DNC Helped Recapture Charlotte’s Magic

Mayor Anthony Foxx reflects on the convention and talks about the city's future.

Anthony Foxx (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Anthony Foxx (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

(The Root) — Mayor Anthony Foxx is exhausted, but in a good way, just like his city. Though last week’s Democratic National Convention didn’t run exactly as planned — turns out neither party is great at forecasting the weather — the sudden storms that periodically pummeled Charlotte, N.C., didn’t dampen the spirit of the celebration heading into a tough November political race.

After Democrats chose Charlotte, there were questions about the city’s ability to pull off such a major event. Unions wondered why its allies placed the convention in right-to-work North Carolina. Protesters objected to security measures that limited accessibility.

At the time, Foxx, 41, knew that the expected 35,000 visitors – national and international leaders, media and delegates — would be judging him as well. Charlotte’s second African-American mayor, who touted his city as the perfect pick, has been tagged as a rising political star. With an opportunity to speak at the convention and a week as the city’s most visible host, he had a lot on the line.

Sitting in an empty council chamber in the government center, Foxx was tired when he spoke with The Root on a recent Friday afternoon about his own future and the November chances of the president and friend he supports. That morning Foxx; his wife, Samara; and their two children, Hillary and Zachary, had said their goodbyes and posed for pictures at the North Carolina Air National Guard Base near Charlotte Douglas International Airport before President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama departed on Air Force One.

Foxx said that though “it’s not going to be easy” for President Obama to repeat his narrow 2008 win in the state this fall, the enthusiasm for the president during convention week proved to media who were “writing North Carolina off” that the state “is actually competitive.”

The Root: What is your morning-after evaluation of convention week?

Anthony Foxx: Regardless of how people are going to vote in the fall, everyone in Charlotte was proud of our city for hosting this event and understood it as a turning point for this city in much the same way that Atlanta in ’88 [with the Democratic convention] was a turning point for that city. I walked down the streets often enough and felt the energy from our own residents who were milling about with the people who were coming in for the convention, and the hospitality that Charlotte showed this convention and these visitors spoke volumes about the kind of community we are.

TR: Were you disappointed with the inclement weather?

AF: Well, Mother Nature is definitely one of those things we don’t control. Every convention has its share of novel situations. I wouldn’t have predicted that we’d have four days of wet weather happen during this particular week. Part of what we have to do with a convention like this is roll with the punches, and [the organizers] made a good decision not to host the event [Obama’s acceptance speech] at the stadium. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

TR: What did hosting the convention mean for Charlotte?