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The Voice of the Black Community

Local & State

Younger, more diverse Charlotte City Council gets to work
Change with Lyles at mayor to representatives
 
Published Monday, December 11, 2017 10:00 am
by Ashley Mahoney

PHOTO | DANIEL COSTON
Charlotte City Council, which was sworn in Dec.. 4, held its first meeting Monday.

Public service is not a popularity contest.

Charlotte City Council members took office last week, and held their first council meeting tonight. While the class appears wildly popular at the inauguration, the honeymoon has ended, and their legacy will lie in how well they run the city, not in their social media following.

“You no longer have a private life,” at-large council member James Mitchell, who has been on the board for eight terms. “Quickly you become a public figure, and you really have to take that responsibility seriously. Everything you do now is under public scrutiny. The biggest thing for me was getting along with people. I thought I was a very friendly person, but I quickly learned my first term that people don’t like you regardless, and there’s nothing you can do about it. You have to serve them, even though they don’t like you.”

While Charlotte elected its first female black mayor in Vi Lyles, it also saw a decrease in female representation on the council from seven to three. However, like the previous term, the mayor and mayor pro tem (at-large representative Julie Eiselt) are women.

Five new members joined the council: At-large representative Braxton Winston, Larken Egleston of District 1, District 2 representative Justin Harlow, Matt Newton of District 5 and Tariq Bokhari of District 6. Bokhari and District 7 representative Ed Driggs are the council’s only Republicans.

“This class has a total of five new faces, but they have a total of six new people, because Dimple Ajmera goes from District 5 to At-large,” Mitchell said. “This is the first time you see the influx of new ideas with the millennials. Back in 1999, I was one of the youngest of the bunch. I was 37. This group, I think everybody is under 35.”

Charlotte may have elected change, but Mitchell warns the freshmen of overexertion, and potential burnout.

“You have to dedicate one day—don’t take any phone calls or anything, just spend time with your family,” Mitchell said. “Sunday was a natural for me. We would go to church, go out to eat, and take in a movie—Sunday was my family day. I didn’t do interviews. I would look at my city council agenda on Saturday, so that I would be ready for Monday. Sunday has been my family day since 2003.”

 

 

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