Tuesday’s general election proved successful for LGBT rights advocates in Charlotte, and showed some wins and some losses for gay candidates across North Carolina.
Charlotte Election Results
The big news of the night in Charlotte was the election of Jennifer Roberts as the city’s new mayor. She becomes the city’s first Democratic female mayor, as well as the first person to lead both city and county government’s.
Roberts has been a strong supporter of LGBT rights, coming out in favor of a complete non-discrimination ordinance. The issue came up in the final debate with challenger Edwin Peacock, and Roberts campaigning on Peacock framing the ordinance as a “minor issue.”
While the mayoral race stole most of the headlines, the City Council results are also important. Charlotte is in position to pass the LGBT non-discrimination ordinance with a much friendlier group of politicians now at the table.
Democratic candidates swept the at-large race, with Julie Eiselt, Vi Lyles, James “Smuggie” Mitchell and Claire Fallon all winning a seat. Each have told the Charlotte Observer that they will vote for the full ordinance, including protections for transgender individuals, if it comes up for a second vote. Fallon had previously showed wavering support, voting for a compromised package and saying she couldn’t vote to protect transgender people in restrooms.
Even without her support, the ordinance should pass. Only six votes are needed and the following Council members are expected to vote in favor: LaWana Mayfield, Al Austin, John Autry, Vi Lyles, James “Smuggie” Mitchell, Julie Eiselt and Patsy Kinsey.
Kinsey and Autry won running unopposed. Austin and Mayfield held off Republican challengers.
Beyond Charlotte: Gay candidates win and lose across state
Gay candidates were handed both wins and losses at the polls Tuesday. Overall, there will be fewer openly gay politicians in North Carolina.
In Charlotte, Austin and Mayfield held on to their City Council seats. Austin got over 79 percent of the vote against Justin Dunn, while Mayfield netted over 76 percent against Eric Wayne Netter.
In Carrboro, Lydia Lavelle won the mayoral race and Damon Seils will return to his post on the Board of Aldermen.
Jennifer Knox retained her Wake County Clerk of Court position.
Jillian Johnson won a seat on the Durham City Council and Robert Kellogg won a seat on the Gastonia City Council. They are the two new openly gay candidates elected, the only pickups of the night.
In Chapel Hill, Mark Kleinschmidt lost in his re-election bid for mayor to Pam Hemminger and Lee Storrow failed to retain his Town Council seat.
Franklinton Mayor Elic Senter was no re-elected, and in Asheville, Lindsey Simerly was not elected to the City Council.