CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- City Council member Kenny Smith Thursday joined the ever-expanding race for mayor of Charlotte.
Smith becomes the first Republican to enter the race to unseat Democratic incumbent Jennifer Roberts.
With his wife and children at his side, Smith told a cheering crowd Thursday morning that he had a better plan for Charlotte than any Democrat in the race.
"Charlotte desperately needs a blueprint that focuses on our shared priorities, not the issues that divide us," said Smith.
During his time on the City Council, Smith voted against expanding the city's anti-discrimination ordinance.
That ordinance led the legislature to pass House Bill 2 that has cost the city jobs, money and sporting events like the NBA All-Star Game.
Smith now joins Roberts, who is running again, and her Democratic challengers, State Senator Joel Ford and Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles.
Smith says his theme will be "Charlotte deserves better".
"The City of Charlotte continues to miss opportunities for growth because our government lacks the vision and leadership necessary to capitalize on our assets," Smith said.
The Roberts campaign says the hurdle Smith faces as a Republican is how many people now feel about President Donald Trump and the Republican leaders of the legislature in Raleigh.
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