Charlotte City Council delays vote to select new mayor

by: Jim Bradley Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Channel 9 was inside Monday night's Charlotte City Council meeting when leaders made a swift call not to name a replacement for Patrick Cannon.
 
Mayor pro tem Michael Barnes said they need time because they can't afford to get it wrong.
 
“While the mayor is a weak mayor in terms of our form of government, that person has the ability to sit in the bully pulpit and champion a lot of issues for Charlotte,” Barnes said.
 
Barnes said he doesn't want the job but some people on council do including council newcomer and former assistant city manager Vi Lyles.

VOTE: Who should be Charlotte's next mayor
 
“I believe in us and that's why I'm willing to do it,” Lyles said.
 
Other candidates include former Mecklenburg County Commission Chair Jennifer Roberts, former City Council member James Mitchell who fell to Cannon in last year's mayoral election and former councilman, now state Sen. Dan Clodfelter.
 
The city could hold a special election for the people to choose the next mayor and Stuart Algood started a petition for that option.
 
“I just wanted people to have a voice, have somewhere to go that wasn't just the council,” he said.
 
But the state Legislature would have to approve it.

Republican Ed Driggs and other members of the council believe that could take too much time.
 
“In the interest of restoring confidence and stability, a near-term appointment may be a better answer,” Driggs said. “Nobody believes that we need the state Legislature to tell us how to fill a vacancy on the city council.”
 
A public hearing could be scheduled for next week's meeting for people to give their input and to possibly hear from the candidates.

They said they will vote on a new mayor April 7.


Stakes high for choosing next mayor

The mayor's office in Charlotte has suddenly become a revolving door.
 
Charlotte is about to have our fourth mayor in less than a year and for the second time since July, City Council is appointing a new mayor.
 
But with the Pat Cannon corruption scandal draping city government like a wet blanket, the stakes this time are much higher.
 
When City Council appointed Patsy Kinsey mayor in July, it was because former Mayor Anthony Foxx had gone on to bigger and better things as the U.S. transportation secretary.
 
But the arrest and resignation of Cannon last week has left city leaders facing a much different, and some say greater challenge in picking his replacement.
 
 “Do they want basically a caretaker or do they want somebody that can conceivably move the city forward but is going to come in with their own agenda?” said Michael Bitzer, political expert.
 
Bitzer said in appointing a new mayor, City Council members will have to reassure Charlotte voters, taxpayers and business leaders.
 
Whoever is appointed this time will serve almost a full term because Cannon's resignation came just four months after he was elected.
 
That would be a huge advantage if he or she wants to run again.
 
But councilman John Autry said he won't ask for any assurances that a newly appointed mayor won't seek re-election in 2015.
 
“If the person who's appointed does a good job, proves themselves in that position, why would we want to cast them to the curb?” Autry said.

Bitzer said there's enormous pressure for the city to get it right.
 
“Getting the right person into that position who has the credibility, who has the integrity, who can start to make this transition past this is much more important than necessarily the timing,” Bitzer said.
 
While some council members disagree on how quickly they need to appoint a new mayor, everyone Channel 9 has spoken with agrees the pick needs to be the point man or point woman for getting the city to move beyond the Cannon corruption scandal.