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    Charlotte City Council at-large candidates are all Democrats. Will that ever change?

    By Emma Withrow,


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. ( QUEEN CITY NEWS ) — There’s less than three weeks until the Charlotte City Council primary election, and candidates are gearing up for their final sprint.

    But this year’s lineup looks a bit different than the last few election cycles. Out of the seven candidates running for at-large positions, not a single one is a Republican.

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    It’s been more than a decade since Charlotte had a Republican mayor, when Pat McCrory held the office for 14 years. Since, only Democrats have won the coveted seat.

    Democrats have also dominated the majority of the council seats for years, with only two Republicans, Tariq Bokhari and Ed Driggs, maintaining their seats in District 6 and 7. Charlotte seems to get bluer by the year, but is there still hope for Republicans in the Queen City? David Merrill, who ran for a Charlotte at-large seat last summer, thinks there is.

    “We’re seeing more and more people in the city complaining about the far-left progressive policies,” Merrill said. “So I think as we become more and more left-leaning and progressive as a city, people are going to start to rebound from that and come a little bit more towards the center and start moving to the right again.”

    In last summer’s election, four of the eight at-large candidates were Republicans, with Democrats seeping the four spots. When asked why none were running for at-large seats this year, Merrill says it was an intentional choice, not just a lack of ambition.

    “It was a bit of a strategic decision,” he described. “And it’s the first of a series of steps in our strategic plan for how we want to try to retake control of the city over the next coming years. So this year, our biggest focus is going to be on our municipal candidates that are running in districts.”

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    As for the Democrats, Dimple Ajmera, James “Smuggie” Mitchell, Victoria Watlington and Lawana Slack-Mayfield are the incumbents in the at-large race. Mayfield, who’s been on and off council for years, is feeling confident in her campaign particularly due to her community involvement.

    “I was a community organizer for more than 20 years before I ever ran for office,” Mayfield said. “I never forgot that.”

    Mayfield is known for going against the grain on council, and is not afraid to speak up. As for her thoughts on the lack of competition from Republicans? She’s not entirely surprised.

    “I think the challenge in Charlotte is that people feel like, Republicans won’t have a chance,” she said. “But I honestly believe that if you have a platform for the community, people will come out and support you. But we have to get away from the idea of running on the Democratic ticket, but still bring in very conservative Republican views.”

    Charlene Henderson, another Democratic candidate vying for a place on council, thinks partisan politics need to take a back seat, and the community needs to come first.

    “The city wants accountability,” Henderson said. “The city wants ethics back at the board. The city wants our community to be transparent. We want all of these things, especially having policy that represents these things. So we cannot continuously vote one way in the public but also vote another way behind the scenes.”

    Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

    For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to Queen City News.

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