions himself shaping policy that supports infrastructure development, public safety and job creation. “The most important thing a city government does for an economy like we’re dealing with is to give assurances to companies that it’s OK to invest,” he said.
Though he came to job with fresh ideas and his own point of view, Howard credits his membership in the inaugural class of the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials’ (NBC-LEO) Fellowship program as providing him with an extra edge as he navigates the waters of elected office.
“What it provided to me was not just instruction, not just mentors,” he said, “but a family.” He notes that the members of NBC-LEO were proud to have a new class of elected officials to support, and he is honored to be one of two members selected to participate in the program.
If selected during today’s primary, Howard faces a general election on November 8.