Later today, Democratic State Senator Dan Clodfelter will resign the seat he’s held for 8 terms so he can become the next Mayor of Charlotte. Last night, Clodfelter was appointed by the City Council to serve what remains of Patrick Cannon’s term.
It was councilman Greg Phipps that got the Clodfelter ball rolling last night when he nominated the state legislator to become Charlotte's next mayor.
Less than six minutes later it was a done deal.
The vote was 10 to 1, LaWana Mayfield the sole dissenter. She wanted former councilman James “Smuggie’ Mitchell to get the job, especially since he ran for may last year. "I have a concern when out of the four democrats that chose to actually run, we're saying ok, give us the opportunity, we're going to make a different decision."
In fact, Councilman David Howard nominated Mitchell. Howard even asked Mitchell supporters in the audience to stand in a show of support. They did, some even held yard signs that read James Mitchell for Mayor.
Mitchell was in the audience as well, but his hopes for the office quickly died when he garnered just four of the six votes needed.
This, along with a few citizens calling for a special election was the only bit of drama in what was otherwise a pro-forma night. The council had known for hours who the next mayor would be.
"Earlier in the afternoon it was fairly clear," said Mayor Pro Tem Michael Barnes. "I think that we will find ourselves able to move on now as a community and a city."
As to why Clodfelter was the council’s pick Barnes said "He brings a fresh perspective. He’s not on the body and in light of what we’re going through right now its not bad to have someone who’s not on this body and hasn’t been in recent times. " Barnes added, "We’ve put ourselves in a position where we can have a fresh start."
A fresh start perhaps but one with a seasoned politician who may be able to help the city navigate some tough issues that need cooperation from lawmakers in Raleigh. "Things like the airport will certainly test the leadership skills and diplomacy of someone in the mayor’s office," said Michael Bitzer, a political science professor at Catawba College, "He could certainly cross those bridges unlike somebody who’s coming from certainly inside charlotte politics."
Dan Clodfelter will officially be sworn in as mayor tomorrow.
When asked if he would seek election in 2015, Clodfelter said he had no long term plans for the office. He says his first priority is to bring “stability” back to Charlotte.