It was a good night for incumbents in Charlotte’s Democratic primary Tuesday, with no council members failing in their bids for reelection.
Races on the ballot included mayor, at-large City Council seats and four districts.
Much of the attention in the buildup to Election Day was in District 4, where incumbent Renee Perkins Johnson fended off two primary challengers in a heated race. Johnson defeated Wil Russell — who picked up some high profile endorsements, including from Mayor Vi Lyles — as well as Olivia Scott.
And in District 3, former City Councilman Warren Turner failed in his attempt to stage a political comeback when he lost to Tiawana Brown.
Turnout trended low in the election. Just 23,676 out of 482,577 eligible voters cast ballots in Charlotte. That’s 4.91%, according to the State Board of Elections. There were no Republican primaries on the ballot in Charlotte this year, so only registered Democrats and unaffiliated voters were eligible to participate in the election.
Johnson, Brown win races in districts 4 and 3
Johnson held a lead throughout the night in her quest to keep her University City-area seat. She had 52.3% of the vote with all precincts reporting in District 4..
“We weren’t successful but that’s okay,” Russell told supporters at about 9:30 p.m. during an election night event hosted by Lyles. “We still have a lot to give, and we’re not done yet. We got to keep working, keep fighting. I can’t wait to get back to the community and do some good things. Thank you all for your support.”
At the event, Lyles said she was “really pleased that (Russell) has done as well as he’s done.”
“We need more young people,” she said. “We need more people with a lot of expertise to participate in our governance. And so I will always try to promote people that do a great job that are willing to do it.”
Russell and Johnson traded barbs in the campaign over endorsements and ties to development.
No Republicans or third-party candidates filed to run in District 4. So, Johnson will go unchallenged in November’s general election.
In another closely watched race in west Charlotte’s District 3, Brown emerged victorious.
Turner tried to overcome past allegations of sexual harassment in his run against Brown and Melinda Lilly. Turner’s campaign also made allegations about Brown’s work with her nonprofit, which helps women who were formerly incarcerated. Brown, herself formerly incarcerated, fought back against those claims in an interview with Observer news partner WSOC. Current District 3 representative Victoria Watlington ran for an at-large council seat.
With 100% of precincts reporting, Brown had 60.1% of the vote to Turner’s 29.5%. Lilly finished with 10.4% of the vote.
Brown will face Republican James Harrison Bowers in November.
Mayor Vi Lyles wins big and could make history
Lyles beat Puckett by a margin of 85.4% to 14.6%.
“I’m very, very pleased that the voters continue to support me as mayor,” she said at about 8:30 p.m. at her election night event. “I think it just shows that we have more work to do, but we’re doing the work that they want to see happen.”
Lyles will now face Republican Misun Kim and Libertarian Rob Yates in November’s general election.
If reelected to a fourth term, Lyles would become one of Charlotte’s longest-tenured mayors in history.
Ajmera, incumbents win in at-large race
Incumbent Dimple Ajmera led the pack in the Democratic primary for at-large City Council seats.
At-large council members represent and are elected by the whole city rather than a single district. Voters could choose four candidates on their ballot.
Ajmera finished Tuesday with 21.7% of the vote, followed by fellow incumbents LaWana Slack-Mayfield and James “Smuggie” Mitchell, with 19.9% and 18.9% of the vote, respectively. Watlington rounded out the top four, with 17.9% of the vote. She was followed by Charlene Henderson El’s 12.9% and Ben Copeland’s 8.8%.
“I’m deeply grateful for the overwhelming support that we received in all sections of Charlotte,” Ajmera said in a statement. “I never take any vote for granted and I will continue to work to earn every vote going into the November election.”
Libertarian Steven J. DiFiore II will also be on the ballot for an at-large seat in the general election.
Graham, Molina hold steady in Districts 2 and 5
With 100% of precincts reporting, Graham led Gary Young II by a wide margin of 74.1% to 25.9%.
In east Charlotte’s District 5, which has been in the spotlight as the home of the hotly debated Eastland Yards property, Molina topped Curtis Hayes, Jr. and Vinroy Reid with 53.3% of the vote. Hayes and Reid had 29.8% and 17% of the vote, respectively, with all precincts reporting.
No Republicans or third party candidates filed to run in districts 2 and 5. So, Graham and Molina will win another term.
There were no primaries in districts 1 and 7 — where Democratic incumbent Dante Anderson and Republican incumbent Ed Driggs drew no primary or general election challengers. District 6 Councilman Tariq Bokhari, a Republican, also had no primary challenger but will face Democrat Stephanie Hand in November — an election that’s expected to be competitive.