What’s next in the search to fill Charlotte’s open city council seat

What’s next in the search to fill Charlotte’s open city council seat
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Applications close Tuesday at 5 p.m. to fill the open at-large city council seat James “Smuggie” Mitchell vacated earlier this month.

Zoom out: The person who fills this role will serve out the remaining 10 months of Mitchell’s term. As WFAE reported, in the past, the city asked that this appointed person pledge not to run for that seat in the next election (which is this fall). But city attorney Patrick Baker told council they can’t make that a formal part of the selection process.

  • The state requires that Mitchell’s replacement be a Democrat. The person must also be at least 21 years old.
  • Interested in the job? You can apply online.

A few names have emerged to fill the seat, including former city councilmen Dr. Justin Harlow and Greg Phipps, who both separately told WSOC’s Joe Bruno they are interested.

  • Bruce Clark, executive director of the Digital Charlotte initiative at Queens University, posted his application submission online. Clark was also the campaign manager for former Mayor Anthony Foxx.

During a call with reporters his last day in office, Mitchell said he had a short list of five candidates to fill his seat. He’d like to see a Black woman in the job.

  • Mitchell did not respond to a request for the identities of the candidates he recommended. The city declined to share the names of the applicants so far.

What’s next: The city is hosting a public forum at 11 a.m. on January 29 for everyone who applied for the job. City council will vote on the selection on Feb. 1.

In recent days, a number of others said they are interested in running for the open at-large seat this fall.

Curtis Hayes Jr., a community activist who made headlines over the summer for his peaceful involvement in the protests following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. In a powerful photo, Hayes stood on I-277 with tear running down his cheek while he talked to a Black teenager about the generations of injustice.

  • “We must bring a calm and respectful dialogue to find meaningful solutions for the people of Charlotte,” Hayes said in a statement.

Charlotte City Council member Larken Egleston, who currently represents District 1 said he’s interested in focusing more on big-picture projects such as the immigration compact he led in 2019.

  • “I’d like to spend more time on longer range projects that impact the city. You just don’t have the bandwidth to do that if you’re spending 50% of your time on rezonings,” Egleston told me.

Former city council member LaWana Mayfield, who ran unsuccessfully for an at-large seat in 2019, said she’s motivated to run again by the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on communities of color.

  • “I believe I have a lot more to offer our beautiful city as discussion of transportation, housing affordability, access and equity continue to dominate many of our conversations,” Mayfield said.
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