The celebration started long before election results were official.
For the Anthony Foxx supporters gathered at the uptown Westin, it mattered little that a handful of precincts were still out – the scent of victory filled the air.
Amid chants of “Yes We Can,” some in the crowd began dancing.” The Ray Charles tune “Hit the Road Jack” became a song of celebration, the crowd substituting the words “Hit the Road Pat,” a reference to Qcity Mayor Pat McCrory, a Republican who served an unprecedented 14 years over seven elections.
When the evening was done, Charlotte had elected its first African American mayor since Harvey Gantt. Foxx, a 38-year-old attorney and at-large member of city council, defeated John Lassiter with more than 51 percent of the vote.
When Foxx arrived at Tuesday night’s victory celebration, he mounted the platform and gave a long hug to Gantt, an early supporter.
“It’s been 22 years since we’ve had this moment,” Foxx told the cheering crowd, referring to the last time a Democrat was elected to lead the city. “The work of rebuilding our community starts very soon.”
Foxx pledged to pull together Republicans, Democrats and independents, whites, blacks and Hispanics.
He also continued the theme he stressed throughout his entire campaign – the story of a west Charlotte kid who grew up without a father to overcome unlikely odds.
“My life example proved what this city must do,” he said, “which is the simple thing of believing in yourself.”
Among the first people he thanked was his mother.
“When there where times I didn’t necessarily know what I’d become, she knew,” he said.
The final vote count was not as close as some had predicted. With a week to go, some polls showed Foxx at best tied with Lassiter, and at worst trailing significantly.
Foxx won with a 6,449-vote cushion.
Foxx carried a wide swath of precincts in the heavily populated and heavily Democratic areas of west and east Charlotte. Lassiter’s got strong support in the Republican precincts in the south and southeast.
More than 45,300 people voted a straight party-line ticket. Nearly 57 percent of those voted a Democratic ticket, versus 42.7 percent who voted straight Republican.
Foxx won big in the precincts that are predominately African American. At the East Stonewall AME Zion Church off Beatties Ford Road, he won 1,307 votes to Lassiter’s 3, according to the Charlotte Observer.
Gantt, who served two terms from 1983 to 1987, later told Qcitymetro that race played little or no role in Foxx’s victory.
“I think Charlotte has chosen well,” he said. “It chose, in my opinion, the best candidate.”
Lassiter, a business owner and at-large council member, ran a campaign based largely on his experience in business and government. He previously served on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board and built a staffing agency with offices now in four cities.
In his concession speech Tuesday, he congratulated Foxx and said the campaign had been positive and issues based.
“This race really was about the kinds of things that I think this community really cares about,” he said.
As for the voters at Foxx’s victory party, it all boiled down to change.
“I think Foxx is a man for all the people, equally and fairly,” said Mary C. Martin. “I’m as happy as I can be to have a native son be a mayor of this city.”
Said Omari Green, a campaign volunteer: “Foxx represents that it doesn’t matter where you come from or what happened in the past. Anything can happen.”
“Charlotte is headed in a new direction,” said Tracy Montross. “I’m glad to be apart of it. It’s all about vision, and we are finally on the right track.”
Lashawnda K Becoats contributed to this report.