Who is, and isn’t, running in Mecklenburg County 2023 elections

Who is, and isn’t, running in Mecklenburg County 2023 elections

Photo: Alexandria Sands/Axios

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Early voting is happening at these 19 sites now through Nov. 4.

Redistricting south Charlotte schools. Mending a broken bus system. Promising tax dollars for a tennis tournament.

  • These are just a few of the local issues that struck a nerve over the last year: Ones that had residents telling officials, “We’ll remember how you voted.” Come Nov. 7, it’s time to follow through on those promises, or threats, at the polls.

Driving the news: After a couple weeks of candidates signing up for the election, filing closed Friday afternoon. Incumbents and hopefuls alike now must hit the campaign trails.

Why it matters: Local elections are often overlooked — despite the impact they have on our daily lives.

Public officials have made many consequential decisions over the past several months. Sometimes, these votes come down to one or two people.

Are you registered to vote? Use voter search to check.

Below is a list of who is running for which seats in the 2023 local elections.

Charlotte City Council

Go deeper: Charlotte City Council incumbents sweep low-turnout primary


  • Vi Lyles (D) is running for a fourth term. The mayor doesn’t usually vote but can break a tie. She said in her campaign video she wants to “finish what we started,” referring to affordable housing, safety and recruiting jobs.
  • Misun Kim (R0b)
  • Rob Yates (L)


Here’s who’s running for the four at-large seats:

  • Dimple Ajmera (D) is an incumbent first elected in 2017 and was the top vote-getter in 2022. She chairs the Budget, Governance and Intergovernmental Relations Committee.
  • James “Smuggie” Mitchell (D) was reelected at-large last year after a confusing series of events over a potential conflict of interest with a construction company.
  • LaWana Slack-Mayfield (D) was elected at-large last year and previously served District 3 from 2011 through 2018.
  • Victoria Watlington (D) currently represents a western portion of Charlotte in District 3. She chairs the Housing, Safety and Community Committee.
  • Steven DiFiore (L) is the only non-Democrat at-large candidate. He ran as the libertarian candidate for governor in 2020 and got 1% of the vote.

District 1

  • Dante Anderson (D) is unopposed in District 1, which includes Dilworth, Plaza Midwood and parts of Uptown.

District 2

  • Malcolm Graham (D) currently represents a northern portion of Charlotte, comprising Third and Fourth Wards and Wesley Heights. He’s a former state senator and currently chairs the Jobs and Economic Development Committee. He defeated Gary Young in the primaries.

District 3

This candidate will replace Watlington to represent a western portion of Charlotte.

  • Tiawana Brown (D) runs a Charlotte nonprofit, Beauty After the Bars, which aims to prevent the incarceration of women and girls.
  • James H. Bowers (R) served on the Charlotte Motor Vehicle Review Board for five years.

District 4

  • Renee Perkins Johnson (D) represents the northeastern part of the city. She founded Triumph Services, an organization serving brain trauma survivors. She successfully defended her seat against Wil Russell and Olivia Scott in the primaries.

District 5

  • Marjorie Molina (D) is a bilingual council member representing the diverse eastern District 5. Much of her first term has been focused on finding a suitable land use for the Eastland Mall redevelopment. She faces no challengers in the general election after surpassing Vinroy Reid and Curtis Hayes Jr. in the primaries.

District 6

  • Tariq Bokhari (R), executive director of the Carolina Fintech Hub, is hoping to hang onto his seat for a fourth term in his purple district. He is one of two council members representing the GOP.
  • Stephanie Hand (D) is expected to pose tough competition for Bokhari. She lost by just 357 votes in the last election.

District 7

  • Ed Driggs (R), a council member since 2013, is unopposed yet again. He represents the southeast.

Charlotte City Council districts. Courtesy of Mecklenburg County

Who’s not running? Mayor Pro Tem Braxton Winston is running for North Carolina Commissioner of Labor in 2024 instead of seeking his at-large position again.

Go deeper: In January, Axios asked sitting council members what they wanted to accomplish in their unusually short, 15-month term. Here’s what they said

Mecklenburg County Board of Education

Fourteen candidates are vying for three at-large seats on the school board. The board is nonpartisan, meaning candidates’ party affiliations won’t appear on the ballot.

  • Lenora Shipp is the only incumbent at-large member running for reelection. A West Charlotte High School graduate, Shipp went on to work for more than three decades for the school system. She retired in 2014 and has been on the board since 2019.
  • Bill Fountain, a former middle and high school teacher, is running again after failing to secure a district seat in 2022.
  • Juanrique Hall, another candidate who fell short in the last election, is giving the at-large race a shot. He’s an alumnus of West Charlotte High School, a football coach and an outreach worker for the city’s Alternatives to Violence program.
  • Shamaiye Haynes is another first-timer who says she was inspired to run to guarantee Charlotte children who live in poverty receive a quality education.
  • Brian Kasher is a former Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools environmental health manager who has criticized the district.
  • Liz Monterrey moved to Charlotte in 2021 from Miami. Her children are future CMS students.
  • Monty Witherspoon, who ran last year in District 2, is throwing his hat in the ring again. He’s a reverend and member of the Black Political Caucus.
  • Clara Kennedy Witherspoon is running again after facing tough competitive in the District 4 race last year. She was a CMS student through the years of integration and is a retired school counselor.
  • Annette Albright is a former district employee who settled a lawsuit with the school board in 2018 after she was attacked by students and then subsequently fired. She ran for a school board seat in 2017 and 2019.
  • Tigress Sydney Acute McDaniel has run for several different offices locally, including mayor and soil and water conservation district supervisor.
  • Claire Covington
  • Omar Harris
  • Michael Johnson
  • Peggy Capehart

Who’s not running? Chair Elyse Dashew told the Observer she is taking a “sabbatical.” At-large member Jennifer De La Jara is also not seeking reelection. There will be at least two new faces on the board.

Other towns

Huntersville: A hot mayoral race is in store. Former state House Rep. Christy Clark (D) and town commissioners Derek Partee (R) and Dan Boone (R) will face off to replace Mayor Melinda Bales.

  • Bales is running for the state House in 2024 to replace north Mecklenburg Rep. John Bradford, a Republican who is campaigning for state treasurer.

At a time when the town faces major growing pains, 17 candidates have joined the race for just six commissioner seats in Huntersville.

Cornelius: Incumbent Mayor Woody Washam (R) faces a challenge from a sitting commissioner, Denis Bilodeau (R).

Matthews: Mayor John F. Higdon (R) is unopposed.

Mint Hill: Mayor Brad Simmons (R) is unopposed.

  • All four incumbent commissioners are running to retain their seats: Dale Dalton (mayor pro tem), Twanna Henderson, Patrick Holton and Tony Long.
  • They face a challenge from Matthew Schwoebel.

Pineville: Mayor Pro Tem Ed Samaha (unaffiliated) is running against former councilmember David Phillips (R).

Davidson: Davidson can sit back and relax; there won’t be much of a race at all.

  • Mayor Rusty Knox (D) faces no challenger.
  • There are five candidates for five seats: Incumbents Matt Dellinger, Ryan Fay, Autumn Rierson Michael and Tracy Mattison Brandon all filed for reelection. That leaves newcomer Steve Justus guaranteed to replace Mayor Pro Tem Jane Campbell, who is not seeking reelection.

This story was originally published in July and updated after the Charlotte City Council primaries.

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