CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Voters hit the polls across Charlotte and Mecklenburg County to cast their vote for a variety of candidates, including the Queen City’s next mayor.
9:05 a.m. -- Mayor-elect Vi Lyles spoke at a press conference following Tuesday night's victory. She said she is hoping to use the mayoral position as a platform to help welcome visitors and newcomers to Charlotte.
"I want to be able to use the mayor's office not because I'm a black woman, but because of the change and the national perspective, I want to say 'Come to Charlotte. Look at who we are, know what we are trying to focus on and the economic opportunities for the people that live here,'" Lyles said.
9:30 p.m. -- Voters in Mecklenburg County approve a $922 million bond package for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. School officials said approval of the bond will allow CMS to relieve 20 schools of overcrowding and ultimately pay for 17 new schools in the district.
“We are very grateful to the citizens of Mecklenburg County for the support given to our kids,” said Dr. Clayton Wilcox, superintendent of CMS. “The approval of the bond request means we can begin improving schools and creating better opportunities for our students and teachers – and we’re ready to go to work.”
9:20 p.m. -- Kenny Smith announces that he called Vi Lyles and conceded the race for Charlotte Mayor. He addresses supporters at his watch party, thanking them for their backing throughout the campaign.
"Vi's been around for many years. She knows how the city operates," said Smith, who went on to say he believes Lyles will do a good job as Charlotte Mayor.
Lyles addresses her supporters, claiming victory in the race.
9:10 p.m. -- Over one-third of the precincts are reporting and Vi Lyles has accumulated 59.9-percent of the vote. Kenny Smith has gained ground, but trails by nearly 12,000 votes.
8:50 p.m. -- With 27 precincts reporting, Vi Lyles leads Kenny Smith 25,329-15,219. Lyles holds 62-percent of the vote at this point.
8:45 p.m. -- NBC Charlotte reporter Rad Berky projects Charlotte City Councilwoman LaWana Mayfield to defeat Daniel Herrera in the race for District 3's seat on the council. With 1 precinct reporting, Mayfield garnered 72 percent of the vote.
8:40 p.m. -- 7 of 168 precincts reported, with Lyles leading Smith 20,243 to 11,924. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School bond received a huge early lead, with nearly 73-percent of votes in favor of the bond.
School officials said approval of the bond will allow CMS to relieve 20 schools of overcrowding and ultimately pay for 17 new schools.
The bond would fund the creation of 10 entirely new schools, seven replacement schools and 12 renovation projects.
7:30 p.m. -- The NC State Board of Elections reported that Democrat Vi Lyles led Republican candidate Kenny Smith by a margin of about 8,400 votes. The majority of those early returns were likely attributed to early voting as no precincts were reporting at that time.
The most recent poll in the race for Charlotte's new mayor suggested it was a dead heat.
Both Kenny Smith, and Lyles, agree that the controversial bathroom bill and tangling with Raleigh need to be a thing of the past.
“We have spent the better part of two years the city government shouldn’t be involved in and they’ve divided," Smith said.
“We've got to build relationships with Raleigh and the Feds and we shouldn’t tackle controversial issues without having an understanding of what it means," Lyles said. "That’s the number one lesson learned from the non-discrimination ordinance.”
Beyond that, the candidates don’t agree on much.
Smith could be the first Republican since Pat McCrory left in 2009. Lyles would be the first African-American woman elected as Charlotte's mayor.
“It’s really about for me unifying the city around a common agenda, if you work here, you ought to be able to live here,” Lyles says.
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