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Local & State

Election Day upshot: Incumbents have support, sales tax doesn't
Local voters send message through ballots
Published Thursday, November 7, 2019 9:50 pm
by Herbert L. White | The Charlotte Post

Charlotte voters returned incumbent representatives to city council while sending a sales tax referendum to defeat.

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Charlotte voters like their city council incumbents enough to give them two more years. Another sales tax, though, was way less popular.

Those are the takeaways from Tuesday’s municipal election, in which Democrats swept to victory in mayoral and council races as well as a sales tax referendum to fund the arts, parks and teachers.

Here’s the message voters sent through their ballots:

• Bundling doesn’t always work. Voters rejected a referendum that would fund teacher stipends, Mecklenburg parks and the Arts & Science Council through a quarter-cent sales tax. It was the second time in five years such an initiative was sent to defeat.

Supporters took the loss not as rejection of arts, which was the focus of opponents, but the presentation as an arts-heavy referendum. Voters shot down the initiative by 57.5% to 42.5%.

“While we are clearly disappointed by the outcome of the referendum … one thing was made clear in conversations with those who were voting against the tax increase: it wasn’t a negative reflection on the importance of the arts,” Mint Museum President and CEO Todd Herman emailed supporters. “They appreciate and value the arts, and many have enjoyed our programs. The support is there, we need to work out the right funding model. This, too, is an important building block as we create a strategy that allows us to reach our goals for increasing equity, inclusion, and quality of life for Charlotte.”

• Mayor Vi Lyles is unbeatable.

The incumbent Democrat earned her second term with nearly 78% of the vote. Lyles, who is Charlotte’s first black woman mayor, wasn’t penalized for her role in leading City Council’s vote to host the Republican National Convention. Her popularity in a Democratic-leaning city was unwavering in the party primary and certainly in the general election against opposition that was primarily unknown to voters.

• Council remains firmly in Democratic hands. Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt, Braxton Winston, James Mitchell and Dimple Ajmera swept the four at-large seats with at least 20% of the vote. The lone Republican, Joshua Richardson, managed 11.5%. Malcolm Graham, a former District 4 representative, and newcomer Renee Perkins Johnson easily won races in districts 2 and 4. The lone Republican on the 11-person council is District 6 incumbent Tariq Scott Bokhari, who beat Gina Navarrete 58.9%-41.1%.


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