Early vote has Dems comfortably leading all four at-large City Council seats

City Council at-large candidate Dimple Ajmera greets voters outside the Oasis Shrine Temple on Doug Mayes Place early Tuesday morning.
City Council at-large candidate Dimple Ajmera greets voters outside the Oasis Shrine Temple on Doug Mayes Place early Tuesday morning. dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

The Democratic party is holding all four City Council at-large seats, based on early voting results released after polls closed at 7:30 p.m.

Incumbent Julie Eiselt is in first place, based on early voting. James "Smuggie" Mitchell is in second and newcomer Braxton Winston is in third. Dimple Ajmera, who was appointed to a council seat earlier this year to replace John Autry, is in fourth.

After the Democrats, Republican John Powell is in fifth place. But he’s far behind Ajmera based on the early voting.

Powell has 10,167 to Ajmera’s 16,469 votes.

The results could change throughout the night as election-day voting results are counted.

Democrats have had a 9-2 majority on council since 2011.

This is Powell's second time running. Two years ago he finished fifth, losing the fourth at-large seat to Mitchell by just 248 votes.

Parker Cains, the other Republican endorsed by the county party, is in sixth place.

The at-large candidate who finishes first is often in line to become mayor pro tem, a largely ceremonial role. But being mayor pro tem can be a springboard to an eventual run for mayor. Vi Lyles, the Democratic mayoral candidate, was named mayor pro tem two years ago.

When the new council is sworn in in December, it will look radically different from the current council.

Of the seven district seats, four will have a new member.

In District 1, Democrat Larken Egleston defeated Patsy Kinsey in the Democratic primary. In District 5, Matt Newton defeated Darell Bonapart in October in a run-off election for the Democratic primary. And in District 2, Democrat Justin Harlow is heavily favored to win against Republican challenger Pete Givens.

Al Austin, who won the seat two years ago, stepped down earlier this year to take a job with the N.C. Department of Transportation.

In District 6, Republican Kenny Smith has vacated the seat to run for mayor. Republican Tariq Bokhari is favored to win his seat against Democratic and Libertarian challengers.

The council could change in more ways than with new faces.

Winston, who is in third place based on early voting, is a steadfast critic of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police. He became a community leader during the Keith Scott protests last year.

Newton, who has already won the District 5 seat, has also been a CMPD critic and has pushed for changes to the Citizens Review Board, which investigates allegations of police misconduct.

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs