Mayor Vi Lyles wins third term, Bokhari wins tight District 6 race
Republicans had big plans for At-Large upsets but fell well short and barely held on to their seats
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - It is Election Day in Charlotte, an unusual time to cast a ballot as it’s in the middle of summer and not exactly what voters are used to.
The election was pushed back because Charlotte City Council districts were redrawn based on new Census data. Polls closed at 7:30 p.m.
Voters chose candidates for Charlotte mayor, city council at-Large, where up to four candidates can be chosen, and council seats in Districts 1 through 7.
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Incumbent mayor Vi Lyles (D) won the mayoral race against Stephanie de Sarachaga-Bilbao (R). This will be Lyles’ third term in office. It’s Lyles third dominant win, although her margin of victory shrank from 77% in 2019 to 88% in this election. Democrats are already wondering if this is Lyles’ last term and potential candidates are eyeing the seat.
Dimple Ajmera, Braxton Winston, LaWana Slack-Mayfield and James (Smuggie) Mitchell, all Democrats, are the four winners of the Charlotte City Council at-large seats. Ajmera received the most votes, putting her in contention for the Mayor Pro Tem seat. Current Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt did not run for re-election.
Candidates in Districts 1, 4, 5 and 7 are all unopposed.
New faces on City Council include District 1 Councilmember Dante Anderson and District 5 Councilmember Marjorie Molina. Both Democrats secured their seats by winning in the primary.
One of the most watched races is in District 6, where Democrat Stephanie Hand faced Republican incumbent Tariq Bokari. A Democrat has never won this seat.
Bokhari narrowly won his re-election bid by 377 votes. A loss would have left District 7 Councilman Ed Driggs as the sole remaining Republican.
Republicans had big plans on capitalizing on the odd timing of the election and issues like the UDO that have proven divisive. The local GOP organized a slate of candidates to run for the at-large seats in hopes of winning an upset but the closest Republican was nearly 14,000 votes short of the lowest polling Democrat, James “Smuggie” Mitchell. The last Republican to win an at-large seat was Edwin Peacock in 2009.
More than 28,000 people cast a ballot in early voting. Unlike that period, voters must vote at their precinct on Tuesday.
Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, elections director Michael Dickerson talked about what he hopes to see as far as turnout.
“In the middle of a year, vacation time, turnout is usually 15 to 20%. And something like this, we’re hoping if we get 15% we’ll be lucky and be good,” Dickerson said.
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