Updated: Jan 12, 2019
What happens when one person advocates for you? What happens when one decision, one request from an advocate changes the trajectory of your life? When his mom advocated for him, Brandon Lofton had doors of education open for him that his peers did not experience. Now, he works to advocate for others in our community. This November, he hopes to take his advocacy to the State Capital.
Brandon grew up in Jacksonville, NC, at a military base. His father was a Marine and his mom was a public school teacher. He learned public service at an early age. Keep reading to see how these instilled values make Brandon work so hard for our city and why he wants to do the same for Charlotte at the state level.
What brought you to Charlotte?
My mom moved here in 1997, right after I graduated from high school and began attending UNC Chapel Hill. As I visited her during school breaks and on weekends, Charlotte began to feel like home. When I graduated law school at NYU in 2004, my wife, Kellie and I, decided to make Charlotte our official home.
What made you stay?
I fell in love with the city. There are great people here. My wife and I have two boys in public school. Charlotte is also the kind of place where people encourage you to get involved. It’s expected to be a part of the community.
What do you mean by, involved in the community?
I came here straight out of law school and started working with what was at the time Ferguson Stein Chambers, a Civil Rights Law Firm. The attorneys there were, and still are, heavily connected in the community. I learned a lot about what was going on in Charlotte. After about three years, I transferred to my current firm, Robinson Bradshaw, and continued to stay involved within the community.
I stay busy! I just rolled off as President of the Board of the Council for Children’s Rights. I’ve been with them since 2010 and they actually passed an amendment to allow me to stay involved. I’ve been a part of the Housing Advisory Board, the Precinct Chair for the Democratic Party, and I chaired a group called the Access to America Dialogue under the DNC host committee.
I’m also active with my boys’ school—I’m the chess coach and I’ve served on the school leadership team at Olde Providence Elementary.
What else do you do to stay involved?
So, now, I’m continuing as chess coach (my boys are beating me!). I’m currently on the board for SHARE Charlotte.
And… I’m also running for NC House 104.
What’s the district for NC House 104?
It’s South Charlotte: the northern border is the Myers Park neighborhood, then the district extends down through Cotswold capturing Lansdowne, Old Providence Road, and SouthPark. It stops at Providence and Rea Road.
What made you decide to run?
I love this city and state. I’m concerned that our politics are getting in the way of our progress.
What do you mean by that?
I mean, I’m out there talking with people in South Charlotte and I’m hearing about their worries and concerns. They’re worried about schools, teachers, and the rising cost of healthcare. The tone of Raleigh politics seems to be more focused on pursuing power instead of finding pragmatic solutions to our challenges.
What solutions do you bring?
One of my solutions is being willing to talk with people who may not agree with you. No single party has a monopoly on good ideas. We need to talk with people across our differences. We need to show more respect for our teachers and our schools. We have to do what we need to do to lower healthcare costs. We need to expand Medicaid costs. This helps all of us lower costs because we’re all paying for growing costs.
What’s something along campaign trail that is surprising you?
I talk to Republicans / Democrats / Independents and I’m surprised how many people are frustrated with the current state of politics. Someone can be a staunch Republican, yet when I bring up the need for more dialogue, we can start to talk and really learn from each other. When we talk, we see we aren’t that much different from each other and our desires are pretty similar.
And the more we talk, the more I see that my reason for running will impact every single person whom I’ll represent.
The reason why I’ve been so involved with community organizations, and the reason I’ve decided to run for NC House 104, is because I know how important it is to have someone in the room advocating for you.
When I was in 3rd grade, you had to be selected to take the Advanced Gifted (also known as Gifted & Talented and AG) test. At first, I was not selected. Fortunately, my mom was a public school teacher and she advocated for me with the principal. I got to take the test and got into the AG program. It changed the trajectory of my path.
I started to realize that I was in the advanced classes, not because I was smarter than other people but because someone was an advocate for me. I grew up aware of that. I didn’t grow up taking it for granted, so that shaped the understanding of my opportunity.
For people in our district, we need someone in Raleigh who will speak up for and find practical pragmatic solutions to our problems.
This is why I became a lawyer. It’s why I started at a Civil Rights law firm. It’s why I serve in the community. And it’s why I’m running for office.
What do you do when you’re not running for office?
I spend as much time as possible with my family! My wife, Kellie, and I met our first day of class in Hamilton 101 of Poli Sci at UNC Chapel Hill. We now have two boys.
We hang out with our boys. Friday is fun Friday and we go to Brooklyn Pizza right there on Colony and Rea. My boys play tennis and chess. We like to be outdoors and go to Crowders Mountain and take hikes. We watch movies. We hang out together as a family.
What’s your favorite thing about being on the trail?
Meeting people. Hearing about their concerns. What they’d like to do differently.
If/when you’re elected, what is the first thing you’ll do?
The first thing I will do is increase the respect and support for schools and healthcare costs. One of the things we can do is bring up the teacher pay to the national average. We can provide more resources in terms of teacher assistance and expand support for early childhood education and expand Medicaid access.
If I win and a number of other people win, hopefully it sends the message that extreme politics is not working. Those who we represent want us working together. I believe folks are ready for a new kind of politics.
Who is your hero in the political world?
When Mayor Foxx was here, I learned a lot from him. Former President Barack Obama has been an inspiration to me. I was inspired by his message of getting beyond partisanship and moving forward into a better future.
Did you always want to run?
I think a better description of me is, I’ve always wanted to be involved with the community. The way things are going on a state level compelled me take the next step to run for public office. There is a limit as to what we can do in Charlotte, unless we get help from Raleigh.
My connection with different nonprofits and with the DNC has allowed me to see that we need more help from our state. To meet our goals, we have to get permission and a partnership from our state government.
What does the fall look like?
The fall is looking good. There is a lot of energy—we’ve got a lot of energy and a lot of volunteers. We’re trying to get our message out and win this on Nov. 6.
Where can people find you?
Thank you for spending time with me, Brandon. Now, for a few questions I like to ask all of my interviewees. What’s your favorite?
Restaurant: Copper (with my wife), Brooklyn Pizza (family)
Coffee: Coco & the Director
Sports team: Carolina Tar Heels
TV show: Lost in Space reboot on Netflix
Movie: The Avengers movies
Book: The Years of Lyndon Johnson series by Robert Caro
Place to workout: YMCA or Orange Theory
New thing in CLT: The Uptown Baseball Stadium
Old thing in CLT: The Symphony in the Park at SouthPark Mall
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