There may be no Charlotte voters as important as the relative few who participate in municipal primary elections.
With turnout historically weak and city demographics tilted toward Democrats, primary voters are often not only choosing their party’s nominees, but the eventual November winners.
But no matter your party, today’s election is important, with races for mayor and city council on the ballot. We interviewed candidates in each race and made our recommendations. Here’s a recap:
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In a deep and diverse Democratic field, David Howard stands out. The current at-large city councilman gets things done thanks to a keen grasp of policy and collegiality with members of both parties. Howard also is the one candidate who’s not only looking at issues facing Charlotte now, such as income inequality, but is actively thinking and leading conversations about what our city should become.
Republican Edwin Peacock gives his party its best chance of beating a Democrat in November. The former city councilman is a fiscal conservative but social moderate, and he has the experience and savvy in city government that would allow him to work with a Democrat-heavy council.
City Council At-large
With two at-large City Council members – Howard and Michael Barnes – running for mayor, Democrats across Charlotte flocked to file for incumbent-free opportunities on the council. There are 12 candidates in the primary. Voters can choose four.
Julie Eiselt is the kind of person voters should want in office. She blends experience in international finance with a record of volunteering, and her eloquence and vision would make her a valuable contributor to the council.
Billy Maddalon, who served an interim stint on the council in 2013, would brings an inclusive, non-confrontational yet powerful leadership style. He’s a successful businessman who also has a keen understanding of the issues surrounding poverty and economic mobility.
Two-term incumbent Claire Fallon brings value with her direct, independent approach to issues facing Charlotte. Her bluntness can irritate some, but every governmental body can use of a pinch of it.
Vi Lyles relegated herself to the background in her first term on council, but she is regarded as a good listener and strategic thinker. We hope the former city budget manager and assistant city manager will assert her leadership more forcefully in a second term.
Republicans do not have an at-large City Council primary. All three candidates advance to the general election.
City Council Districts
All seven district seats on the council are on the ballot, but only three incumbents face challengers in the Sept. 15 primary.
Al Austin has been a solid but quiet representative for District 2. He’s a superior choice in his race.
LaWana Mayfield has been a forceful and energetic advocate for District 3. She’s active in defending the interests of her constituents.
John Autry has been kept busy with the east side’s redevelopment struggles in District 5. He’s the best choice to push the district’s interests forward.