Charlotte’s heated local election came to an end Tuesday evening with few surprises.
The vote will result in Charlotte’s first African-American woman as mayor and a much younger City Council. No Republicans won citywide office for the second cycle in a row.
Vi Lyles will be Charlotte’s next mayor after a decisive 59-41 victory over Republican Kenny Smith.
She captured the Democratic Party’s nomination in surprising fashion, defeating current Mayor Jennifer Roberts by a wide margin in September’s primary election.
Lyles capitalized on her predecessor’s controversial handling of two major issues — a nondiscrimination ordinance that resulted in severe pushback from the state legislature, and massive protests over the police shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott last fall. In response, Lyles wrote a “Letter to the Community” as mayor pro tem that pledged progress on affordable housing and workforce development.
While Roberts was quick to wade into national debates, Lyles promised to focus on local issues.
Lyles also successfully fended off strong criticism from political opponents over her votes in favor of toll lanes, including the widely maligned toll project on I-77 north of Uptown.
The City Council will remain steady with a 9-2 Democratic majority after Tuesday’s election.
Charlotte has 11 members of its City Council. Four are elected at-large, voted on by everyone in the city. The other seven are elected by district.
Democrats took all four at-large seats, while Republicans held on to two district seats.
Julie Eiselt was the top overall vote-getter in the at-large race after securing the endorsement of the influential Black Political Caucus and enjoying wide crossover appeal among moderates and Republicans. She will be in line for the mayor pro tem position, as is customary for the winner in the at-large contest.
Braxton Winston, who burst onto the Charlotte political scene during the Scott protests, will be the only newcomer among those four. Dimple Ajmera moves into an at-large seat after being appointed as a district representative earlier this year. Both Winston and Ajmera are in their 30s, replacing significantly older candidates.
As expected, Democrat Justin Harlow, 29, trounced his opponent in west Charlotte’s District 2 after winning the party nomination by just 16 votes.
Democrat LaWana Mayfield, Charlotte’s first openly gay City Council member, handily won another term representing South End and Wilmore.
Republican Tariq Scott Bokhari won his race to represent south Charlotte’s District 6, the seat currently held by Kenny Smith.
Ed Driggs, a Republican, also held onto his seat.
Three City Council seats were locked up before Tuesday’s election.
Larken Egleston, 34, defeated incumbent Patsy Kinsey in District 1 in the September primary and was unopposed on the general election ballot. Democrats Greg Phipps (an incumbent) and Matt Newton also ran without an opponent.
Incumbents performed well in the school board elections.
Rhonda Lennon, Thelma Byers-Bailey and Ruby Jones all kept their seats.
The other three candidates who won were all endorsed by their predecessors.
Carol Sawyer won her bid for east Charlotte’s District 4. Margaret Marshall, endorsed by outgoing Eric Davis, won south Charlotte’s District 5.
Sean Strain, the pro-neighborhood schools candidate, won a seat in the Matthews-Mint Hill District 6.
The school bond referendum passed by a 3-1 margin.