A woman running for mayor of Charlotte is facing a backlash after appearing to advertise her race as one of her qualifications.
“Vote for me!” Kimberley Paige Barnette, a former county magistrate judge running for office for the first time, wrote on her Facebook profile.
Then, following two lines that included her name and “Mayor of Charlotte 2017” was a description of herself, in four capitalized words: “REPUBLICAN & SMART, WHITE, TRADITIONAL”
The description, which appeared at the top of her Facebook profile, quickly drew angry responses on social media, the Charlotte Observer reported. The North Carolina Republican Party also has distanced itself from the little-known candidate.
“The Charlotte mayoral contest will be decided based on who can best promote public safety, provide economic development, and improve critical infrastructure needs. This contest will not be decided based on the skin color of the candidates,” North Carolina GOP Chairman Robin Hayes said in a statement. “Any suggestion that a candidate is more or less qualified for political office based on their skin color alone, offensive to North Carolina Republicans and we condemn it. This type of suggestion has no place in our public discourse.”
Barnette did not respond to a call and email from The Washington Post Wednesday morning. She has since deleted the post, but images of it are still circulating online.
Barnette spent 18 years as a magistrate judge in Mecklenburg County, serving from 1987 to 1995 and from 2003 to 2013, and now works as an Amazon warehouse associate, according to the Charlotte Observer. She is not a registered lawyer with the North Carolina State Bar, but the state does not require magistrate judges to be attorneys.
The political newcomer also said she is not raising money and does not appear to have a campaign website. She told the Observer that she hopes word of mouth will be enough.
During a mayoral debate last month, Barnette criticized protests, advocated for police foot patrol in high-crime areas, implied that the poor like to buy expensive cars, suggested that Charlotte should not welcome lower-income people and said transgender individuals should not be allowed to use bathrooms based on their gender identity.
In answering a question about the protests in Charlotte last September, when a police officer shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott, Barnette said protests are “expressive of Democratic behavior.”
“As mayor, what I would like to discourage is assembly,” she said. “Protests are confrontational, they’re chaotic, they scare people. I believe there’s a better way to express yourselves.”
On how to control violent crime in Charlotte, Barnette said police should be more visible. “Definitely not in cars, but on streets, foot patrol,” she said. “But it has to be done that they need to be safe as well.”
She also said that Charlotte should be more welcoming of people who make a lot of money, but not so much of people who don’t.
“I do not think that we should encourage more lower-income persons to move to Charlotte,” she said. “We want to attract higher-income persons to Charlotte. … They’re going to have the most money to be able to spend in our economy.”
She suggested that poor people can work; they just don’t want to. With a higher minimum wage, she added, poor people should be able to buy a “standard house” and “meet their needs.”
“However, it will not pay to have expensive cars,” she said. “They need to prioritize correctly.”
When asked about the city’s role in defining the rights of the LGBT community, Barnette said transgender people should not be allowed to use bathrooms based on the gender with which they identify and suggested they should use a separate restroom.
“As a magistrate, I issued processes on persons that were in the bathroom, males that were in the bathroom, and you never know what they are; they scare children, quite frankly,” she said.
Barnette is running against two other candidates in the Republican primary: Kenny Smith, a city council member, and Gary Dunn, a recurring candidate who has switched parties multiple times. In an interview with the Charlotte Observer last month, Barnette said she’s running for office because she believes she’s a good decision-maker.
“And I’m good at listening and analyzing information. I think I’d be good at it,” she told the paper.