In 10 years as mayor of Raleigh, Charles Meeker transformed a city with much potential into a city with a revitalized downtown, a greater responsiveness to the needs of the less fortunate and a commitment to improve the lives of all citizens.
Now Meeker, a Democrat, offers a serious challenge to Republican Commissioner of Labor Cherie Berry, who was first elected in 2000. Berry’s four-term performance has been marked by weak enforcement of labor laws and an apparent lack of interest in the well-being of the state’s workforce.
Instead, she has been a friend to employers, many of whom have funded and are still funding her campaign. On Wednesday, Meeker called out Berry for accepting contributions from companies with open cases before her office. “It doesn’t look good,” Meeker said. “Obviously.”
One set of contributions Meeker cited came from Ronald Cameron of Arkansas, whose company, Mountaire Farms, is a large poultry producer based in Delaware. Cameron, Berry’s biggest contributor, has given her campaign a total of $10,000. Mountaire Farms had three open cases before the North Carolina labor department earlier this year.
Berry shouldn’t be taking such contributions, but she’s done it before, as The Charlotte Observer reported. The Observer also reported that contributors seem to get bigger breaks on fines than others.
Berry wants another term, but she needs first to explain what she has done – and has decided not to do – in her terms so far.