Politics & Government

Quietly or not, lobbying continues for Charlotte mayor job

With Monday’s deadline looming, a handful of candidates continue to lobby Charlotte City Council members who are searching for a successor to former Mayor Patrick Cannon.

At least four candidates took different approaches, with two working quietly and two rallying supporters over the Internet or through the media.

Meanwhile, two local Republican lawmakers say it’s unlikely the GOP-controlled General Assembly will try to authorize the special November vote that some Republicans have sought.

On Monday council members are scheduled to replace Cannon, who resigned after he was arrested last week on federal corruption charges. State law requires the council to elect a Democrat, the same party as Cannon.

Democratic State Sen. Dan Clodfelter and former mayoral candidate James Mitchell, who are both former City Council members, have been quietly talking to council members.

Former Mecklenburg commissioners’ Chair Jennifer Roberts has watched supporters launch online petition drives. And Democratic Party official Frank Deaton announced his interest in a news release.

Some council incumbents, including Mayor Pro Tem Michael Barnes, Patsy Kinsey and Vi Lyles are also contenders. Kinsey served five months as mayor last year after Democrat Anthony Foxx left to be U.S. transportation secretary.

“Everything’s still pretty fluid,” Democratic council member Greg Phipps said Wednesday.

Council members who favor outside candidates appear split between Clodfelter and Mitchell.

“I’m leaning toward Clodfelter because I feel at this point … he’s probably the best person for it,” said Democrat Claire Fallon. “He’s got integrity. He’s got stature. He’s been on council. He knows what to do.”

Democrat LaWana Mayfield and David Howard favor Mitchell, who lost to Cannon in last fall’s primary.

“When a lot of people wouldn’t take Patrick on, he did, and I think he ought to get some credit for that,” said Howard.

Mitchell, who is running for Congress, has been calling and meeting with council members. “I have been in many conversations … about the position and the needs,” he said in a statement.

Clodfelter also has been contacting members.

“I’m intending to say to everybody, ‘If you’d like to talk to me, I’d like to chat,’ ” he said. “I don’t think this is a campaign. I want to be respectful of the council’s process and honor that process.”

Both Mitchell and Clodfelter say if council members insist, they’re willing to agree not to run for mayor in 2015. Some incumbents say that’s a condition of their support.

It was unclear how much support, if any, Roberts has on the council. An online petition has at least 750 signatures. A Facebook page has nearly 900 “likes.” Roberts could not be reached.

Deaton, a businessman and party official, said he put himself forward because “the city needs a fresh face.”

Republican Edwin Peacock III, who lost to Cannon in November, has called for a citywide election, a call repeated by some sign-waving citizens at last Monday’s council meeting. But that would take a change in state law and two GOP lawmakers, Sen. Bob Rucho and Rep. Bill Brawley of Matthews, don’t expect that to happen.

“The law’s clear. We’re not going to go in and mess with Charlotte on that,” Brawley said. “We don’t have a dog in this fight.”