Politics & Government

Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter settles in, seeks to keep seat

Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter speaks to the audience prior to public comment on a proposed non-discrimination ordinance during a meeting of the Charlotte City Council at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center on Monday, March 2, 2015.
Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter speaks to the audience prior to public comment on a proposed non-discrimination ordinance during a meeting of the Charlotte City Council at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center on Monday, March 2, 2015. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

When Democrat Dan Clodfelter took over as Charlotte’s mayor last year, he wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

After 15 years in the N.C. Senate, he was walking into a job leading the state’s largest city, a city that had nearly doubled in size since he’d last sat on its City Council. Turns out, he liked what he found.

It’s a much richer city in every respect. It’s become a much more interesting place. And I enjoy that. It’s part of why I like the job.

Dan Clodfelter

“It’s a much richer city in every respect,” he said. “It’s become a much more interesting place. And I enjoy that. It’s part of why I like the job. I really enjoy sort of connecting those dots.”

Clodfelter, 65, was appointed last year to succeed Democrat Patrick Cannon, who resigned after his arrest on federal corruption charges. Now he’s running in the Sept. 15 primary.

Connecting the dots has always played to Clodfelter’s strength.

A Rhodes Scholar out of Davidson College, he studied law at Yale and returned to Charlotte to clerk for federal Judge James McMillan.

In the Senate, he was a policy wonk. He developed a reputation as someone who would rather get things done than get credit. When Democrats were in control until 2011, he thrived. He co-chaired the Finance Committee and had a hand in major tax and policy legislation. He was generally respected on both sides of the aisle.

Critics, including Democratic rival Michael Barnes, say Clodfelter went back on a promise to not run for the office if appointed. Incumbency is usually an advantage in elections.

But Clodfelter said he never made such a promise.

“I didn’t really know what to expect,” he says. “I said, ‘Let’s see how it goes after the end of the year.’”

I think a year’s time is not enough. But one more term would probably be as much as I want to do.

Dan Clodfelter, in December

At the end of the year he realized he liked it.

“I think a year’s time is not enough,” he said in December. “But one more term would probably be as much as I want to do.” Jim Morrill

Dan Clodfelter

Age: 65

Hometown: Thomasville.

Family: Wife; two adult children.

Education: Bachelor’s, Davidson College, 1972; bachelor's, Oxford University, 1974; law degree, Yale Law School, 1977.

Occupation: Attorney, Parker Poe.

Politics: Mayor, 2014-present: N.C. Senate, 1999-2014; City Council District 1, 1987-93.

Community service: Former chairman of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission.

Worth knowing: When Democrats contolled the 50-member Senate, he ranked as high as 4th in effectiveness. As co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, he had a lead role in most major legislation.

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