Leigh Will Fight for the Economic Empowerment & Health of Families
Pipeline to Good Paying Jobs
Some of our kids are on a path to college, and that's wonderful. But 1 out of 4 CMS students don't go beyond a high school diploma, and it is well-known that Charlotte has a problem with persistent poverty. Studies show 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 don't require the debt and delay of a traditional four-year degree.
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, paired with the necessary tools of financial literacy to protect early gains in the workforce and build household wealth. This priority is not only for young adults - we must scale up efforts to connect all residents who are ready to work with the requisite training to fill the employment needs of our region's employers.
We must set our residents up for success, and the links between pre-K programs and later academic success are well-documented. Increasing investments in universal access to pre-k and childcare ensures all our kids are ready to learn when they enter a formal school setting, not only the ones whose families can spend thousands on pre-k tuition. Equally important, this program also allows parents to stay in the workforce, earning household income for family stability and opportunity. We must double down to ensure all kids have the foundation to achieve their highest academic potential.
Health of Families
Mental Health in our Schools and Community
Today, the county gives CMS $6 million for mental health support staff. That's 27 social workers, 10 psychologists, 10 counselors, and 8 coordinators to serve 175 schools. These are great investments, but we must do more to expand access to mental health support in our county schools.
As a County Commissioner, I will convene a mental health summit that brings together leaders in local hospital systems, non-profits, and county service providers to identify gaps to service for our most at-risk populations and find ways to meet our most pressing needs efficiently and effectively.
Access to Women's Reproductive Health
Access to women's reproductive health is under assault across the nation. I will be a strong ally to our local providers to ensure that all women have access to the healthcare they need, regardless of income and immigration status.
Reducing Gun Violence in Mecklenburg
My boys were in 4th and 1st grade when Sandy Hook happened. I put them back on the school bus the next morning with trembling hands and not a day goes by that I watch them set out without fear in my heart. The same anxiety that plagues many parents about mass shooters such as cut down young lives at UNCC is repeated daily across neighborhoods in Charlotte. Our city's tragic spike in gun violence this year must be addressed.
I believe the county needs to support new initiatives that will promote safe gun storage, 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. Together, can we can make our county safer for all.