Charlotte officially has a new mayor in office. Democrat Patrick Cannon was sworn in, along with the rest of the city council, at last night’s Oath of Office ceremony.
After Mecklenburg County Judge Tyywadi Hands swore him in, Mayor Cannon gave his first speech in office. The mayor discussed working collaboratively with his colleagues and creating stronger connections between government and business.
He shied away from the campaign’s controversial issues, including any mention of the city’s current lawsuit against the state over control of Charlotte-Douglas Airport. And, Cannon avoided mentioning the streetcar project, while still highlighting transit as a policy priority.
“Transit is the back bone of our future,” Cannon said. “We must continue smart redevelopment all along the LYNX Blue Line. We must work together to find funding solutions for other transit lines, and for the complete transit system— for cars, walkers, and bikers.”
The mayor is presumably referring to the streetcar as one of the other transit lines that requires “funding solutions.” During the primary, Cannon’s opponent, former councilman James Mitchell, criticized him for opposing a proposal championed by then-mayor Anthony Foxx to raise the property tax to pay for a streetcar. In the run-up to the general election, Republican candidate Edwin Peacock attacked Cannon for ultimately voting for another version, which passed, that seeks federal money to fund the streetcar.
At the ceremony, the new city council composed itself on the dais for the first time, and quickly found an item of discord. The council had to elect one of its own for the largely ceremonial Mayor Pro Tem position. Frequently in the past the council has chosen the At-Large member who received the most votes—in this case, Democrat Michael Barnes.
District 3 Councilwoman LaWana Mayfield criticized that tradition before the vote. Still, Barnes was the only nominee and won all but three votes. Mayfield, along with Councilmen John Autry and David Howard—all Democrats—opposed. Afterward, Autry said he wanted to make a statement, although he knew Barnes had the votes.
“We differ on several issues, about transit, housing, environmental issues,” said Autry. “I’ve always sought his support and never quite been able to get it. I appreciate him being on council, we just differ on issues.”
The Mayor Pro Tem presides and leads meetings when the mayor isn’t present, but lacks the mayor’s veto power.