MVA Monitor – Election Report

November 8, 2017

2017 Charlotte General Election Report

Charlotte welcomes a new mayor and a host of new faces on the city council later this year, following the general election held Tuesday, November 7. Voter turnout was higher than recent off-year municipal elections with 21 percent of registered voters casting ballots.

Democrat Vi Lyles defeated Republican Kenny Smith in the mayoral election and is set to become the first African-American woman to serve as Charlotte’s mayor. The election also ushered in a number of millennials and political newcomers to the Charlotte City Council. The city will have two new at-large council members and four new district representatives. Both Lyles (at-large) and Smith (District 6)  will be rolling off the council.

Although there will be a number of new members around the dais, the political makeup of the council remains unchanged. Democrats retained the mayor’s office and again swept the four at-large seats. District representation also remains consistent with five Democrats and two Republicans.

Charlotte’s mayor-elect and city council are scheduled to take the oath of office December 4.

Voters also cast ballots for Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board and approved a $922 million school bond package.

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Charlotte City Council 2018-2019

Mayor of Charlotte
Vi Lyles (D)

Julie Eiselt (D)*
Braxton Winston (D)
James Mitchell (D)*
Dimple Ajmera (D)

District 1: Larken Egleston (D)
District 2: Dr. Justin Harlow (D)
District 3: LaWana Mayfield (D)*
District 4: Greg Phipps (D)*
District 5: Matt Newton (D)
District 6: Tariq Bokhari (R)
District 7: Ed Driggs (R)*


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Vi Lyles led early-voting and continued to gain steam with early returns on election night, never relenting the lead to Kenny Smith. She won with 59 percent of the vote.

Lyles brings city government work experience to the mayor’s office having previously served as a budget director and assistant city manager. She currently serves as the mayor pro tem.

Although some pundits expected a closer race, Democrats outnumber Republicans in Charlotte nearly two-to-one. As the number of unaffiliated voters continue to grow in Charlotte, they will remain a key voting bloc in local elections.

Democrats remain in control of all four city-wide seats, with two incumbents and two newcomers elected at-large. Julie Eiselt was the top vote-getter and enters her second term as the likely mayor pro tem. First-time candidate Braxton Winston came in second. Longtime councilman James Mitchell and Dimple Ajmera round out the at-large seats.
  • Eiselt enters her second term as the highest vote-getter for the second time. Traditionally, the winner of the at-large race is elevated to serve as mayor pro tem.
  • Winston, a millennial and political newcomer who gained attention as an activist following the Keith Scott shooting, edged out longtime councilman Mitchell for the second seat.
  • Mitchell will be serving his second at-large term and will be the longest tenured member on council, having previously represented District 2 for 14 years.
  • Ajmera will fill the final at-large seat following her first election to city council. Ajmera was appointed to serve a partial term as the District 5 representative when John Autry vacated the seat in January 2017.
Districts 1, 4 and 5 
Candidates in these strong Democratic districts had no challengers in the general election.
  • Democrat newcomer Larken Egleston will represent District 1 after unseating longtime councilwoman Patsy Kinsey in the primary.
  • Incumbent Democrat Gregg Phipps returns to the northeast District 4.
  • Newcomer Democrat Matt Newton will represent east Charlotte’s District 5 after defeating Darrell Bonapart in an October 10 runoff.

District 2
Democrat newcomer Justin Harlow beat out Republican Pete Givens to represent District 2. Harlow won his primary by just 13 votes, but was a decisive winner against Givens.

District 3
Incumbent Democrat LaWana Mayfield secured her District 3 seat against Republican challenger Daniel Herrera. This marks Mayfield’s third term on council as the district representative.

District 6

Republican Tariq Bokhari was elected to his first term, defeating Democrat Sam Gunderson and Libertarian Jeff Scott in District 6. Councilman Kenny Smith vacated this seat to run for mayor.

District 7

Incumbent Republican Ed Driggs defended his District 7 seat against Democrat Sharon Roberts. This marks his third term on council as the district’s representative.

School Board
In addition to mayor and city council, voters cast ballots for six non-partisan Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education seats. All three incumbents running defended their seats, and three new board members, endorsed by outgoing board members, will fill the other open seats.
  • Rhonda Lennon – District 1 (incumbent)
  • Thelma Byers-Bailey – District 2 (incumbent)
  • Ruby Jones – District 3 (incumbent)
  • Carol Sawyer – District 4
  • Margaret Marshall – District 5
  • Sean Strain – District 6
School Bonds
Voters also approved a $922 million school bond referendum providing for 29 “high-need” projects, including new and replacement schools, building renovations and other infrastructure improvement needs. The projects will include:
  • 10 new schools ($481 million)
  • Seven replacement schools ($305 million)
  • 12 renovations and additions ($136 million)