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Election Results: Bokhari Likely to Eke Out Another Win

Democrats' endorsees clean up on school board

Charlotte city skyline from North Tryon street
Check below for a rundown of Mecklenburg County election results. (Photo by Grant Baldwin)

With most of the competitive races for Charlotte City Council seats happening during the September primaries, all eyes were on District 6 election results on Tuesday, and the race came down to the wire as expected, according to the NC State Board of Elections.

Running against Democrat Stephanie Hand for the second time in 16 months, Republican incumbent Tariq Bokhari ended the night with a 357-vote lead, just five more votes than he won by in July 2022. That said, with hundreds of mail-in and provisional ballots still uncounted, the race is still too close to call.

Bokhari proclaimed victory from his election watch party at Selwyn Pub in Myers Park on Tuesday night, though Hand has not yet conceded at the time of this writing, saying she would like to wait for all the ballots to be counted.

The District 6 race had heated up in recent days, following Charlotte Ledger’s reporting that questioned how Hand represented her professional past. Hand had been quoted saying she “ran airports” in the past, despite not having managed actual airports. Instead, it was reported that Hand had worked as a former executive operations manager with HMSHost, which handles most of the food service in the airport.

On Monday, Bokhari complained that the Charlotte Observer refused to run an ad that depicted Hand’s face photoshopped onto someone wearing a pilot’s uniform, though the paper has a clear policy against running altered images of candidates in political ads. On Tuesday, Bokhari hired a plane to fly around Charlotte pulling a banner that read, “WANT THE PLANE TRUTH? VOTE BOKHARI!”

CMS Board election results

The other big race of the night was for three at-large seats on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education. Incumbent Lenora Shipp was the top vote-getter in that race, with Monty Witherspoon and Liz Monterrey taking the other two seats — each of the latter two received 12.41% of the vote in a race that included 14 candidates.

Witherspoon and Monterrey will fill the two seats left empty by Board Chair Elyse Dashew and at-large rep Jennifer De La Jara, who endorsed Monterrey to take her seat.

Rev. Monty Witherspoon. (Campaign photo)

All three of the winning candidates were endorsed by the Mecklenburg Democratic Party.

The CMS Unity Slate, made up of three candidates whose support from conservative backers drew suspicion from Democrats, finished 6th, 7th and 8th in the race. None received more than 8% of the vote. Juanrique Hall, the only candidate to receive an endorsement from the local Moms for Liberty chapter, finished in last place.

Learn more: Local Democrats Raise Questions About CMS Unity Slate

In other CMS election news, the $2.5-billion bond package for local schools was easily approved by voters with more than 63% of the vote.

The vote will result in property tax increases in 2025, 2028 and 2029 of 1 cent per $100 valuation, with funding to go to 30 projects at local schools.

Learn more: What’s in the CMS Bond Referendum?

In Huntersville, former NC Rep. Christy Clark, who made her name in politics with the Moms Demand Action organization that advocates for common sense gun laws, won the mayoral race with 48.47% of the vote. She beat out Republican Dan Boone, who’s served as a commissioner in Huntersville since 2015.

LaToya Rivers, chair of the Pottstown Heritage Group, will be a new Huntersville town commissioner. (Photo by Grant Baldwin)

Democrats were also able to take full control of the Huntersville Board of Commissioners, winning all six seats. First-time candidate LaToya Rivers, who has spearheaded grassroots anti-gentrification efforts with the Pottstown Heritage Group, was one of the six Democrats to earn a seat on Tuesday.

Learn more: One of Mecklenburg’s Oldest Black Communities Makes Itself Seen

New at-large rep Victoria Watlington ended the night with the most votes for Charlotte City Council, earning 243 more votes than runner-up Dimple Ajmera. That makes Watlington the favorite for mayor pro-tem, though it’s not guaranteed; Ajmera was the top vote getter last year and did not get the title.

Fellow incumbents James “Smuggie” Mitchell, Jr. and LaWana Slack-Mayfield were the third and fourth vote-getters, respectively, meaning all will keep their seats on council. Mayor Vi Lyles easily won her race for reelection, meaning she will serve a fourth term.

The 120,074 votes recorded in Mecklenburg County on Tuesday mean the county saw a 15.47% turnout compared to 4.92% in the September primaries and 12.06% in the 2022 Charlotte City Council election. Both of the latter two were citywide elections as opposed to the countywide elections held on Tuesday.

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