Joel Odom: Facebook

While some of us were finishing off the July 4th BBQ, others used Friday, July 5, to launch their careers in local politics. In total, 28 people used that first day of filing to announce their candidacies for various offices throughout Mecklenburg County.

Here are three races we chose to highlight:

For Charlotte Mayor: Democrat Joel Odom filed to run against incumbent Vi Lyles. At age 20, Odom is said to be the youngest candidate running for any local office so far. He won’t turn 21, the minimum age to be mayor, until a month before election day.

Odom will face long odds against Lyles, a political veteran who knocked off incumbent Mayor Jennifer Roberts in the last Democratic primary and won 59 percent of the vote in the last general election.

“We know the person with the most endorsements doesn’t always win,” Odom told the Charlotte Observer. “What motivated me to run is seeing so many young people dying on the street.”

City Council District 2: Jessica C. Davis, a political newcomer, wants to be the first woman ever elected to represent the district that includes Johnson C. Smith University and much of the Beatties Ford Road corridor. The seat will be open after incumbent Justin Harlow said he won’t seek re-election.

Jessica Davis

Davis has the backing of J’Tanya Adams, a community leader who came within 20 votes of beating Harlow for the Democratic nomination two years ago. Adams told Qcitymetro she won’t run this time because of grant-funded work she’s doing in the district – efforts that might create a conflict of interest. 

Former state Sen. Malcolm Graham has said that he, too, wants that District 2 seat, though he didn’t file on Friday.

City Council District 3: As of Friday, no one had filed for the seat currently held by Democrat LaWana Mayfield, who is stepping down to run at-large.

Filing season ends at noon on July 19. Keep up with what will be a growing list of candidates.

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