When Dan Clodfelter was appointed mayor of Charlotte last month, he resigned from his position as state senator. This Saturday, 50 Democratic Party officials will decide who will fill his seat.
There are four candidates in the running: assistant district attorney Jeff Jackson, former Charlotte Mecklenburg School board member Amelia Stinson-Wesley, former Charlotte city council member Billy Maddalon and east Charlotte activist Darrell Bonapart.
They all participated in a public forum Tuesday night at the Asian Library near uptown.
The candidates were very cordial, had many of the same positions on topics such as teacher pay, LGBT rights and coal ash storage. It was so friendly that they took a photo together afterward.
They were trying to appeal to people like Jane Whitley. She’s president of the Democratic Women of Mecklenburg County, and one the 50 party officials who can pick who will fill the District 37 state Senate seat left vacant by Dan Clodfelter. Whitley says she thinks more people should be able to vote.
"I am one of the fifty voters. That would represent thousands of voters in a regular election," Whitley says.
But she says it helps that all four candidates are qualified.
"I would vote for all four of them in a heartbeat," Whitley says.
Jim McEwen, chair of Precinct 11 in uptown Charlotte, says he's intrigued by the process.
"We all kind of get in groups and talk about 'What did you think about who was this person and how do you think? Oh I think this guy was great, I think this woman is tremendous, I think that point was really good,'" McEwen says. "But we're all shaking our heads going, you know this is going to be a good vote. It's going to be interesting to see how it turns out."
The person he and other precinct leaders select will go on to fill a two and a half year term. The candidate would first finish up the rest of Clodfelter's senate term this year and then, because he has no challengers on the November ballot, they'll go on to fill a new two year-term.
The vote will take place on Saturday, May 3 at the Little Rock AME Zion Community Development Center.