CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte City Council member James Mitchell said Tuesday he will likely run for mayor, giving Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Cannon a fight in the Democratic primary.

Mitchell, who represents District 2 in northeast Charlotte, had previously said he would run for one of four at-large seats and had strongly denied any interest in running for mayor as recently as two weeks ago.

But Mitchell known by his nickname Smuggie said he is considering it because of people asking him to run.

There has been tremendous support from the grass roots and the business community, Mitchell said. He added that he has the fire in my belly to become mayor.

Mitchell was first elected to the City Council in 1999 and is serving his sixth term. He served as president of the National League of Cities in 2011, and most recently took the lead among council members in negotiating with the Carolina Panthers to secure a deal to keep the team in Charlotte.

The City Council approved in April an agreement that will pay the team $87.5 million in exchange for a six-year hard tether to keep the team playing at Bank of America Stadium.

In his latest term, Mitchell has been a strong ally of Mayor Anthony Foxx.

Mitchell is a strong supporter of building a streetcar through central Charlotte, which is eventually slated to operate on Beatties Ford Road, which is in Mitchell s district. Cannon voted against building the streetcar last year, but he voted for the project in June after City Manager Ron Carlee created a plan to pay for the streetcar without using property taxes.

Mitchell also was a strong supporter of the city creating a new program to help women and minority-owned businesses get more city contracts. The new program which was approved by City Council this year will have race and gender-specific hiring targets.

Foxx has been nominated by President Barack Obama to be the U.S. secretary of transportation. He is expected to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, in a vote that could come this week.

Foxx has said he will resign as mayor after he is sworn in as transportation secretary. The council would then appoint an interim mayor, who must be a Democrat.

Lucille Puckett, a Democrat, has also announced she is running for mayor.

On the Republican side, only one candidate has announced he will run: former council member Edwin Peacock.

Filing for candidates opens July 5 and ends July 19.

The party primaries are Sept. 10.

Read or Share this story: