The Agenda guide to upcoming city council and mayoral elections

The Agenda guide to upcoming city council and mayoral elections
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Over the next three months, voters in the area will decide on Charlotte’s mayor and city council, select Mecklenburg County’s at-large school board members and sales tax rate, and help finally settle the 9th Congressional District race between Democrat Dan McCready and Republican Dan Bishop.

City council will have at least three new faces after the primary and general elections — two current district representatives aren’t running and another is vacating her seat to run for an at-large one.

Early voting for municipal primaries and the 9th Congressional race starts on Wednesday and runs through September 6. Election Day for those races is September 10.

Why it matters: Because city council decides on everything from whether we should extend an invitation to the Republican National Convention to affordable housing projects to funding for the police department. The 9th Congressional District, which includes southeast Charlotte, was at the center of a national election fraud scandal last year. The school board decided superintendent Clayton Wilcox needed to resign, and decided Earnest Winston should stay on full-time. And a new sales tax affects everyone.

Voter turnout in municipal primary elections is usually low. In 2017, when Vi Lyles beat incumbent Jennifer Roberts in the Democratic mayoral primary, turnout was just under 8 percent. That means every vote matters.

You can check to make sure you’re registered using this link. You can also register and vote at all early voting locations (a list of them can be found here.)

Beyond early voting, you still have a few more chances to register this fall: Register by September 13 for any October primary runoffs, or by October 11 for the all-important November general. You can find your polling location using this link.

Charlotte mayor

Vi Lyles, a former city budget writer and assistant city manager, became Charlotte’s first female African-American mayor when she beat Republican Kenny Smith in 2017. Lyles has been lauded for leading a proposal to get a $50 million affordable housing bond on the ballot last year (the initiative passed in a citywide vote in 2018). She has received mixed reviews for her support of bringing the 2020 Republican National Convention to Charlotte.

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles

Challenging Lyles in the September primary are a few Democrats who have run for the position before: Roderick Davis, Tigress Sydney Acute McDaniel and Lucille Puckett. Joel Odom, who turns 21 a month before the general election, is seeking public office for the first time. A native Charlottean, Odom says that as mayor, he’d focus on economic mobility and reducing violent crime.

Republican David Michael Rice will face the Democratic primary winner in November. The last time Charlotte had a Republican mayor was 10 years ago, when Pat McCrory held the position.

City Council at-large

Charlotte’s City Council has 11 members. Seven are elected from specific districts of the city; the other four are “at-large,” meaning they’re elected by the entire city. You’ll vote in your district race and for four “at-large” members.

The Democratic at-large race might be the most intriguing primary of all. It includes four incumbents: Dimple Ajmera, Julie Eiselt, James (Smuggie) Mitchell and Braxton Winston. LaWana Mayfield, a Democrat who currently represents District 3, is also running for an at-large seat. Jorge Millares, a local businessman whose parents are from Cuba, is running to become the first Latino on city council, and he recently received the endorsement of the powerful Black Political Caucus. Also running for an at-large seat is Democrat Chad Stachowicz, who ran unsuccessfully in 2018 for N.C. Senate. Only four of the seven will advance to the general election.

Joshua Richardson is running for an at-large seat on the Republican side.

The districts

City Council District 1: Democrat Larken Egleston, the current representative for the east Charlotte seat that incorporates Plaza Midwood and surrounding areas, is running against newcomer Sean Smith. No Republican is running.

City Council District 2: Democrat Justin Harlow, council’s youngest member at 31, said in June he wouldn’t seek reelection. Four Democrats are hoping to fill Harlow’s seat: Jeremy Arey, Jessica Davis, Antoinette (Toni) Green and Malcom Graham, a former state senator and past City Council member. Jacob Robinson, a digital marketing strategist, is the lone Republican running for the District 2 seat. This northwest Charlotte district has only ever elected African-American Democrats.

City Council District 3: Democrat LaWana Mayfield currently represents this wide-reaching west Charlotte district that stretches from Freedom Drive to Steele Creek. But she is running for an at-large seat this year. Democrats seeking votes from her west/southwest Charlotte district include Terry Brown, Caleb Theodros and Victoria Watlington. No Republicans are running.

City Council District 4: With Democrat Greg Phipps stepping down, six Democrats and one Republican are vying for this north Charlotte seat. The Democrats include: Richmond Baker, Gabe Cartagena, Charlene Henderson El, Renee Perkins Johnson, Charles Robinson and Sean Thompson. Brandon Pierce is the lone Republican vying for the job. 

City Council District 5: Democrat incumbent Matt Newton faces two opponents in the east Charlotte district: Vinroy Reid and Mark Vincent. No Republicans are running.

City Council District 6: No primary for this southeast Charlotte seat. Incumbent Republican Tariq Bokhari will face Democrat Gina Navarrete in the general election in November.

City Council District 7: Representing the farthest reaches of southeast Charlotte, Republican incumbent Ed Driggs faces Republican Victoria Nwasike, a business owner, former attorney and current vice-chair of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Committee. 

N.C. 9th Congressional District

This is technically the last congressional race from 2018, when Democrat Dan McCready narrowly lost to Republican pastor Mark Harris. The N.C. Board of Elections refused to certify the election earlier this year, though, amid concerns over election fraud. McCready, a Marine Corps veteran and entrepreneur, has taken a middle-of-the-road approach as he seeks to flip a district that’s been held by Republicans since 1963. McCready favors universal background checks and expanding Medicaid within North Carolina, but has said he’s not in favor of the so-called Green New Deal climate change proposal backed by other Democrats.

Dan McCready

Dan McCready

McCready’s opponent is Republican Dan Bishop, who has served in the N.C. Senate since 2017. Bishop co-sponsored House Bill 2, the controversial law that limited legal protection for LGBTQ individuals, favors overturning the Affordable Care Act and supports access to guns.

Dan Bishop

Sen. Dan Bishop

The two other candidates running in the 9th District are Jeff Scott, a Libertarian, and Allen Smith, a Green Party candidate.

Black Political Caucus endorsements

The Black Political Caucus of Charlotte-Mecklenburg is a force in a county where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1. This year, after an initial inaccurate tallying of endorsement votes, the group ultimately endorsed Mayor Vi Lyles in her re-election campaign, along with 10 other City Council Democrats, The Charlotte Observer reported recently.

Here are the BPC endorsements. (Note: In District 4, none of the candidates received enough votes — 40 percent — required for an endorsement, the Observer reported.)

  • City Council at-large: LaWana Mayfield, Braxton Winston, James Mitchell, and Jorge Millares
  • District 1: Larken Egleston
  • District 2: Malcolm Graham
  • District 3: Terry Brown
  • District 5: Matt Newton
  • District 6: Gina Navarrate
  • District 7: Victoria Nwasike

Upcoming election dates, and what we’re voting for

September 10 (skip the line with early voting, which runs from August 21 through September 6): Eligible Charlotte residents can vote in the municipal primary races for mayor and city council, as well as the 9th Congressional District race.

October 8 (skip the line with early voting, which runs September 18 through October 4): All Charlotte residents can vote in the second primary for city council for mayor, if those races were too close to be decided in September.

November 5 (skip the line with early voting, which runs October 16 through November 1): For Charlotte residents, this is the general election for mayor and city council. It’s also when all of Mecklenburg County chooses our at-large school board members.

Also, we’ll vote on whether to increase the sales tax from 7.25 percent to 7.50 percent to help fund arts, parks and education. The hike would bring $50 million in additional revenue to the city each year. Of that, $22.5 million would go to the Arts & Science Council, $17 million to parks and greenways, $8 million to education, and $2.5 million to other arts projects in the county’s smaller towns.

In other Mecklenburg County races, Cornelius, Huntersville, Matthews, Mint Hill, Pineville and Davidson residents will choose their town boards and mayor, and the town of Stallings has two council seats up for election.

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