Mark Frietch, a corporate recruiter, wants to bring his experience to the Charlotte City Council and help the city attract what he calls “bright companies.”
Frietch, one of four Republicans running against four Democrats and a Libertarian for four at-large seats, hasn’t run for public office before. But he says his skills as a recruiter who works on contract for large companies can be an asset.
“With our unemployment so high, and my background, I think we can do a better job attracting bright companies,” Frietch said. “I want to focus on bringing companies to Westinghouse Road with advanced manufacturing and research companies to UNC Charlotte.”
To attract new businesses, the city has increasingly relied on incentives, which have helped land companies such as Chiquita Brands International and United Technologies Corp., which moved an aerospace division to Charlotte from Connecticut.
But Frietch said the city doesn’t have to rely on using tax dollars to attract jobs.
“A lot of it has to do with partnering and showing value,” he said. “With any outreach you have to do your homework on the company you want. If a company is going to grow, and not just relocate, the incentives aren’t much of a factor.”
Two years ago, in a surprise, Democrats swept all four at-large seats – the first time that had happened since the city went to single-member districts in 1977.
The Democrats were boosted that year by a strong push by Anthony Foxx, a Democratic mayor who was running for re-election. In addition, the city’s changing demographics increasingly favor Democratic candidates. Just under 50 percent of registered voters in the city are Democrats and 23 percent are Republicans.
The Democrats currently have a 9-2 City Council majority.
Frietch, 40, lives uptown in the condo tower Catalyst. As a recruiter, he said he generally signs companies to contracts that range in length from three to 12 months. He said one of his most recent clients was Wells Fargo.
In addition to recruiting new businesses, Frietch said, public safety is a large part of his campaign.
Like most Republicans, Frietch said he would have voted against the recently passed $816 million Capital Improvement Program for police stations, roads, sidewalks, affordable housing and other neighborhood improvements.
He said the time wasn’t right for the CIP and corresponding 7.25 percent tax increase.
“Not at this time,” he said. “We are doing more harm than good.”
Frietch said he isn’t sure how he would have voted when council members this year voted to give the Carolina Panthers $87.5 million in exchange for a six-year commitment to keep the team in Charlotte.
“I don’t know if I can say one way or another,” he said, adding he might have looked to lower the amount of property taxes the team pays on Bank of America Stadium, which is privately owned.
“As long as they continue to upgrade the stadium, they could have lower taxes,” he said.
Frietch had raised $4,960 in his pre-primary report, which was filed in early September.