Charlotte, NC

Queen City Roundup 2/24: Election filing opens in NC, Mecklenburg's 'mini' COVID grants and more

Collin Cunningham

By Collin Cunningham

(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) Good Thursday morning, Charlotteans! It is Feb. 24, and election filing is now open across North Carolina after a December delay. We'll tell you about the new congressional map that allowed filing to reopen, and how politicians around the Queen City have responded.

Also open is camping in Charlotte, but City Council is considering the reinstatement of a ban on outdoor sleeping that could impact the region's homeless individuals. A local chef responsible for a burgeoning restaurant group received a nod for the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award. And Mecklenburg County opened $177,000 up to organizations that help vaccinate Charlotte's vulnerable populations against COVID-19.

Temperatures will dip from the current mid-60s down to the low 50s overnight into Friday as clouds blanket the sky in Charlotte. Here's what else every resident of the Queen City needs to know until tomorrow.

1. Candidate filing open after NC court approves new map; Who's running in Charlotte?

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The new congressional map approved by a panel of North Carolina judges on Wednesday has 14 districts, one more than the previous chart(Courtesy of FiveThirtyEight)

What happened: As of 8 a.m. Thursday, North Carolina politicians can file their intent to run in the May 17 statewide primary election. Ending at noon on March 4, this is the second time prospective candidates have been able to file to run in four months. The state Supreme Court suspended candidate filing on Dec. 8, two days after filing had opened, over a lawsuit filed against previous iterations of the state's congressional maps.

Why it matters: The North Carolina State Board of Elections was able to resume filing because a state court approved a new congressional map drawn by external policymakers on Wednesday. The Raleigh News & Observer reports that the new, 14-district map could lend an 8-6 advantage to either Republicans or Democrats.

Last week, judges ruled that House, Senate and congress maps approved by lawmakers were guilty of unconstitutional gerrymandering favoring Republicans. Wednesday's court decision OK's recently redrawn House and Senate maps, but judges rejected a revised congressional map.

Local spin: As a result of the modified maps, Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop may not enter the race in Charlotte this year, citing new district boundaries. Per WRAL, U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, a Democrat in Charlotte, will seek reelection in the 12th Congressional District and state Sen. Wiley Nickel, a Democrat out of Wake County, looks for four years on the sixth district.

2. Council considering camping ban: Will Charlotte reinstate moratorium on outdoor sleeping?

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Mecklenburg County officials removed residents from Charlotte's "Tent City" in February of 2021 due to an influx of rats(@hollyforthe99_/Twitter)

Nearly a year after the Mecklenburg County cleared a Charlotte homeless encampment referred to as "Tent City," Charlotte City Council is considering the reinstatement of a camping ban that would penalize people for sleeping outside in public spaces. The ban folded in December as a result of a new state law that prevented Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officers from prosecuting residents for violating many of the city's ordinances.

According to WBTV, councilmember Renee Johnson, who represents Charlotte's District 4, said enforcing charges against homeless people "magnifies the problem." As of Jan. 31, Mecklenburg County's housing dashboard shows 3,043 people are experiencing homelessness between the county and Charlotte. Officials from both regions released a report outlining strategies to rehome individuals without residences in January.

The group could vote on the camping cap and 19 other ordinances at their next meeting at 5 p.m. on Monday.

3. BayHaven proprietor Greg Collier named James Beard semifinalist

Greg Collier, one-half of the Charlotte chef couple who launched the BayHaven Food & Wine Festival and BayHaven Restaurant Group over the past year, is being considered for a James Beard Foundation Award. For the third time, the culinary merit association has listed Collier as a semifinalist for the best chef in the Southeast U.S., which includes Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia and the Carolinas.

The restaurateur's previous nominations came from time spent at his Uptown Yolk cafe and Loft & Cellar Uptown, which closed in 2019, but the 2022 nomination comes from Leah & Louise, the Colliers' 2020-opened eatery in Camp North End. Greg and Subrina appeared on "Good Morning America" last week to cook trout and grits in honor of Black History Month.

4. Mecklenburg's 'mini grants': County awards $177,000 to organizations vaccinating vulnerable groups against COVID

To aid in their work to deliver coronavirus vaccinations to Mecklenburg County's homeless individuals, immigrants, racial-ethnic minorities and low-income residents, the county announced on Tuesday that the following 20 organizations will receive grants of $9,999 or less:

  • Asanteman Association of the Carolinas
  • Ausie & Martin Rivens Scholarship Foundation
  • Beauty After the Bars
  • Carolina Toyz Car Club, Inc.
  • Cedric Dean Holdings, Inc.
  • CLT Public Relations, LLC
  • Congolese Patriot
  • Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
  • Epoch Tribe, LLC
  • Framework4Future
  • Free Zone Home Care, LLC
  • Freedom Fighting Missionaries
  • International House of Metrolina, Inc.
  • Kappa Foundation of Charlotte
  • Latin American Coalition
  • Moriah Hemingway Health Foundation
  • Roy Powell Group (Powell-Strong)
  • U2U Charlotte/Little Rock CDC
  • Universal Institute of Successful Aging of Carolinas (UISAC)
  • Weeping Willow AMEZ Church

The allocations are intended to help recipients reach out to vulnerable populations with informative programming and resources to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Latest local numbers: The news of the grants comes as Mecklenburg's COVID-19 positivity rate dipped from 12.6% on Feb. 16 to 9.6% on Tuesday, bumping the county from a "high" community spread to a "substantial" transmission rate.

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I cover the city of Charlotte, North Carolina for NewsBreak's Creator Program. Check back often for daily headline roundups to learn what's happening in the Queen City!

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