CHARLOTTE, N.C. — City Council voted unanimously in a special meeting tonight to postpone filling former Mayor Patrick Cannon’s now-vacant seat until next Monday, April 7. A new mayor must be chosen soon following Cannon’s resignation last Wednesday, the same day he was arrested on federal corruption and bribery charges.
Council postponed the decision to give them more time to “thoughtfully consider” the options. Several leaders, both on and off City Council, have expressed interest in serving in the mayoral role.
Patsy Kinsey, who served temporarily as mayor last year, had said recently she would serve again if called upon to do so. She reiterated her willingness to serve with qnotes tonight. Kinsey, a Democrat who represents District 1, was popular across the city as she served out the remainder of former Mayor Anthony Foxx’s term last year. Foxx is currently the U.S. transportation secretary.
Though her term was short, Kinsey won over a great deal of the city, advocating for greater inclusion and outreach to a diversity of Charlotte’s minority communities, including immigrants and LGBT people. In August, she became the first Charlotte mayor to issue a proclamation for Charlotte Pride, the city’s annual LGBT Pride festival, and rode in the city’s first Pride parade in nearly 20 years. qnotes named her among our 2013 People of the Year.
As news of Cannon’s resignation spread through the city last week, several local LGBT residents took to Facebook to root for another Kinsey mayoral term.
“So who else wants Patsy Kinsey back?” read one comment.
“Draft Patsy Kinsey!” read another.
“I want Patsy back,” read yet another, among several more examples.
But, Kinsey said tonight the current situation is much different than that which made her mayor for six months in 2013.
“This is different. It’s going to be different going forward,” she said. “It’ll be a challenge for whoever is selected because we’ve got some fences to mend and some bridges to build and morale to lift.”
Kinsey said the news over the past week “hit particularly the staff on the 15th floor really hard.”
“It was a shock,” she said of Cannon’s arrest and charges.
Several other leaders have expressed interest in serving or have said they would be willing to serve if asked. Among them has been Michael Barnes, Council’s mayor pro tempore. Others include former Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jennifer Roberts, state Sen. Dan Clodfelter and former City Councilmember James Mitchell. Councilmembers David Howard and Vi Lyles might also be contending for the seat.
“Since this happened in our community last Thursday, it feels a little bit like losing a reputation you’ve earned after years of hard work,” Lyles said during the meeting. “It’s something we’re going to have to earn back. We have to really be thoughtful in our considerations.”
Some community members have asked that a special election be held to fill the seat. State law and Charlotte’s city charter make no room for such a move. Cannon’s replacement will be chosen by Council and must be a registered Democrat at least 21 years old and a resident of Charlotte. Some, like last year’s Republican mayoral candidate Edwin Peacock, have called for a temporary mayoral replacement and a new election to be held this November. Doing so would take a special act of the legislature.
“We have all gotten dozens and dozens and dozens of emails and phone calls from people about what they want to see happen,” Barnes said after the meeting. “We’re all listening to it. We’re all open to it and we just want to arrive at a good solution.”