CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Former state Sen. Dan Clodfelter took his post as the city’s newest mayor on Wednesday, bringing to an end a two-week drama that saw former Mayor Patrick Cannon’s resignation after being arrested on federal corruption and bribery charges and a city-wide discussion on the best steps for Charlotte to move forward.
Clodfelter had been chosen 10-1 by City Council on Monday, and he came to the government center on Wednesday with words to reassure the public.
Like many voters, Clodfelter said he had struggled to understand the prior two weeks’ events.
“This is a city that makes things happen. Things do not happen to us,” Clodfelter said in a short speech after taking his oath of office. “How did this happen?”
The shock of Cannon’s arrest was a good sign and “testament to the depth of integrity in this community,” he said.
“To be any less shaken by this…only then would we be justified in being worried about our body politic,” Clodfelter added.
Clodfelter said he would support City Council’s new effort to undertake a comprehensive, in-depth review of the city’s ethics policy.
He also said he would help guide Council as the city continues to grow, with an eye toward leadership, stability and trust.
“Never has there been a time when our state has looked to Charlotte for leadership than it does now,” he said, citing the city as a powerhouse for a new economy.
On matters like diversity, he said, Charlotte is a model, showing others “how to knit out of such diversity a sense of unity and purpose.”
Clodfelter’s oath of office was administered by state Sen. Fletcher Hartsell, a Republican who represents Cabarrus County. Fletcher and Clodfelter attended Davidson College together, where they were both members of Sigma Phi Epsilon.
The Rev. John Cleghorn, pastor of Caldwell Presbyterian Church, presided over both the opening and closing prayers for Clodfelter’s oath-of-office ceremony. In his opening prayer, Cleghorn called leaders to live up to Charlotte’s “long tradition of honest and good government,” though admitting the city’s legacy was given a “new dose of humility.”
Cleghorn cited the prophet Jeremiah, calling on leaders to “seek the welfare of the city” and to learn again “the meaning and power of the working for the common good.” Empathy, Cleghorn said, should replace apathy, as he called on “suburban areas and urban streets to unite with a sense of shared purpose and interdependence.”
On Clodfelter, Cleghorn described the leader as having “uncommon intelligence,” “unwavering integrity,” “untiring energy” and “undying devotion to public service.”
Clodfelter had served on City Council from 1987-1993. In 1998, he was elected to the North Carolina Senate. There, he was an ally to LGBT people and other minorities, co-sponsoring the 2009 School Violence Prevention Act and the landmark, but now-repealed Racial Justice Act. Clodfelter voted against the state’s anti-LGBT constitutional amendment and efforts to further restrict women’s access to healthcare and abortion-related services.
[Ed. Note — This story was updated on April 11, 2014, 8:18 a.m., to include further information on Clodfelter’s oath of office and Sen. Fletcher Hartsell.]