Burlington’s Big Issue of Economic Inequality Surfaces in Mayoral Primary

By Ana Gabriela García

fullsizeoutput_74b.jpeg

A volunteer talks to a Burlington resident in front of polls.

The town of Burlington this humid afternoon was doted with “I voted” stickers and last minute candidature brochures as people got ready eliminate one of the three mayoral candidates. Which are Celo Faucette, Craig Deaton and Ian Baltutis

Each candidate had differing platforms, however the concerns of voters were mostly centered around the same thing: Burlington’s issue of economic inequality.

Priscilla Starling, an energetic woman handing who spent her afternoon handing out mayoral brochures and pens in the entrance of the polls, said: “Everybody is always worried about the economy. How do we make it better?” She then referenced the grand economic disparity between the east and west side of Burlington, which many other voters reiterated throughout the day.

According to DATA-USA, the median house-hold income in Burlington is $36,140, which is less than the median average income in the United States.

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 11.37.32 PM

Information given by DATA USA

It is interesting to note that region, ethnicity and gender were the main factors for economic disparity in the city.

For instance, males earn 1.21 percent more than their female counterparts. And Asian or Asian-American residents earn more than their caucasian and black or African-American counterparts with a salary between 61,400 and 27,193. Black or African Americans earned the least of all their counterparts, earning a salary between 28,218 and 3,314.

Screen Shot 2017-10-11 at 12.04.44 AM

Orange= White | Green=Asian |Orange=Black/African-American | Teal=Multi-racial | Purple=Unknown| Blue=Other/Native American | Mustard=American Indian|

Bryan, a longtime resident of Burlington who attended UN Chapel Hill commented that he believed one of the biggest issues was “Economic development on the east side of Burlington.” For him, a roadblock preventing the east-side from advancing economically is the lack of diverse voices and perspectives in the local government.

“It’s tough if everyone on the board lives in the same neighborhood.”

Bryan championed the current mayor Baltutis, as he “is probably the most out of character historically. I think he’s trying to bring a more inclusive voice to the community. I think he’s fairly forward thinking.”

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 11.48.49 PM.png

Map of Income by location in Burlington, NC.

Bobbie Mcmillan, the assistant director of nursing at Cone Health, who has lived in Burlington for 30 years, also said that the biggest issue facing the town was “Growth. We need to revitalize some areas.” When asked which ones, she referred, as many others did, to the east.

The region is one of the most important determinants of income in Burlington.

In the east side Burlington, communities with medium wages of 23,759, 29,741 and 32,865 are right next to smaller, more concentrated communities with medium wages of 82,837, and 65,203.

On the west side of Burlington, there are only two medium income brackets 49,602 to the north and 57,436 to the south.

Unlike Bryan, Bobbie believed that Facuette was the candidate that “has vision for our city. I think he has a handle for what we need in our community.”

fullsizeoutput_748.jpeg

Voters usually bring their children, young nephews or grandchildren along with them to the polling station.

The Candidates respective platforms, as explained in detail below, are varied and showcase their very different personalities and perspectives on Burlington’s needs.

Yet, all candidates share one striking similarity. They do not address the ways in which income is distributed in regards to regional, gendered and ethnic/racial differences within the city.

  • Celo Faucette is mayor pro tem, and thus already holds a place on the City council. Faucette’s main campaign promise and goal as Mayor is to revitalize east Burlington, keep governmental costs at a low and introduce a mass transit system to the Burlington area.
  • Craig Deaton is a local businessman with a passion for God, who uses Facebook as his main platform for campaigning. His platform is built on the fact that he is a conservative with great morale,  who “wants to see that we remain great.” He expresses deep worry for the greenways and bikeway projects and has a deep desire to “restore and protect out history.”
  • Ian Baltutis  is the current mayor of Burlington, a business owner, and an Elon University graduate. During his term, he encouraged civic engagement and expressed a passion for promoting leadership in young people.