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Darrel Williams appointed chair of sales tax referendum committee
Chairs Partnership for a Better Mecklenburg
Published Sunday, August 11, 2019 5:14 pm
by Herbert L. White | The Charlotte Post

Architect and former Mecklenburg County commissioner Darrel Williams is chair of Partnership for a Better Mecklenburg Committee.

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The campaign for Mecklenburg County’s quarter-cent sales tax referendum has turned to a longtime business and political leader as its chair.

Charlotte architect Darrel Williams, a founding partner in Neighboring Concepts and former Mecklenburg commissioner, is chair of the Partnership for a Better Mecklenburg Committee, which is backing the Nov. 5 referendum. The committee is submitting documentation to the county board of elections, as required by law.

“We are building a strong campaign team at this time,” Williams said in a statement.  “I am truly excited about this campaign because it’s an opportunity to broaden access to education, parks and arts for all residents of Mecklenburg County.”

If voters approve the tax, Mecklenburg’s sales tax rate would grow to 7.5 percent from the current 7.25 percent. An approved referendum would generate an estimated additional $50 million to be split between Arts & Science Council, which would receive 49 percent, parks and greenways (30 percent) and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teachers (16 percent).

Williams’ architectural firm that has been involved in the design of Romare Bearden Park, Revolution Park Sports Academy and the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, where he is a board member. He is past president of American Institute of Architects Charlotte, a board member of AIA North Carolina, and a member of the National Association of Minority Architects. In 2006, he was voted to AIA’s College of Fellows.

Williams served four terms as a county commissioner, the Parks Commission and co-chaired the study committee that examined tax-based revenue streams to support Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s cultural community. He chaired the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Board of Trustees and served on the Boards of Central Piedmont Community College, and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Foundation. 

Aisha Dew is one of three strategy and logistics consultants to the partnership committee.

The committee also brought on a bipartisan group of strategy and logistics consultants: Aisha Dew, president of The Dew Group and manager of Vi Lyles' 2017 mayoral campaign, Patrick Sebastian of Majority Strategies and Brad Crone with Campaign Connections. Dew is former chair of the Mecklenburg Democratic Party and former first-vice chair of the state party. Sebastian is a Republican strategist with Majority Strategies, and Crone is an independent consultant who has worked with more than 400 local and regional campaigns over 28 years.

“We have a prominent Democrat, Republican and Independent consulting team who have run numerous successful campaigns in Mecklenburg County and across North Carolina,” Williams said. “We are going to run a grassroots campaign sharing our message with communities across the county, explaining the critical need to support this effort and detailing how this referendum will improve the quality of life of all residents.”

ASC launched a podcast, Culture For All, in July to encourage voters to approve the referendum. The committee is ramping up partnerships to bring more community support for expanding the tax rate.

“We are working to build our campaign committee membership.  We are looking to announce our Partnership team soon,” Williams said.  “I am encouraged by the broad-based support we are seeing from many different groups and organizations because they understand the vital role our schools, parks and arts play in our county.”


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