Mayor Vi Lyles wins a second term; council incumbents re-elected

Charlotte voters Tuesday easily re-elected Mayor Vi Lyles, the City Council’s four at-large Democrats and District 6 Republican Tariq Bokhari.

Lyles won 77% of the vote over Republican candidate David Michael Rice, becoming the first mayor since 2011 to land a second term in office, with all precincts reporting.

In District 6, Bokhari won 59% of the vote to defeat Democratic candidate Gina Navarrete in the city’s most competitive race.

In the at-large City Council race, incumbent Democrats Julie Eiselt, James Mitchell, Braxton Winston and Dimple Ajmera handily won their re-election bids.

Eiselt, the mayor pro tem, led the at-large field with 24% of the vote. Winston and Mitchell were at 22% and Ajmera was at 20%. Republican challenger Joshua Richardson trailed with 11%.

In District 6, Bokhari’s campaign had raised more than $80,000 since January. His advertising blitz, which last week released 10 billboards opposing the quarter-percent sales tax increase, continued heavily on Tuesday with radio spots.

Bokhari is one of only two Republicans on the council, with Ed Driggs of District 7. Driggs, along with Democrats Larken Egleston of District 1, and Matt Newton of District 5, were all effectively re-elected in September and didn’t face opposition Tuesday.

  • In the open District 2 race, former Democratic state senator Malcolm Graham, a former council member, won with 85% over Republican candidate Jacob Robinson.
  • In the open District 3 race, Democrat Victoria Watlington, an engineer and a member of the Charlotte Civil Service Board, effectively won the seat in September. No Republican filed to run in the district, where incumbent LaWana Mayfield opted to run in the at-large race and lost in the primary.
  • In the open District 4 race, Democrat Renee Perkins Johnson — who beat out five challengers in the primary bid — had 80% of the vote over Republican Brandon Pierce.

At the Christ Church Charlotte polling site in Myers Park, Tom Ainsworth — a self-proclaimed “staunch Democrat” — said he voted to re-elect Lyles as mayor.

“I think she’s done a pretty good job so far,” Ainsworth, 66, said. “I usually give someone the benefit of the doubt after a first term. She deserved a second chance.”

In her campaign, Lyles pledged to focus on public safety as Charlotte’s homicide total has risen above 90. She’s also emphasized her transportation initiatives, which include “rebuilding” the city’s bus system and securing funding to expand light rail.

But during her tenure, Lyles has drawn criticism from some Democrats over Charlotte’s selection as the host city for the Republican National Convention next August. After a President Donald Trump rally last July in Greenville, N.C., she emphasized Charlotte is “no place for racist or xenophobic hate speech.”