Local GovernmentNews & Opinion

Democrats Lose No Seats in Charlotte City Council Elections

Bokhari pulls out win in tight District 6 race

Charlotte City Council
Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles is sworn in for her second term in 2019. She won her third term on Tuesday. (Photo by Grat Baldwin)

There will be some new faces at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center dais come September but the political makeup of Charlotte City Council will go unchanged following municipal elections that wrapped on Tuesday. Democrats kept control of all four at-large seats, with two former members earning a return to council; and Tariq Bokhari, one of only two Republican members on council, winning his race in District 6 by just 377 votes. 

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles also won reelection on Tuesday, though she did so handily, more than doubling the vote total of Republican candidate Stephanie de Sarachaga-Bilbao. 

In the at-large race, Dimple Ajmera was the top vote getter, which makes her frontrunner for Mayor Pro Tem. Current Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt did not run for reelection. Ajmera’s fellow incumbent Braxton Winston was the second highest vote getter, followed by two former members who will return to council: LaWana Slack-Mayfield (District 2, 2011-2019) and James “Smuggie” Mitchell (District 2, 1999-2013; At-large, 2015-2021). 

“I’m deeply grateful and humbled to have overwhelming support throughout the city,” Ajmera wrote in a tweet on Tuesday night. “It’s not what we say, but it’s what we do that matters.” 

A release from the Victory Fund, an advocacy group that supports LGBTQ candidates for elected office, pointed out that Slack-Mayfield will become the first out LGBTQ person ever elected citywide in Charlotte. 

“LaWana is a skilled leader who has delivered real, meaningful results for the Charlotte community during her time on city council. Voters were clearly inspired by her deep policy experience and vision for a more equitable future,” wrote former Houston mayor Annise Parker, president and CEO of Victory Fund.

“With so much at stake this election, LaWana’s win tonight is a clear sign the LGBTQ community and our allies are more eager and motivated than ever to make our voices heard at the ballot box this year. We are confident LaWana will continue making positive change for her community and that she will, no doubt, inspire others from our community to run for office.”

Charlotte City Council members Renee Johnson and Victoria Watlington laugh during a 2019 swearing-in ceremony.
Council members Renee Johnson (left) and Victoria Watlington will keep their seats on Charlotte City Council. (Photo by Grant Baldwin)

In the only other contested races, Democratic incumbents Malcolm Graham (D2) and Victoria Watlington (D3) beat out their Republican opponents with 82% and 77% of the vote, respectively. Ed Driggs went unchallenged in District 7, as did newcomers Dante Anderson in District 1 and Marjorie Molina in District 5

A group of Republican newcomers who tied in with Bokhari’s campaign, calling themselves The Slate, were handed losses during Tuesday’s election. 

According to the North Carolina State Board of Elections, 12% of registered voters in Mecklenburg County voted in the municipal elections, less than the 14% who voted in the May primaries, which included state and county races. 

The new Charlotte City Council will be sworn in on Sept. 6, 2022. This November’s general election, including federal, state and county elections, will begin absentee voting on Sept. 9, with early in-person voting beginning on Oct. 20. 

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