When Joel Levy noticed poor roads and potholes were plaguing parts of southern Mecklenburg County, he bought the tools and asphalt to repair them. A few years later and he’s proud to say all but one of his patches are still intact.
Levy said this story speaks to the kind of person he is and the representative he plans to be if elected to the District 6 seat on the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners. He will face two-year incumbent Susan Rodriguez-McDowell in November. Early voting begins Oct. 15.
“When I see a problem, I like to fix it and my generic view is if you have the opportunity to fix it and the means to fix it, you have an owe to society to fix it,” Levy said.
Levy isn’t a stranger to battling for the District 6 seat. He lost to longtime incumbent Bill James in the 2016 Republican primary. At the time, he said residents wanted a representative who was more involved, and he wanted to give them the opportunity to have a choice.
Four years later and Levy wants the people of District 6 to have that choice again, especially after the county commission became all Democrat in the blue wave of 2018.
“I wouldn’t want to have a completely Republican board either because Democrats have unique ideas,” he said. “I think a completely Democratic board is equally dangerous.”
Levy works as an attorney and lives in Charlotte with his wife, Monica, and their five young children. He is running a self-funded campaign to avoid the perception of being unencumbered by special interests. Instead, he wants supporters to give their money to local charities that serve neighbors in need.
As a resident, Levy is an advocate for parks and greenways and supports law enforcement maintaining safe, well-policed communities. As a father, he values a strong Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools system but hasn’t been impressed with his opponent’s role so far in education.
The timing of the board’s decision to support universal Pre-K didn’t make sense to Levy, who said students are still entering overcrowded environments. Levy said he would have advocated for fixing overcrowded schools before having the conversation about Pre-K.
If elected to the board, Levy wants to start setting up a financial plan to get more funding for CMS. He said current interest rates are low and debt models would support capital projects to build more schools without raising taxes.
Levy describes himself as a candidate with fiscally conservative ideals and a pro-growth mentality. He thinks his district deserves a leader who doesn’t advocate for annual property tax increases or push for sales tax increases.
He was not in favor of last year’s referendum for a sales tax increase to support the arts, parks and other educational programs around Charlotte. He even bought signs and campaigned against it.
“I love the arts and I think they’re extraordinarily important, but I don’t think that’s where our private tax dollars should go,” Levy said.
A property tax hike could come to the table in early 2021 when county commissioners discuss the budget. Levy said he wants to be in a position to stop it.
“Folks all around this county can’t afford it,” he said.
In addition to being an attorney, Levy has a background in municipal finance and investment management and was a former city economist and assistant city treasurer for the City of Charlotte. He joined the city at the height of the financial crisis and worked closely with city and county staff to develop operating budgets and revenue estimates.
He also served a three-year term as vice chairman of the Mecklenburg County’s Board of Equalization and Review. The board’s job is to fix property tax reevaluations and handle appeals.
Levy thinks his experience will be helpful on the county commission because he already knows what it’s like to work in government and will get to “pass over some of that learning curve.”
“I may be new to the role, but because of my experience I can hit the ground running,” Levy said. “It’s not as if we’re hitting the reset button.”
Visit www.joelformeck.com to learn more about Joel Levy.