CHARLOTTE, NC (Steve Harrison/The Charlotte Observer) - Two City Council incumbents were defeated in their re-election bids in the Democratic primary Tuesday. Patsy Kinsey lost the District 1 seat she has held for 12 years, and three-term council member Claire Fallon was outside of the top four in the at-large race.
Kinsey and Fallon's losses will usher in massive change for the council, which will start its new term in December with at least five new members out of 11. There also will be a new mayor, as incumbent Jennifer Roberts lost to Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles in the Democratic primary.
Kinsey, 76, lost to first-time candidate Larken Egleston, who said Kinsey was out-of-touch. He was particularly critical of her vote against a rezoning for the Van Landingham Estate, a historic property in Plaza Midwood. Owner Billy Maddalon wanted to build townhomes and a swim club on part of the property while preserving the house.
Egleston, 34, said the rezoning should have been approved. Kinsey won in neighborhoods such as Dilworth and Sedgefield, but she lost heavily in Plaza Midwood, where many residents were upset that the rezoning failed.
In addition to being a council member, Kinsey was also mayor. She was appointed to the job in the spring of 2013 after Anthony Foxx stepped down to become U.S. Secretary of Transportation, and served for eight months.
"We knew Plaza Midwood would be a big win," Egleston said. "But in general there is an appetite for new blood. People don't view council seats as Supreme Courts appointments – they aren't meant to be held for life. When you've got viable alternatives people don't always want the same thing."
With all precincts in, Egleston defeated Kinsey, 50 to 43 percent, in unofficial results.
Fallon, 83, was elected in 2011, in a Democratic wave led by Foxx, who won reelection that year.
She was one of the most independent council members, often voting with the council's two Republican members on issues like the streetcar. She often feuded with her Democratic colleagues, and had even pledged that she wouldn't run again. She was a staunch defender of former fire investigator Crystal Eschert, who recently won a whistleblower lawsuit against the city.
In the at-large race, the top four Democratic finishers advance to the November general election. Fallon was in sixth.
"I'm not upset about it all," Fallon said Tuesday night. "I'm most proud of what I've done for that girl and the Fire Department. I served my time and did what I could for the community. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish."
With most of the precincts in, incumbent James Mitchell finished first.
Julie Eiselt, another incumbent, was in a tight battle for second place with Braxton Winston, a first-time candidate who became one of the leading voices during the Keith Scott protests a year ago.
"We all experienced a lack of leadership last fall, and an inability to think big and outside the box," Winston said. "Those leaders and those ideas weren't presenting themselves."
With 158 of 168 precincts in, Winston was ahead of Eiselt by 50 votes.
Dimple Ajmera, who was appointed to the District 5 seat in January, finished fourth. Ajmera, the first Indian-American on council, received perhaps the most publicity of any candidate when she said in the summer that people who voted for President Trump should have no place on council or in the mayor's race.
Eiselt, Mitchell, Winston and Ajmera were all endorsed by the Black Political Caucus. The caucus also backed Lyles.
There are three Republican candidates running at-large, two of whom are viable candidates: John Powell and Parker Cains. The GOP did not have an at-large primary. There is also a Libertarian candidate running, Steven DiFiore II.
In heavily Republican District 6, Tariq Scott Bokhari defeated Eric Laster , 54 to 46 percent, with all in. Bokhari will be favored in the November election against Democrat Sam Grundman and Libertarian Jeff Scott.
The south Charlotte seat is held by Kenny Smith, who is running for mayor.
"At the end of the day, it was probably the grass roots support that won it," Bokhari said. "We got outspent 3-1 and I was really nervous. But I think we did everything perfectly."
The Democratic primaries for districts 2, 4 and 5 have large fields. If no candidate receives 40 percent of the vote, there will be a run-off in October.
In the District 2 race, Justin Harlow (42.9 percent) and J'Tanya Adams (42.75 percent) were almost tied with 15 of 19 precincts in.
In District 5, Darrell Bonapart (34 percent) was leading Matt Newton (29 percent) with 23 of 25 precincts in. They appeared headed for a run-off.