Who’s running? Here are Charlotte’s City Council and mayoral candidates

Charlotte polls open Aug. 21 for residents to vote early in the local primary elections. Several City Council races will be decided during the primaries.

Charlotte-City-Council-resolution-Donald-Trump-remarks

Charlotte City Council members voted 9-2 on a proposed resolution to condemn "racist and xenophobic" remarks made by President Donald Trump. Photo: Olivia Richard

We’re less than a month away from Charlotte’s Sept. 10 primary election, and polls open for early voting on Wednesday.

There are at least two history-making races on the ballot this year, including the youngest Charlottean running for mayor and potentially the first African American woman to be elected to represent District 2. (Carlenia Ivory was appointed in 2017 after Al Austin stepped down to take a job with the state Department of Transportation.)

Primary elections typically have lower turnout than general elections, but some districts won’t have to wait until November to learn the outcome of their races. Next month’s primaries will decide Democratic council seats in Districts 1, 3 and 5, as well as a Republican council seat in District 7. In the end, Charlotte’s City Council makeup will likely continue to be overwhelmingly Democrat.

Below is the list of candidates for Charlotte’s mayoral and council races.

Mayor

Five challengers are looking to unseat incumbent Vi Lyles as Charlotte’s mayor.

During a Tuesday Morning Breakfast Forum earlier this month, Lyles stated that her first term was focused on affordable housing. If voted for a second term — she’d be Charlotte’s first re-elected mayor since Anthony Foxx in 2011 — Lyles said she will focus on transportation. However, major decisions made under her leadership, like hosting the 2020 Republican National Convention, coupled with an uptick in violent crimes and the ongoing affordable housing crisis remain relevant to voters.

At age 20, Joel Odom is vying to become the youngest Charlottean running for mayor. Roderick Davis and Lucille Puckett have both previously campaigned to be Charlotte’s mayor. The Democratic primary winner will face Republican candidate David Michael Rice in November.

Candidates

  • Vi Lyles (incumbent), D
  • Roderick Davis, D
  • Tigress McDaniel, D
  • Joel Odom, D
  • Lucille Puckett, D
  • David Michael Rice, R

City Council at-large

At-large board seats are unique in that representatives are chosen from all Charlotte voters and not a specific district. Residents will elect four at-large seats from the eight hopefuls.

Incumbents Julie Eiselt, James Mitchell, Dimple Ajmera and Braxton Winston are looking to retain their seats. LaWana Mayfield won’t return to her District 3 seat, in favor of running for an at-large spot.

Candidates

  • Dimple Ajmera (incumbent), D
  • Julie Eiselt (incumbent), D
  • James Mitchell (incumbent), D
  • Braxton Winston (incumbent), D
  • Jorge Millares, D
  • LaWana Mayfield, D
  • Chad Stachowicz, D
  • Joshua Richardson, R

City Council District 1

With no Republican opponents, Charlotte’s District 1 council member will either be incumbent Larken Egleston or newcomer Sean Smith. Egleston defeated Patsy Kinsey for the seat in 2017.

District 1 is located just southeast of Uptown. It includes neighborhoods such as Dilworth, Plaza-Midwood, Grier Heights, Myers Park, Elizabeth, Chantilly and Windsor Park.

Candidates

  • Larken Egleston (incumbent), D
  • Sean Smith, D

City Council District 2

In June, current District 2 council member Justin Harlow announced he wouldn’t seek a second term. Candidates for Harlow’s soon-to-be-vacant seat aim to tackle affordable housing and violent crime issues. A handful of Democratic newcomers will campaign against former council member and state senator Malcolm Graham.

District 2, located west of Interstate 85 along Beatties Ford Road corridor and extends northwest to Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road, houses several of Charlotte’s historically Black neighborhoods that have experienced gentrification and inequality in school choice. The Democratic primary winner will face Republican candidate Jacob Robinson in November.

Candidates

  • Jeremy Arey, D
  • Jessica Davis, D
  • Malcolm Graham, D
  • Antoinette Green, D
  • Jacob Robinson, R

City Council District 3

With LaWana Mayfield running for an at-large seat, the opportunity to represent District 3 was scooped up quickly by three millennial candidates.

The district encompasses areas southwest of I-85, including parts of South End and Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. It has a history of varied needs like affordable housing and transit-oriented development. District 3 also boasts some of the city’s more recent economic development deals like Lowe’s technology center that’s taking shape in South End.

Candidates

  • Terry Brown, D
  • Caleb Theodros, D
  • Victoria Watlington, D

City Council District 4

The District 4 race will land a replacement for incumbent Greg Phipps, who decided not to run for re-election. With the LYNX Blue Line extension now running from Uptown to UNC Charlotte and a slew of housing and retail being developed along the light rail, this is prime time for University City residents to step up and advocate for a better quality of life.

The race hosts a diverse range of candidates from Charlene Henderson El, a small business owner who names community policing as a capital campaign focus, to Gabriel Cartagena, a UNCC student energized to act after the mass shooting on campus.

Candidates

  • Richmond Baker, D
  • Gabriel Cartagena, D
  • Charlene Henderson El, D
  • Renee Perkins Johnson, D
  • Charles Robinson, D
  • Sean Thompson, D
  • Brandon Pierce, R

City Council District 5

Incumbent Matt Newtown faces two Democratic challengers to represent east Charlotte. No Republican candidates are running for the district seat.

For years, the top issue for District 5 has been the redevelopment of Eastland Mall, which closed in 2010. It has since been purchased by the City who hopes to revitalize the 80-acre site through a strong public-private partnership.

Candidates

  • Matt Newton (incumbent), D
  • Vinroy Reid, D
  • Mark Vincent, D

City Council District 6

Tariq Bokhari, who currently represents south Charlotte’s District 6, gained some bipartisan popularity through “R&D in the QC,” a podcast he co-hosts with Democratic councilman Larken Egleston.

Bokhari will face off in November against Gina Navarette, co-president of the Charlotte Women’s March. Navarette is trying to become the first Latina elected to the seat.

Candidates

  • Tariq Bokhari (incumbent), R
  • Gina Navarrete, D

City Council District 7

Two Republican candidates are vying for southeast Charlotte’s District 7 seat, Ed Driggs and newcomer Victoria Nwasike. No Democrats are running.

Nwasike has solidified her role in Ballantyne’s future as the new chair of South Charlotte Partners and the Ballantyne Breakfast Club.

With a major redevelopment on the horizon and walkability as a major theme of reimagining the swanky suburb, having a representative who advocates for better planning and equitable growth will be a major key.

Candidates

  • Ed Driggs (incumbent), R
  • Victoria Nwasike, R

Early voting locations

The Hal Marshall Annex will be the single site open on the first day of early voting. The remaining 12 locations will welcome early voters beginning Aug. 22. Early voting ends Sept. 6.

See below for locations and times. Primary election day is Sept. 10; general elections will be held Nov. 5.

  • Hal Marshall Annex, 618 N. College St.
  • Charlotte Mecklenburg Library – Beatties Ford Road, 2412 Beatties Ford Rd.
  • Elon Recreation Center, 11401 Ardrey Kell Rd.
  • Charlotte Mecklenburg Library – Independence Regional, 6000 Conference Dr.
  • Charlotte Mecklenburg Library – Main, 310 N. Tryon St.
  • Charlotte Mecklenburg Library – Matthews, 230 Matthews Station St.
  • Charlotte Mecklenburg Library – Mint Hill, 6840 Matthews – Mint Hill Rd.
  • Charlotte Mecklenburg Library – Morrison Regional, 7015 Morrison Blvd.
  • Smith Family Center, 1600 Tyvola Rd.
  • Charlotte Mecklenburg Library – South County Regional, 5801 Rea Rd.
  • Former Hollywood Video, 11130 S. Tryon St.
  • Former Pier 1 Imports, 8802 JW Clay Blvd.
  • Charlotte Mecklenburg Library – West Boulevard, 2157 West Blvd.
Charlotte-early-voting-sites
Via Mecklenburg County Board of Elections

Managing Editor Katrina Louis contributed to this article.


Christine Edwards is a local government professional with a love for the community. In her spare time, she volunteers, travels, enjoys good southern food and loves seeing urban policy theory play out in everyday life. Public service is her jam.

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