By Collin Cunningham
(CHARLOTTE, NC) Good morning, Charlotte! Today is October 28, and welcome back to your Queen City Roundup.
Today you can expect a rainy Thursday with temperatures between the 50s and 60s, with precipitation hitting its peak around 8 p.m. Moving into the weekend, which will be a big one with Halloween, the Queen City will have warmer weather, but you'll learn more about that tomorrow.
What you'll learn about today are the various local seats up for grabs in Tuesday's elections, as well as the story of a Novant Health employee who walked out of a federal discrimination lawsuit this week with $10 million after he claimed he'd been fired for being white. Then we'll close off the roundup with the latest figures showing who's vaccinated in North Carolina and continue this week's weekend event planning series with more Halloween affairs.
What's happening: North Carolina voters will take to the polls next week to decide who will win more than 930 local mayoral, council and school board seats. Charlotte's elections for mayor, city council and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education were delayed until next year as of June, but there are names on the ballot for Mecklenburg communities like Matthews and Huntersville.
Nearby, Gaston and Union counties have over 20 local elections apiece, and many local municipalities are offering early voting. Each county name mentioned here links to the corresponding board of elections, where registration information and absentee ballot requests can be found.
Why it matters: Voting gives residents more say and oversight over the policymakers whose professional decisions impact their lives. Even at the hyperlocal level, voting can ensure a community's needs are met without restricting the process to a career politician.
It should be noted that: Voters in North Carolina do not need to show ID in order to vote in elections after a federal district judge blocked the state's requirement to show documentation in 2019, per WCNC.
What happened: The past vice president of marketing and communication at NC-based Novant Health walked out of a federal court case with $10 million this week after the jury found he was fired for being white. David Duvall stated in court filings that he had been fired in 2018 and replaced by a pair of women, one of whom was Black and the other was white. Novant said it was "extremely disappointed" in the outcome of the trial and will pursue all legal options to reverse it.
Why it matters: Duvall's used Title VII of the Civil Rights Act in his argument, using a subsection of the act that would usually help protect minorities in the workplace to his own benefit. The former executive's victory here could set a precedent for future cases in the same vein. It's also a private win against one of the largest health systems in the state.
What's happening: About 71% of adults in North Carolina have been partially vaccinated against COVID-19 and roughly 67% have been fully vaccinated. In numbers released Wednesday, the state health department reported 2,160 new coronavirus cases (a big increase from 1,340 on Tuesday) and 47 deaths related to the virus.
Why it matters: As cases fall, restrictions loosen. NC health officials updated their mask mandate guidance this week to say that students should only be required to mask up if their county has a high or substantial rate of spread. That’s currently true of 98 counties in North Carolina.
“It’s good news,” Cooper told onlookers at a Wednesday press conference. “Although every death is painful and now often avoidable, we’ve felt a renewed sense of hope as our COVID numbers have continued their steady improvement. People are eating at restaurants and going to concerts and ballgames again. People are traveling again. And most people are back at work, although many are doing it in a different way, or at a different job.”
4. Halloweekend event planner: a wall full of pumpkins and a Halloween-themed race
Can you feel it, Charlotte? Can you feel it in your bones? Halloween weekend is only one day away, and the holiday itself is so close you can almost taste the candy. While most of the events in this week's planning series have provided a more party type atmosphere, today we have a pair of calmer suggestions.
- Great Elizabeth Pumpkin Wall illumination at 2229 Greenway Ave. — Oct. 29, 6:45 p.m.
A tradition since 2004, Charlotte's Elizabeth neighborhood constructs a wall of resident-carved pumpkins each year and hosts a lighting ceremony to emblazen the jack-o-lanterns. Can't make it on Saturday? The wall is set to remain lit and standing through Monday.
- Running Scared 4 Miler & Monster Mile at Romare Bearden Park — Oct. 30, 7:45 to 8:45 a.m.
Charlotteans are invited to show off the fluidity of their Halloween costumes by doing some light trail running in them on Saturday. Participants in the Running Scared race can choose either a four-mile or single "Monster Mile." The event typically includes a five-mile component, but event planners reduced the length due to ongoing construction in the Queen City.