With the city of Charlotte facing tough questions about everything from residential segregation to transportation needs, all 11 seats on the Charlotte City Council are on the ballot.
The council is losing two strong at-large representatives in incumbents Michael Barnes and David Howard, who surrendered their seats to launch unsuccessful mayoral bids. That means the election will bring at least two new at-large representatives to the council.
Fortunately, solid choices await voters who must fill the four at-large seats.
We recommend incumbent Democrats Claire Fallon and Vi Lyles, along with newcomer Julie Eiselt, also a Democrat, and newcomer John K. Powell Jr., a Republican.
Former assistant city manager Vi Lyles’ expertise in city policies and processes warrants a second term. She was the top vote-getter in a crowded 12-person Democratic primary field. Should she repeat that performance in the general election, she would be in position to become the next mayor pro tem, a largely ceremonial role that usually goes to the highest vote-getter. We welcome her forecast of a more assertive leadership approach from her in a second term.
Fallon, seeking her third term on the council, brings a feisty, independent spirit that helps keep the overwhelmingly Democratic majority from marching blindly in lockstep. She wants to keep pushing for more police on the streets, two new police command divisions and a new ladder company in the northern part of the city.
Eiselt, a newcomer with a background in international finance, shows impressive insight when it comes to navigating budgets and exploring financial models – useful skills at a time when state and federal money for city infrastructure projects is shrinking.
She has shown a long-standing interest in civic affairs, both in working with local philanthropic groups and as a founder of Neighbors for a Safer Charlotte, an advocacy group that pushed for criminal justice reforms.
Powell, a real estate appraiser, could add a valuable Republican voice to the council at a time when the city needs better relations with GOP leaders in Raleigh. A member of the N.C. GOP’s 9th Congressional District Executive Committee, he cites ties to Sen. Bob Rucho and Rep. Bill Brawley, influential Republican lawmakers from Matthews. Powell, who lives in south Charlotte, has also built strong ties in heavily Democratic west Charlotte, winning the endorsement of the Black Political Caucus.
Former council member James “Smuggie” Mitchell also presents a viable option for voters. We would like to see Pablo Carvajal, an enthusiastic young first-time candidate, continue seeking opportunities to serve the community.