Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Roberts NOT endorsing Charlotte's first openly gay candidate

The manager of Democrat Owen Sutkowski's campaign for Charlotte City Council has sent out an email announcing his candidate's Thursday announcement. The bottom of the email carries this address: Jennifer Roberts Campaign PO Box 5243 Charlotte NC 28299.

Is Roberts endorsing Charlotte's first openly gay council candidate?

Not according to her campaign manager.

“Its in no way shape or form an endorsement by Jennifer,” says Henk Jonkers, who also happens to be Sutkowski's manager. He blamed it on a glitch by the the email marketing firm that sends out his candidate emails.

It wouldn't do Roberts any favor to endorse a candidate challenging her fellow Democrat (and fellow Elizabeth resident) Patsy Kinsey, the incumbent.

Sutkowski, 26, plans to announce his candidacy Thursday night at Dilworth Neighborhood Grille. He wouldn't be the first gay candidate to run for council, but would the first who is openly gay.
UPDATE: Jonker just sent out a corrected invitation. "I apologize for any confusion the previous one may have caused," he wrote. "In no shape, or form has Owen received any endorsements from any other elected officials to this point, including Jennifer Roberts (no endorsement). "
UPDATE #2: Bookstore owner Sue Henry was open about her homosexuality when she ran as a write-in candidate for mayor in 1995.

52 comments:

Brittany said...

As a former resident of the Charlotte community, it is disappointing to see that Sutkowski's campaign announcement has been shrouded by concerns regarding his sexuality. It's exciting to see young Charlotteans begin to foster their aptitude to lead and serve as public officials. I look forward to following Sutkowski's campaign and hope to see more media coverage of his political plans rather than his personal life.

catholicranger said...

Sutkowski wants "Break Down Barriers to Communication" and yet his website pages are all huge JPEG files (try viewing this on dialup or WiFi) instead of text.

He states that "Charlotte cannot rest on prior accomplishments." At least Charlotte has some. Sutkowski has none relevant for public office ("fresh energy" isn't a qualification).

Charlotte needs to support candidates because they are qualified, not because they represent some diversity group.

Anonymous said...

Sutkowski apparently knows nothing of the needs or concerns of District One ( East Charlotte).
Up until recently he was a Queens
University student that had never bothered to vote in a City Election or get involved in the Community. I could care less if he's gay. He's an attitude looking for a cause and the problems of East Charlotte are far too important to be left in the hands of an inexperienced novice.

Anonymous said...

Patsy Kinsey is doing a great job and I see her all the time at our neighborhood and Crime Watch meetings. I will fully support her
again.

Anonymous said...

Brittany - Sutkowski's sexual orientation is only an issue because he seems to be running on that issue alone. I agree with you that he seems to be talking more about his personal life than his political plans. Maybe as a newcomer he doesn't know enough about the issues to be able to discuss them, so he just talks about his personal life.

clockwatcher said...

This "Henk" guy gets paid by Jennifer Roberts to manage campaigns against other Democrats? Not cool bro!

Anonymous said...

Interestingly he has Henk Jonkers as his campaign manager. He is a big hitter, Running Roberts and Trent Merchant’s Campaigns (2 prominent democrats, well Trent is technically an Independent but……)

The real questions are
1) is Henk doing this free, if so why?
2) If not where did this guy get the start up money to run, ie who is funding him?
3) Do the Dems Dislike Patsy Kinsey that much?
4) If he has $ backing him and the Dems want Kinsey out will the Repubs find a moderate candidate on the outside chance that he wins?

B.H.

Anonymous said...

Lets give him a chance. At least we are getting another choice within the district. If he doesn't win then at least he gets his name out there and he can prepare for next time.

I am glad people still have the drive to be in politics. The public scrutiny would do me in.

Anonymous said...

I am a gay Charlottean and agree that Owen should not run a campaign just about his sexuality. And he's not. The website makes no mention of it.

His orientation should not be ignored either. Charlotte is not gay friendly. The City has zero gay inclusive ordinances. We are the largest metro and Greensboro, Winston-Salemt, much of the Triangle and more have left of us in the dust regarding DP benefits and housing protections.

Charlotte has no problem with gay people as long as we stay in the closet and pretend to be straight.

Well times are finally changing in this town and Owen's campaign win or lose serves as a great step forward.

Patsy says all the right things to us but has never ever once taken a stand for us publicly. Has no problem taking our money though.

Gay people are not treated equally in most of this country and nowhere on the Federal level. Our orientation is a political issue.

So part of his campaign will inevitably force this town to at least begin to recognize and discuss our issues. FINALLY!!!

Anonymous said...

Maybe Owen or Henk should also learn how to spell Dilworth (for those who actually saw the 1st announcement)...

Anonymous said...

Seems this guy is running on one issue only: that he is gay. We all know how most gay people vote, and that is liberal Democratic, with the ultimate goal to further their own social agenda. I've never met a gay person who wasn't a liberal Democrat, have you? I'm straight and have gay friends, so by no means am I homophobic or a "bigot." But I can spot a gay rights advocate in training when I see one. No thanks.

Anonymous said...

Gay, straight, whatever ! Who cares. A kid that has only been in Charlotte 2 or 3 years and has never apparently lifted a single finger for this community is not someone that I would vote for.

DC

clockwatcher said...

See did "Henk" steal Jennifer Roberts email list for Owen since it had her name and address on it? That's sleazy! The candidate owes
an apology too.

Anonymous said...

Henk also runs Nancy Carter's campaigns. I wonder what she thinks about her campaign manager trying to defeat one of her fellow council members.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:58, You've met a non liberal gay person now. Don't know anything of this kid running so can't comment on that but there are those of us out there who can see past our own sexuality (and skin color for some). Its rare. I don't align my self with either party. I vote on competency. The Dems haven't gotten my vote in quite some time as a result. The assumption is they back minority issues but often they have the same stance as the republican candidates. That makes it a non issue for me and I vote for the competent candidate. In other words. It amazes me how an otherwise intelligent person can form a political beleif system based solely on one issue. When I find my vote being the same as the crackhead or thief I seriously reconsider. That candidate can't be good news for both of us.

Anonymous said...

This comment is about the issues. It has nothint to do with Patsy Kinsey or the Democratic party or anyone's campaing manager. etc.JUST THE ISSUES
I have lived in District 1 all of my life and I have never heard of this guy. I have never seen him at any neighborhood meetings, attend any meetings about revitalization, or participate in any way in community groups that market or seek to protect the area. Whether it be Parks & Rec, Small business development, or neighborhood associations. Nothing. What's more interesting is that he is kicking off his campaign in Dilworth Neighborhood Grill in south Charlotte. Did it ever occur to him to do it in the district he is running and hopefully lives in. I mean his website says he supports the entrpreneurs in his district. I am sure Thomas Street Tavern or any bar on 7th street would have welcomed his party...

Anonymous said...

Do the other candidates need to inform the media of their hetrosexuality? Can I get DP Insurance for my dog?

Anonymous said...

So how come when Darrell Bonapart who has been involved in the community his entire life doesn't get any attention form the Observer? He announced he is running against Nancy Carter and the Observer didn't even show up for his announcement

Anonymous said...

Owens became a registered voter in 2008. This is why he hasn't voted in previous elections-that would be illegal.

Anonymous said...

His sexuality is relevant because he is not closeted and gays are not treated equally in NC.

If your dog is considered a consenting adult go for it. Heterosexuality is just like alcoholism and beastiality after all....

Anonymous said...

So how come when Darrell Bonapart who has been involved in the community his entire life announced he is running for District 5 for the seat Nancy Carter holds, the Observer didn't even show up for his announcement?

Anonymous said...

This guy doesn't even show up on the tax record. He's not evena homeowner in District 1. Come on

Anonymous said...

So anonymous 3:48 - you mean this guy just registered to vote when he turned 18 last year? So, like he's maybe what - 19 years old? Or did he just wait around for a few years before bothering to vote? And so he's not a homeowner in the district either.

Now thats just great, we've got a teenage college student living in a dorm and throwing himself parties every week. Sounds like fun! Where do I sign up for the next kegger?

Anonymous said...

They redrew the lines and District 1 now has half of downtown and East Morehead St. (dilworth pub is now in the district)

Does this mean that Carter is not running - Now that Henk has moved on can we assume that?

Anonymous said...

Perhaphs he lived somewhere else. I don't know him. Maybe he rents a home? Not everyone can a home. That should not be a qualification for being a candidate, should it?

Anonymous said...

Owen lived in the dorms while he worked at Queens and was working on his Masters. He has been in Charlotte since at least 2005 but he just got around to registering? Doesn't sound like he is too interested in the community.

Anonymous said...

Nancy is running for re-election in District Five and doesn't deserve to be tied to this bizarre Henk and Owen show.

Anonymous said...

Nancy Carter needs to distance herself from Henk. If he is using Jennifer Robert's lists, he is probably using Nancy's also. That means that Nancy is defacto supporting Owen Sutkowski's bid to defeat Patsy Kinsey.

And if Henk Jonker is such a big player, how is Sukowski paying him? Sukowski works for Queens University and lives in the dorms.

Denise said...

Now, now, boys and girls . Let us not get our knickers in a twist about a non-story. And will those political operatives who are running the opposition campaigns
please have the guts to identify yourselves ANONYMOUS? I recognize your voices. And I will definitively say that I am running for the bus as an openly heterosexual bus runner/Mom. That is how idiotic this whole story is. Sorry. Nonstarter. Yawn. His sexuality is as pertinent to running for office as mine is to running my kitchen and my office. NOT.

Jennifer Roberts, for whom I have served as executive assistant for the past five years WILL NOT ENDORSE ANYONE FOR THIS RACE. And never intended to endorse or not endorse. That part ya'll just made up to have something to run on and run with for sexiness--in both the political and news media senses of that term. Owen talks about the issues, has political chops and it is dishonest and desperate to depict him otherwise.

I have nothing to do with Owen's campaign but am a colleague of Henk Jonker's and can tell you that he is a terrific campaign manager. Gee whiz, I wonder who could be so concerned about who is or is not paying him??? So perhaps a valid point of inquiry would be for the major media outlets to investigate who planted the story in the media last night, who is running the opposition campaigns and what both sides have to say on the issues. But perhaps that is too deep for those who cannot think above the waist. I admire anybody who would offer themselves up for political office in this nasty ,juvenile environment for a job that pays peanuts and is a tremendous responsibility. But those of you who are dredging the bottom for copy and desperate political advantage and deliberate obfuscation should be ashamed . This is not about sexuality. It is not about Jennifer Roberts or Henk Jonker. It is about THE ISSUES and the willingness of both Patsy and Owen to serve this community. Campaign managers identify yourselves. Naughty naughty nabobs of negativism...

"Anonymous" who remarks so acidly about lists and Nancy Carter needs some serious antipsychotic medication to temper the lack of reality orientation and the dispeptic thinking. Way twisted.

Anonymous said...

My previous post was at 3:02. I am a Denise too and live in the Council District. Must I get a Name/URL to please you?

Gay, straight, whatever ! Who cares. A kid that has only been in Charlotte 2 or 3 years and has never apparently lifted a single finger for this community is not someone that I would vote for.

DC

Anonymous said...

Have the major media outlets investigate who "planted" the story in the media? The information in question is clearly printed on an email that went out to who knows how many people. Don't most campaigns send these emails directly to the media too? Shouldn't be too hard to figure this one out. Next!

Anonymous said...

Denise he may have "political chops" whatever in the world that's supposed to mean, but what our elected officials need is a little in depth competence in fiscal matters and economics. As it is the council and the BOCC have proven inept and incompetent in that regard over the past many terms. If this young fellow knows basically nothing about fiscal policy and economics he should fit right in. Much to the continued detriment of the entire community.

Anonymous said...

Owen will have an uphill battle for sure in this bigoted town. I think Charlotte would do well to leave his sexuality alone and just listen to the man. Give him a chance to demonstrate that he understands the issues and has some sort of plan. I mean really could we do any worse? Is there a brain cell to share among the people we have elected so far? And YES gay people do deserve representation in government. Otherwise, stop taking our tax money.

Anonymous said...

Denise, I am not “concerned” who is paying Henk, just curious. It is no secret that a Democratic core of Elizabethans wants to remove Patsy. Remember 4 years ago Roberts Neighbor, Hardin Minor, ran against her? Now a newcomer comes out (no pun intended) of nowhere and has one of the cities top campaign mangers working for him – there is just more to the story.

Also you said “This is not about sexuality. It is not about Jennifer Roberts or Henk Jonker. It is about THE ISSUES”

Not about sexuality – you need to watch his fox interview? His issue is that Patsy is not keeping her word to the Gay community. http://www.myfoxcharlotte.com/myfox/pages/Home/Detail?contentId=8438150&version=1&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=VSTY&pageId=1.1.1

Not about Jennifer Roberts – He made his campaign announcement on Jennifer Roberts Letter Head (or at least footer head)

Not about Henk – He said he made the mistake.

The only thing this campaign is not about is Owen Sutkowski. And Note this is why Henk is great campaign manager, which leads you to wonder why is he backing a weak candidate like Owen? There is much more to the story…..

(also he is not the 1st openly gay candidate to run for Council nor is he the Youngest, but he is the only one to position himself that way)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 11:10 AM sums it all up perfectly. Enough said !

Brittany said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brittany said...

Its interesting to hear how the political discontent people voice behind doors differs from that which is expressed behind the veil of public anonymity. It is not until a newcomer introduces himself that we express our support of a longstanding candidate.
In order for Charlotte reach the pinnacle of its potential there must be economic and political change; change which Charlotte residents are notoriously hesitant to accept.

Our political system needs new candidates to come into the arena in order to develop sound methods of stabilizing and expanding the community. Yes, Sutkowski completed voter registration in 2008. The issue regarding his absence in voting is that he has not participated in local elections and that there is no voting record on which we may judge him. It is irresponsible to vote in a local election as a new resident. Voting without deep understanding of the candidates' platform, ideology, history, and performance is reckless and harmful to society. Maybe he decided to wait so that he could better understand the Charlotte political community. Or perhaps he, like many young Americans, was inspired by the most recent Presidential election which restored faith in both democrats and republicans. Is voting aimlessly better than not voting at all? I think not.

Sutkowski has developed a reputation as an irreplaceable asset to the Queens community during his short tenure. As an employee of Queens University, an institution that has been an integral part of the Charlotte community at large for more than 150 years, Sutkowski's contributions to Charlotte are present, if not indirect. He has been described as passionnate, dedicated, and driven.

He IS young. We are evermore expressing a distain for the silent youth; the youths of today who have no interest in being involved in politics. Yet when we see a young candidate we cringe. Make up your mind; if he survives the Charlotte scorn, he'll be a distinguished politician by the time he's 40. He IS unexperienced. How can one ever step into the political arena without being a newcomer? It's impossible argument and a moot point. Obtaining experience requires that one must pursue a new realm. He IS a new resident. Charlotte is a relatively young city which many economists praise for its quick and efficient economic expansion. New residents are excited about Charotte and want to get involved. Sutkowski has had ample time to settle in and observe the needs of Charlotte residents and is looking to aid in the pursuit of Charlotte's best interests.

Dissect his platform but decide not on his sexuality. Not even the Queens University Chronicle (written by those "crazy drunk 10-20 somethings" as described above)was tasteless enough to focus on his sexuality.

Anonymous said...

Since Charlotte is not fair minded enough like Columbia,Greensboro, Winston-Salem,Durham,Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Orange County, Durham County, Guilford County and more....to have ANY gay rights ordinances Owen's sexuality is a part of the story.

Those of us in the gay community don't have an axe to grind with County Commission because the majority there have had the guts and decency to move forward on equality issues.

Pasty and the rest of have been all talk and taking our $$$$ with no action. They need a wake up call!

Anonymous said...

Patsy Kinsey has been a strong neighborhood leader for decades and a fair and solid advocate for all East Charlotte residents on the County Commission and City Council. She is in no one's pocket and her decisions are well thought out and fair. She is not a ONE ISSUE individual. Again, WHY vote against her when she is doing a great job ???
The main District issues are traffic, crime and protecting our neighborhoods.

Anonymous said...

Why is the "Gay Community" not
asking Mitchell,Turner and Barnes
about their opposition to Domestic
Partnership...Hmmm? How 'bout Burgess and Foxx? How do they stand? Do you know? Fair is Fair people.

Anonymous said...

If you read my prior posts I include the rest of City Council in their failure to treat gay taxpaying Charlotteans equitably.

Almost all local politicians get a failing grade. And we are not going to shut up and stay in the closet to make any of you people feel better.

Committed gay partners that work for the city deserve the same benefits as their straight counterparts. They also don't deserve to get fired for their orientation.

So you are right that we care about our issues. And we won't go away until we are treated as equal.

Anonymous said...

Wow ! Do you speak for the entire
Gay Community? There is not ONE
Gay Community just like there is not One African-American community.
Not all Gays care only about your
one issue. We have lives to live, bills to pay, even kids to raise.
Stop speaking for a whole group
of people that are as different in
their views and politics as anyone
else.

Anonymous said...

As much as I would like to see diversity within our elected officials and commend Mr. Owen's desire to get involved in the community (however brief his time has been seeing a 20 something care it noteworthy enough...) - the fact remains that Patsy Kinsey has done a wonderful job as District 1's City Councillor.

Given the success that Democrats had over the last couple of election cycles it would be wise to build on those successes rather than compete against our own. So Mr. Owen may be better served by running at large or against one of the still too numerous Republicans that still occupy a seat.

Anonymous said...

I speak for myself and those who agree with me. No one is forcing you to join us. Pretty sad that you don't care about your own fair treatment though.

Owen's candidacy is not only about gay issues anyway. It's a large part of it though because this town still can't handle it. Pretty sad for a "world class" city.

Anonymous said...

If Henk's objective was to taint as many Charlotte campaigns as possible while raising the toxicity level for Democratic in-fighting across all of Mecklenburg, I say well done, Sir!

Well done.

I can't believe Democrats pay this clown for this kind of brazen mismanagement and bad publicity. Meck Republicans couldn't be better served if they hired Henk themselves.

Anonymous said...

Dont under estimate Henk.

Anonymous said...

Henk was just one of many that helped Jennifer Roberts win.She had many paid consultants and a team of paid advisors.My Democratic friends say Henk was mainly in charge of yard-signs and photo-ops.

Richard said...

Unfortunately the only lesson that will be learned by having gay politicians seeking to unseat those straight politicians who ARE ON THEIR SIDE is that there are some gay politicians who will try to target them for defeat anyway. That doesn't send a very positive message to straight people who support gay issues.

Anonymous said...

How about running on the issues?

ChrisNC said...

Sutkowski is NOT the first openly-gay municipal candidate in Charlotte. I was the Libertarian candidate for District 4 in 2001, and at-large in 2003. Richard Ruben wrote on my candidacy. Jim Morrill studiously ignores Libertarians, as he did again in this article.
Chris Cole

Jim said...

A candidate should be elected on their ability and not their sexual orientation. This is the right thing to do.

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