Leigh Will Fight for the Economic Empowerment & Health of Families
Bright Futures for All Our Kids
Some of our kids are on a path to college, and that's wonderful. But many CMS students don't go beyond a high school diploma, and they need a path to success too. It is well-documented that if you're born poor in Charlotte, you're more likely to stay poor than in 50 similarly-sized US cities.
But it needn't be so. We have thousands of unfilled tech jobs in Charlotte, and it is said our deficit of trained tech talent contributed to Charlotte losing the Amazon HQ2 bid. We also have a strong demand for skilled tradespeople such as electricians and mechanics that must be filled by the next generation. Many of these jobs pay well and do not require the debt and delay of a traditional four-year degree. For more on this subject, click here.
Every young adult who graduates from our county's schools should have one-on-one career counseling to connect them with good-paying jobs in our region and necessary training and certifications to achieve them. No graduating senior should leave our school system without the benefit of a concrete plan for meaningful employment. Click here to see a great example of this kind of program in Mecklenburg County.
Strong Employment Opportunities for All Ages
Many Mecklenburg County adult residents struggled with low-wage jobs or unemployment prior to COVID-19. The pandemic has only deepened these hardships with unprecedented spikes in unemployment and no clear timetable for recovery. Thousands are struggling to find a dependable source of food, healthcare, and housing. We can do better.
As with our graduating high school students, now is the time to prepare all adults seeking work for emerging jobs in our region. We can respond to the upending of our economy and we can raise household incomes by ensuring that every under- or unemployed adult has 1) access to actual hiring industries in Mecklenburg County 2) the training needed to become qualified and 3) wrap-around supportive services to ensure success for all.
Health of Families
I support robust public health programs for Mecklenburg County, including
Parks, Trails, Sidewalks, and Greenways
COVID-19 has underscored the need that every single neighborhood have access to safely enjoy the outside environment. Being outside promotes mental health, physical health, community ties, safe gathering spaces, and -- increasingly for many -- a wonderful alternative to dependence on cars. Funding for our green spaces was a casualty of the 2009 economic downturn in this community. Consequently, achieving community goals for green spaces was slowed by nearly a decade. The COVID economic crisis will again put strong pressure on all funding priorities. This time, we know that expanding our green spaces is a first-tier priority for our residents, especially for those neighborhoods that have received less investment.
Reducing Gun Violence in Mecklenburg
My kids were in 4th and 1st grade when a young man went to Sandy Hook Elementary and took the lives of 20 children between 6 and 7 years of age. I put my own children on the school bus the next morning with trembling hands, and I don't think our nation has ever been the same. Similarly, gun violence continues to plague neighborhoods across our community every year. Charlotte's tragic spike in gun homicides these last three years must be addressed.
I believe the county needs to support new initiatives that will promote safe habits for gun owners, help our young adults work to resolve their disputes without employing guns, and educate our community about the role that toxic stress brought on by poverty and racism plays in the lives of so many of our residents. We must also find ways to reduce the proliferation of guns in our community. Together, can we can make our county safer for all.