Young, Progressive Wave Rolls Over Charlotte City Council Elections

Vi Lyles becomes first African-American woman elected mayor of Charlotte

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It's official. Braxton Winston, Larken Egleston, Matt Newton and Justin Harlow, all Democrats under the age of 40, will join Dimple Ajmera on the city council to make it one of the youngest, most progressive councils the city has seen in decades.

Braxton Winston speaks to media after his at-large victory on Tuesday night. (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)
  • Braxton Winston speaks to media after his at-large victory on Tuesday night. (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)

While Ajmera has already been serving on council as a District 5 representative, she was one of four top vote getters for an at-large seat alongside Winston in last night's local elections. With 37-year-old Republican Tariq Scott Bokhari winning Kenny Smith's vacated seat in District 6, there will be six council members under 40 serving come January.

"As a group we’ll be able to collectively get more done than if just Braxton or just me or just Dimple got tossed on council," said Egleston last night from an election watch party celebrating Winston's campaign.

"We're not necessarily all going to always be of the same mindset — we certainly aren’t — but I think collectively we’re going to be looking at stuff from a generational perspective that hasn’t really been there before. So, yeah, I’m excited."

A group of about 35 people celebrated with Winston Tuesday night at VBGB, where he once bused tables. Winston ran a grassroots campaign that stemmed from his work during the Charlotte Uprising in September 2016, when his live-streams from the front lines of the protests gained him thousands of followers.

"The amount of support that I have personally received from my community over these last 14 months has really been indescribable," Winston said Tuesday night. "Every time we’ve taken a chance to step out there and be vulnerable and speak to what we see as the truth, even when it’s inconvenient, so many people are willing to carry on that conversation and continue to do that work, and that’s really humbling because so many people who are around me in this room don’t have to. But we are surrounded by people who just want to do the right thing for their city, their families and ultimately for the country."

Vi Lyles in her campaign office a week before the election.
  • Vi Lyles in her campaign office a week before the election.

History was also made in the mayoral election, as Democrat Vi Lyles won in a landslide against Republican Kenny Smith, making her the first African-American woman mayor elect in the city's history. The vote count never got close, and Lyles started her acceptance speech well before 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night, less than two hours since polls had closed.

Last night's winners, district by district: Larken Egleston (D), District 1; Justin Harlow (D), District 2; incumbent LaWana Mayfield (D), District 3; incumbent Gregg Phipps (D), District 4; Matt Newton (D), District 5; Tariq Scott Bokahri (R), District 6; and incumbent Ed Driggs (R), District 7.

At-large winners, in order of votes received: incumbent Julie Eiselt, Braxton Winston, incumbent James "Smuggie" Mitchell and Dimple Ajmera. All at-large winners are Democrats.

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