Four Republican candidates hope to flip voters in City Council At-Large race

CHARLOTTE — Five Republican candidates are asking voters for support as they vie to represent Charlotte as City Council At-Large representatives.

Kyle Luebke, David Merrill, Charlie Mulligan, Carrie Olinski and David Michael Rice are on the primary election ballot. None have elected experience in the city.

The top four at-large candidates will move on to the General Election.

This week, the Poltical Beat’s Joe Bruno sat down with four of the candidates -- Luebke, Merrill, Mulligan and Olinski -- for a conversation on their aspirations if elected to serve the city.

“I decided to get involved because I think that there are people whose voices are not being heard by our city council,” said Luebke, a local lawyer. “Our city council just doesn’t understand what it’s like in the real world for those people,”

A Republican candidate hasn’t been elected to represent Charlotte in the At-Large position since 2009.

“In Charlotte, we hear all the time that people are tired of constant culture war, you know, issues divide everybody up. What about the basics of good governance and in fixing things?” said Mulligan, an entrepreneur who co-founded a Charlotte tech startup. “So that’s the very much the approach that we’re taking is. Let’s start with our love for the city first, fix problems, and really just provide an option for people, when so many other things in our current government is really just, I say asleep at the wheel.”

Earlier this month, the Charlotte City Council unveiled its 2023 budget proposal. The four Republicans are the first candidates the Political Beat has spoken with who’ve been able to comment on the plan.

“The big thing that I look at the budget is I’m really happy to see the pay increase for city employees,” said Merrill, a salesman for a software company. “But I think a lot of those employees are going to see that as a thinly veiled bribe saying there’s an election coming up. There’s just catalyst of change coming with this large Republican slate that’s trying to change the status quo.”

In a city that leans heavy toward Democratic candidates, pulling unaffiliated, undecided or even Democrat voters across party lines is a focal point for the quartet.

“We really want to take this role of city council and bring it back to what it was initially is being it’s a public service,” Olinski, a physicians assistant, said. “This is not necessarily glorification of us, this is bringing it back to see how we can serve Charlotte, how can we serve the people of Charlotte.”

The Political Beat is interviewing all Charlotte City Council At-Large candidates ahead of the May 17 primary. Channel 9 is attempting to speak with the other candidate on the Republican ballot, David Michael Rice, ahead of election day.

>> In the video at the top of and inside this page, the Political Beat’s Joe Bruno sits down with four Republican candidates vying for at-large seats about their concerns for the city and what it will take to win come general election season.

(WATCH BELOW: 2022 Primary elections: Here’s where you can vote early in North Carolina)