Politics & Government

Dan Clodfelter signals decision to run for Charlotte mayor

Saying “one more term might be about right,” Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter on Tuesday formally signaled his plans to run for election next year.

Clodfelter filed a preliminary document with the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections. Though filing for office doesn’t start until July, Tuesday’s document lays the legal groundwork for a campaign committee.

His decision comes despite the fact that some City Council members say he assured them he wouldn’t run when they appointed him to the position in April after former Mayor Patrick Cannon was arrested on federal bribery charges.

Clodfelter, 64, said Tuesday’s move marks a “quasi-official” start to a campaign.

“I’m sort of still taking soundings, but the feedback is pretty positive,” he told the Observer.

Clodfelter’s entry could create a crowded Democratic field in the Sept. 15 primary.

Jennifer Roberts, the former chair of the Mecklenburg County commissioners, already has announced plans to run. Council members Michael Barnes, David Howard and Vi Lyles are all considering it.

Howard has formed a committee to raise money. Barnes said he’ll make a decision in early January. In an increasingly Democratic city, the winner of the primary will be a strong favorite in the November general election.

After Cannon’s March resignation, some council members wanted assurances that the person they appointed would not seek a full term in 2015. Barnes has said Clodfelter gave members that assurance. He was appointed mayor by the City Council and stepped down from the state Senate in April.

“The understanding was that they (the candidates) would not run, and I think they all understood that,” he said Tuesday.

Howard said Barnes made it clear to Clodfelter that such an assurance was needed to get the votes necessary to be appointed.

“The point is not to give incumbency away,” Howard said. “So, no, I don’t think that’s fair.”

But Clodfelter said he always left the door open to a 2015 campaign.

“I told them that if the council wanted that commitment, I would consider making it,” he said Tuesday. “There wasn’t complete agreement on the council on that point. I had some who told me not to make the commitment.

“I also said at the time even if I did make the commitment I might want to revisit it if this goes pretty well.”

Clodfelter’s decision should come as no surprise. He has dropped hints for months.

In August, he told a business group that “maybe 18 months is not enough.” Not only had he gotten a good response to his time in office, he said, but he enjoyed it.

“That causes me to think maybe we ought to re-up,” he told the luncheon of the Hood Hargett Breakfast Club.

Tuesday’s filing of a “statement of organization” will allow Clodfelter to transfer his Senate campaign account to a local campaign fund. He had nearly $42,000 in that account at the end of September.

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