Before going to the polls, Tanya Lewis weighed all the options in regard to voting on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Bond. There could be a potential tax increase, but the district is in dire need of addressing school conditions.
At the end of the day, she decided to vote for the bond.
She said the bond is needed to fix the “horrible” conditions that some of the facilities are in, especially some of the district’s Title IX schools.
“We need to upgrade the educational environment for all of our children,” she told QCity Metro. “Some of the environments are just downright unhealthy.”
In spite of a push from Black clergy members encouraging people to vote no, the bond passed with 63% of votes.
Mayor Vi Lyles earned a preliminary victory, getting re-elected with 73.6% out of 87,285 ballot votes, defeating Republican candidate Misun Kim (21.36%) and Liberal candidate Rob Yate (4.65%).
The victory secured her a fourth term atop the city’s government. Lyles was first elected mayor in November 2017, the first Black woman to hold that title.
Lyles said she continues to strive to make Charlotte the “best place to live in the country.” That starts with addressing the affordable housing crisis and public transportation, she said.
“Whatever it takes, that’s what we are going to tackle,” she said.
When asked when she plans to step away from city government, Lyles left that in the hands of the voters.
“I think the people decide when I stop,” she said.
Charlotte City Council
Charlotte City Council will see two new faces after Election Day. The at-large seats along with Districts 3 and 6 were the only contested races. District 1’s Dante Anderson, District 2’s Malcolm Graham, District 4’s Renee Perkins Johnson, District 5’s Marjorie Molina and District 7’s Ed Driggs ran unopposed.
James “Smuggie” Mitchell, Dimple Ajmera and LaWana Slack-Mayfield reclaim their at-large seats while Victoria Watlington joins the group.
Watlington, who previously represented District 3, takes over an empty seat after Mayor Pro Tem Braxton Winston announced he was not seeking re-election to instead run for labor commissioner.
Tiawana Deling Brown won the District 3 seat, defeating James Harrison Bowers with more than 78.52% of the 7,957 votes cast in her district.
Brown, who previously served four years in federal prison collectively for fraud charges, faced criticism from challengers and opposers.
She is the first formerly incarcerated person to earn a city council seat.
Despite some negative perceptions of formerly incarcerated people, Brown said she isn’t ashamed of her past. She wants her victory to encourage other formerly incarcerated people to pursue their goals.
“It’s not what they call you. It’s what you answer to,” she told reporters Tuesday.
Incumbent Tariq Scott Bokhari won a closely contested battle to retain his District 6 seat against Stephanie Hand. He secured 50.74% out of the 23,053 votes cast in his district.
His victory comes a year after defeating Hand in his previous bid for re-election.
“It’s a great honor,” Bokhari told WBTV moments after the final vote was counted. “It’s a critically important job, and it’s my honor to go back and continue the job I do.”
Fourteen candidates were vying for the three at-large seats on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education.
Two of the seats were vacated by Jennifer De La Jara and Elyse Dashew, both of whom did not seek re-election.
Incumbent Lenora Ship led vote-getters with 14.75% of votes. She secured her second term and will be the second most-tenured board member behind Thelma Byers-Bailey, who’s represented District 2 since 2013.
She was followed closely by Monty Witherspoon and Liz Monterrey, both with 12.41% of votes.
Witherspoon is a minister with two young children. He ran unsuccessfully for an at-large seat in 2019 and for the District 2 seat last year.
Monterrey, a first-time candidate, becomes the first Latina school board member in a district where about 30% of students are Hispanic. She has a preschool child and came to Charlotte in 2020.
Yes to School Bonds
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Bond Referendum passed with 63.07% of votes.
The $2.5 Billion bond, the largest school bond package in the state, will fund the renovation and replacement of 30 schools across the district.
The referendum requires property taxes to be raised by one cent per $100 on three separate occasions, the first in 2025, then again in 2028 and 2029.
Tamika McCullough has lived in Charlotte for nearly four decades and attended CMS schools from elementary to high school.
McCullough said she voted yes for the school bond because “public schools need as much help as they can get.”
Now, with a son of her own, she wants to ensure he’ll have a great learning experience.
“We need to make sure that our children have the best resources they can have to get the best education,” she said. “It’s up to us as voters to make sure they get that.”
Tanya Lewis, the former education chair of the local NAACP has been an advocate for the school bond.
The district is faced with an academic achievement gap. Lewis said she believes school renovations and replacements in the bond initiative will help address the issue.
“These underperforming schools have been underresourced for decades,” she said.
Krista Duffield has only lived in Charlotte for more than two years and knows very little about the school district.
Duffield said she voted yes for the school bonds because she understands the importance of the public school system.
Funding is key to academic success, she said.
“There are teachers and schools that need investments,” she said.