Charlotte council member Al Austin plans to resign in July following his appointment as outreach director for Historically Black Colleges and Universities at the N.C. Department of Transportation.
Austin, a Democrat, was elected in 2013 and is in his second term on council. He represents District 2, encompassing uptown in the northwest district of the city, including Third Ward and Fourth Ward. His resignation is effective July 16.
Austin is one of council’s most liberal members, and was a champion for expanded legal protections for the LGBT community and building the Gold Line streetcar.
He had previously said he wouldn’t be running for reelection this fall.
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Under state law, the City Council will appoint a replacement for the rest of Austin’s term. The law requires the person to be from the same political party as Austin.
“While it’s bittersweet to see my time on the council come to an end, I’m excited to serve our state and continue my life’s dream of public service,” Austin said in a statement. “This is a great opportunity for me to use everything I’ve learned serving on council, while continuing to always serve as a resource for Charlotte.”
This will be the second time in the last year council members have appointed someone to finish an unexpired term. In January, they appointed Dimple Ajmera to finish the term of District 5 member John Autry, who is now in the N.C. House.
In the past, council members have asked that people interested in filling the job not run for the same seat in the next election. It’s likely they do so again.
The 2018 City Council is set for significant change. There will be new council members representing Districts 2 and 5, as well as District 6, where Republican Kenny Smith has said he is running for mayor.
Of the council’s four at-large seats, one is held by Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles, who is challenging Jennifer Roberts in the Democratic primary for mayor.
Austin also said he plans to spend time with the newly appointed District 2 representative to ensure a smooth transition.
“Al brings the department a wealth of experience, including his work at Johnson C. Smith University and with the Charlotte City Council,” N.C. Department of Transportation Chief Deputy Secretary David Howard, a former Charlotte City Council member, said in a statement. “He will be a key team member for us, partnering with our colleges and universities, as well as other state agencies, to advance our initiatives.”
Austin currently serves as the director of development for the Division of Institutional Advancement at Johnson C. Smith University. Austin also served as the executive director of the McCrorey Family YMCA from 2009 until 2012.
He is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, where he received bachelor of sciences degrees in sociology and criminal justice administration.