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If Foxx resigns, his replacement may come from outside City Council

When and if Democrat Anthony Foxx resigns as mayor of Charlotte, expect the city’s elected leaders to pick a replacement from outside the City Council.

And according to some council members, don’t expect a decision any time soon.

A White House official said Sunday that Foxx will be nominated for U.S. transportation secretary, replacing Ray LaHood. The mayor could not be reached.

Foxx said last month he would not seek a third term. It’s unclear if he’ll resign before his Senate confirmation hearing or wait until he would be confirmed.

The 11-member City Council will choose a replacement to fill the remaining months of Foxx’s term, which ends in December.

Who that will be is unclear.

But a couple things are clear. By law, any replacement has to be a Democrat like Foxx. For another, it won’t be a council member who would run for the office once filing opens in July.

“From my perspective, it’s important to make sure we not have someone serving in the position of mayor who may be also vying for that post,” Mayor Pro Temp Patrick Cannon said Sunday. “The last thing anybody would want is for someone to suggest that serving in that post somehow gives them a leg up.”

Cannon is considering a run for mayor. So is at-large council member David Howard.

“I would not support anybody who was going to run for the position,” Howard said. “So if Patrick announced, as I’ve heard rumors he will, I would not support Patrick.”

It also appears unlikely that any of the council’s seven other Democrats would be interested. In practical terms, taking the appointment would mean they couldn’t run for re-election to their current seat.

The only council member who has said he plans to step down after this term is Republican Andy Dulin.

Democrat Patsy Kinsey said she has no plans to seek the post.

“I am in the camp of going outside council to fill the mayoral role,” she said, “and somebody who’s not going to be running.”

There are several precedents for council looking outside to fill a vacancy.

After Democrat Susan Burgess died in 2010, council members named her son Jason to her seat. In 2004 they tapped Gregg Phipps to fill the seat of Malcolm Graham, who’d been elected to the state Senate.

And in 1999, they appointed lawyer David Erdman to fill the unexpired term of fellow Democrat Al Rousso.

Democrat Michael Barnes said the council won’t be in a hurry to name anyone. First, he said, it has to deal with the legislative push to put Charlotte’s airport under control of an authority. Then there’s the city budget, which has to be done by June.

“In light of our form of government, I don’t think there’s a rush to make a selection,” he said. “And I’m sure we’ll take our time and figure out who we’d like to have in that spot.”

Howard said there’s at least one criterion for him.

“It would be important to find somebody who had a clue where we are as a city,” he said, “and where we need to proceed for the rest of the year.”

Morrill: 704-358-5059
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