CHARLOTTE – The morning after Vi Lyles became the first African-American woman elected mayor of Charlotte, she reflected on her personal journey in a heartfelt Facebook post.
It began growing up during segregation as the daughter of a man who didn’t finish high school, yet becoming one of five African-American students attending Queens College. It continued through 40 years of public service, all while raising a family and seeing her children raise families.
“Quite frankly, if that isn’t the type of dream we have for our children – to thrive in this city – I don’t know what is,” Lyles wrote.
Lyles, who lives not far from SouthPark, defeated City Councilman Kenny Smith on Nov. 7 to succeed Mayor Jennifer Roberts. She carried 59 percent of the vote.
Smith tried to convince voters that electing Lyles would be like enduring another term under Roberts, who was criticized for bungling a nondiscrimination ordinance, as well as protests over police department.
Lyles kept her campaign positive. She emphasized her experience serving as an assistant city manager from 1996 to 2004, as well as campaigning on her vision for a more equitable Charlotte.
When campaigning in Ballantyne, she shared ideas of how Charlotte can stimulate more affordable housing, as well as infrastructure projects to help broaden the tax base on the east and west side of town.
Her ascension to mayor comes at a price. Smith will be leaving city politics.
Over two terms, Smith represented the SouthPark area of the city, advocating for a better connected road network and helping connect the business community to have a single voice.
“Soon I will begin the next chapter in my life,” Smith wrote on his Facebook page. “It has been the honor of my life to serve on the Charlotte City Council. Thank you so very much for the support you have given me the past four years, especially during my campaign to become mayor.”
Smith, a Republican, congratulated Lyles on her win and encouraged everyone to come together as a city.
Republicans were no match for Democrats in the Charlotte City Council At-Large race either. All four Democrats got elected, including councilmembers Julie Eiselt, Dimple Ajmera and James Mitchell Jr.
Challenger Braxton Winston joined them, evoking a headline from WBTV of “from protest to politics.” Winston took part in protests last year after the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.
When Ajmera was appointed to the District 5 council seat earlier this year, she was the first Asian-American to serve.
“We made history tonight and along with my new and old colleagues will make charlotte the most prosperous, inclusive, diverse, most welcoming city in the United States,” she told supporters on election night.
Tariq Scott Bokhari won Kenny Smith’s District 6 seat on the council, earning 62.5 percent of the vote.
The day after the election, he was already attending a public meeting to learn more about the design of a bridge over Sardis Road.
Voters re-elected Ed Driggs to his third term to the District 7 seat on the council. Driggs is an elder statesman on the board, considering six of the 11 councilmembers elected are under the age of 40, according WSOC.
Others newly elected to the council include Larken Egleston (District 1), Justin Harlow (District 2), Lawanna Mayfield (District 3), Greg Phipps (District 4) and Matt Newton (District 5).
Margaret Marshall earned 64 percent of the votes in a three-person race for Eric Davis’s District 5 seat on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education.
“This year has been like no other in my life,” Marshall told Facebook followers. “I have met so many people along the way who believe in public schools. We will lock arms and wade in deep and make this work for all kids in our area.”
Sean Strain won Paul Bailey’s District 6 on the school board by defeating Allen Smith.
Marshall and Strain join a school board that includes veterans Rhonda Lennon, Thelma Byers-Bailey and Ruby Jones, as well as newcomer Carol Sawyer.
More than 148,000 people voted in this election, putting voter turnout at 21 percent. Two years prior, 94,958 people voted, putting turnout at 14.8 percent.
Unofficial results in select races
Charlotte Mayor (1 chosen)
Vi Lyles (DEM) – 71,876 (59.13%)
Kenny Smith (REP) – 49,555 (40.77%)
Write-In – 130 (0.11%)
Charlotte City Council At-Large (4 chosen)
Julie Eiselt (DEM) – 73,168 (17.28%)
Braxton Winston II (DEM) – 69,868 (16.50%)
James (Smuggie) Mitchell Jr. (DEM) – 69,617 (16.45%)
Dimple Ajmera (DEM) – 61,720 (14.58%)
John K. Powell Jr. (REP) – 48,185 (11.38%)
Parker Cains (REP) – 43,990 (10.39%)
David Michael Rice (REP) – 34,676 (8.19%)
Steven J. DiFiore II (LIB) – 21,458 (5.07%)
Write-In – 639 (0.15%)
Charlotte City Council District 6 (1 chosen)
Tariq Scott Bokhari (REP) – 15,361 (62.54%)
Sam Grundman (DEM) – 7,878 (32.08%)
Jeff Scott (LIB) – 1,297 (5.28%)
Write-In – 24 (0.10%)
Charlotte City Council District 7 (1 chosen)
Ed Driggs (REP) – 13,136 (62.03%)
Sharon Roberts (DEM) – 8,030 (37.92%)
Write-In – 12 (0.06%)
CMS School Board District 5 (1 chosen)
Margaret Marshall – 21,177 (64.10%)
Jeremy A. Stephenson – 6,369 (19.28%)
Jim Peterson – 5,339 (16.16%)
Write-In – 155 (0.47%)
CMS School Board District 6 (1 chosen)
Sean Strain – 11,528 (56.68%)
Allen Smith – 8,619 (42.38%)
Write-In – 190 (0.93%)
School Bonds (1 chosen)
Yes – 105,407 (72.69%)
No – 39,600 (27.31%)