CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Tuesday’s primary in Charlotte presented a bittersweet victory for a city council candidate.
First time candidate Democratic Vi Lyles won one of the four coveted at-large spots in the primary. But her win was severely tempered after the loss of her husband John to a longtime battle with pancreatic cancer hours earlier.
“I think one of the ironies-- he got right up to primary night,” said campaign manager Mike Evans.
Evans said it was John who encouraged Vi to run for office. She had worked as the assistant city manager, but this was her first time running for office. Over the summer, she became a talented fundraiser, outpacing all other candidates.
“Imagine going to forums, going to meet and greets and then going home to take care of a sick husband. But she did it. And she did it with grace and style."
At home, Vi did a lot of her strategizing. Evans says John was a vital part of the campaign team, even as he was bedridden.
“She would come home from an event, and she would be tired and John wanted to stay up and talk two or three more hours to question her. What went on, how did go, how did you do,” Evans recounted.
Evans says the campaign was an important distraction for John.
“I think it was very important to him. I think that was one of the things that kept him going.”
John Lyles passed away during the day Tuesday as voters headed to the polls to cast ballots for Vi. He didn’t live to see the results come in showing his wife winning a spot in the general election. But Evans believes John willed himself to live just long enough.
“He got her through that race. And that was important.”