Democrats Keep Firm Grip On Charlotte
Democrats maintained their 9 to 2 majority on the Charlotte City Council last night and easily kept hold of the mayor's seat, with Patrick Cannon winning by five percentage points.
There are several new faces, but mostly just a shuffling of seats on Charlotte's city council. Democrats still control the dais, with the longest-serving among them moving to the center spot as mayor. Patrick Cannon says his victory is the realization of a lifelong goal from the time he became the city's youngest councilman at age 26.
Last night, he rode the increasingly Democratic make-up of Charlotte voters to beat Edwin Peacock, who was the last Republican to hold a city-wide position in Charlotte. Peacock lost his at-large seat on the city council in 2011 after serving two terms.
Democrats held on to all four at-large council seats – led by former District 4 representative Michael Barnes who will likely be named Mayor Pro Tem. While the council's party split remains 9-2, Barnes expects things to be different.
"I think around that dais you will see moderate, moderate, middle-of-the-road type leadership and we had kind of gotten off center a bit and I think that's what concerned a lot of people in the city," Barnes says.
For example, during last year's divisive budget battle, Barnes, Cannon and Claire Fallon - another of last night's at-large winners - all broke ranks with their fellow Democrats to oppose using property taxes for a streetcar. Rounding out the four at-large seats are incumbent David Howard and newcomer Vi Alexander Lyles, who's not that new at all, having served for years in Charlotte city administration.
Other new faces to the dais include Democrats Alvin Austin, representing the District 2 seat vacated by long-time councilman James Mitchell and Greg Phipps who took Michael Barnes' old seat in District 4.
Republicans kept their grip on the council's two South Charlotte seats held for several terms by Andy Dulin and Warren Cooksey. Real estate broker Kenny Smith and retired banker Ed Driggs will carry the Republican torch on the council. They'll be too outnumbered to block any votes by a unified Democratic front, but they could have power than their predecessors if the council does prove to be a more moderate bunch.