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Charlotte elections: Democrats win big again, Republicans hoping to gain support

Democrats won big in the July 2022 city council election, but Republicans are still hoping to push their platform.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte residents voted for the city's leaders on Tuesday and will now wait to see what progress they bring to the city during this next term.

All seven districts voted for the incumbent councilmember that serves them and Vi Alexander Lyles retained her position as Charlotte mayor. 

The only changes to the city council will be two of the four city council at-large positions, which will be taken over by LaWana Slack-Mayfield and James Mitchell, both of whom previously served on the city council.

The election results leave Charlotte with a 5-2 Democrat majority in city district seats and a 4-0 Democrat majority in the at-large positions.

"At the end of the day, it's not what we say, but it's what we do that matters," said Dimple Ajmera, a democrat who will serve a third term as an at-large council member. "Our experience, leadership, proven track record, and leadership have resonated with the community."

Ajmera cited health care plans for city employees, raises for police officers, and a 2040 city plan as some of the best accomplishments she's seen the majority-democrat council pass during her time as a council member.

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Charlotte's growth is a big topic for the democrats for the next term. Ajmera states that over 100 people move to the city each day, which can cause challenges she says the city must address.

"[Charlotte is] the 15th largest city in the nation... the second fastest growing city in the nation," said Ajmera. "There are challenges in terms of our infrastructure, we got to keep up with our road widening projects, sidewalks, bike lanes, greenways, we got to make sure that our public transportation system is reliable and efficient and effective."

On the other side of the aisle, Mecklenburg County Republicans are doing their best to have their voices heard in the community despite being outnumbered in the city council.

The Mecklenburg County Republican Party says this was the biggest "get out the vote effort" they have ever had as they worked tirelessly to get people to vote in this election.

"We were out and talking to the voters, unaffiliated Democrats and Republicans trying to, first of all, get awareness that there was even an election on July 26," said Sarah Reidy-Jones, chair of the Mecklenburg County GOP. "We were out there just to get people to the polls to exercise some change for the City Council."

The unbalance in the council is an unhealthy problem for Charlotte, according to Reidy-Jones, and Republicans would like to see some changes in the way things are run.

"You have an unlimited checkbook, there are no balances, we discovered," said Reidy-Jones. "They didn't even know that CATS was being run by a third party. So anytime they kind of can do whatever they want, and have unilateral control, that's not healthy for the city."

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Reidy-Jones says Charlotte needs more safety in light of the abundance of murders recently seen in the city.

"We need to demand better answers to make sure that people just feel safe and that they feel that we have smart growth in Charlotte," said Reidy-Jones.

Despite their efforts, Republicans largely fell flat in the July 26 election. The mayoral race was decided by a whopping 37 percent, with the Republican candidate, Stephanie de Sarachaga-Bilbao, only taking 31 percent of the vote to Lyles's 68 percent.

In the at-large race, the closest Republican candidate, Kyle J. Luebke, fell around 14 thousand votes behind the fourth-place vote-getter. The four highest vote-getters in the race were elected.

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The only two Republican candidates who will be on the city council are Ed Driggs, District 7's representative who ran unopposed, and Tariq Scott Bokhari, District 5's representative who won by fewer than 400 votes.

These numbers are not alarming to the Mecklenburg GOP, who acknowledge that fewer than 20 percent of Charlotte residents are Republicans. However, they believe that they can attract unaffiliated voters to their party.

"We want to make sure that they know that their core values align with our core values," said Reidy-Jones. "We'll run government that way and bring it back to the city that was so popular to attract so many people here."

Even with their differences, both sides acknowledged they need to work together to advance Charlotte.

"We must put our differences aside to move our city forward and tackle and deliver on important promises," said Ajmera. "I look forward to working with our Republican colleagues in addressing very important and difficult issues that Charlotte is facing."

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