City Council candidates in their 30s defeat incumbents and advance

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Charlotte’s City Council will likely look a lot younger this fall.

Three candidates in their 30s defeated significantly more experienced incumbent candidates to win their Democratic primary election Tuesday and advance to the general election.

Braxton Winston, 33, and Dimple Ajmera, 31, both earned enough votes to be among the four Democratic candidates for the council’s at-large seats. A notable candidate who didn’t: incumbent Claire Fallon.

Larken Egleston, 34, defeated incumbent Patsy Kinsey (a former mayor of Charlotte) in District 1, which includes Elizabeth, NoDa and Plaza Midwood.

A fourth 30-something candidate — Republican Tariq Scott Bokhari, 37 — will be heavily favored to win in November.

He took about 53 percent of the vote in District 6, the south Charlotte district currently represented by Kenny Smith, who’s the Republican candidate for mayor.

A fifth young candidate — Justin Harlow, 29 — had a 13 vote margin  over J’Tanya Adams with all precincts reporting. The Mecklenburg County Board of Elections said Wednesday morning that provisional and absentee ballots are still to be counted and “It is conceivable the results will change.” But if the results hold, he’ll be the heavily favorited Democratic candidate in District 2, which represents west Charlotte.

The City Council has 11 members. Seven are elected from districts. Four are elected from the city as a whole.

All five were among an unusual number of Millennial candidates threw their hat in the ring for this year’s municipal election, tired of waiting their turn and energized by last year’s presidential campaign.

[Agenda story: So many millennials are running for local office. Do any stand a chance?]

With his victory in the Democratic primary, Egleston is guaranteed a seat on the City Council. There are no Republican candidates in the race.

Winston and Ajmera will face the other two Democrats — incumbents James “Smuggie” Mitchell and Julie Eiselt — and Republicans John Powell and Parker Cains for four seats in November.

The choices of Winston and Ajmera indicate an unhappiness with the status quo. Both are counted among the more activist in their party.

Winston came to the forefront of the public’s eye in the protests over the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott last year by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officer.

Ajmera has a penchant for making controversial statements, including that Trump supporters have no place in Charlotte’s government. She was not particularly close with the Charlotte political establishment. They weren’t thrilled that she ran at-large after being appointed to her District 5 seat in January.

Margins in all the races were razor thin with less than 8 percent voter turnout.

Phipps keeps his seat

Incumbent Greg Phipps narrowly avoided a runoff with 40.25 percent of the vote in District 4, which represents University City. The Democrat will hold his seat since there are no Republicans in the race.

District 5 likely heading for a runoff

No candidate hit the 40 percent threshold in District 5, which encompasses east Charlotte.

Darrell Bonapart, an Army veteran with the endorsement of the Black Political Caucus was the leader with 34.6 percent of the vote.

He will likely face Matt Newton, an attorney with the endorsement of LGBT groups. He finished with 28.5 percent of the vote and is entitled to request a runoff, which would occur in October.

Only 259 votes separated the two candidates.

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Andrew Dunn
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