N.C. Sen. Dan Clodfelter named Charlotte mayor

sharrison@charlotteobserver.comApril 7, 2014 

State Sen. Dan Clodfelter was named mayor of Charlotte Monday night, replacing Patrick Cannon, who resigned nearly two weeks ago after his arrest on federal corruption charges.

After two weeks of jockeying among City Council members, Clodfelter, a state senator since 1999, was chosen over former City Council member James “Smuggie” Mitchell. The city plans a small swearing-in ceremony Wednesday, when Clodfelter will become the city’s fourth mayor since the spring of 2013.

Clodfelter, a Democrat and former City Council member, has served in the General Assembly since 1999. He did not attend the council meeting, but came to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center just before 7 p.m., after the council appointed him.

He said his highest priority for the city is “stability.”

“We will move on from this,” Clodfelter said about Cannon’s arrest. He added that the city’s shock over the corruption allegations is a positive, in that the city is not jaded.

“It’s a good thing this hurt so bad,” he said, surrounded by members of the news media.

Council members were deadlocked for more than a week on who should be the city’s next mayor.

Some council members lobbied for Mitchell, who challenged Cannon last fall in the Democratic mayoral primary.

Mitchell’s support stemmed in part from his willingness to challenge Cannon, whom some Democrats felt wouldn’t be a good leader. Clodfelter reportedly had considered running but decided against it.

The council’s first vote was on whether to support Mitchell. That motion was defeated 7-4. Council members David Howard, LaWana Mayfield, John Autry and Al Austin – all Democrats – supported Mitchell.

The council then took a vote on whether to nominate Clodfelter. Ten council members voted in favor of Clodfelter. Mayfield did not vote.

At-large candidate Vi Lyles was one of the key swing votes in picking Clodfelter. After the meeting, she said his experience in Raleigh with issues such as the city’s fight to maintain control over Charlotte Douglas International Airport influenced her decision.

“We have a number of really tough issues that we have to address quickly,” she said.

Mayor Pro Tem Michael Barnes said Clodfelter told council members he would not run for the mayor’s office in the fall of 2015. The term expires in December 2015.

When asked whether he would run to keep the mayor’s job, Clodfelter said: “I have said I don’t have long-term plans to do this.”

Clodfelter said he will resign from the General Assembly Tuesday.

Mitchell attended the meeting and sat surrounded by supporters. Mayfield said she supported Mitchell because he ran against Cannon.

“Anyone had the opportunity to do so,” she said.

Some had urged council members to ask Raleigh for permission to hold a special election to pick the mayor. Barnes said he felt council members could do that. “We don’t need Raleigh to help us pick a mayor.”

After Mayor Anthony Foxx resigned to become U.S. secretary of transportation in July, council members appointed Patsy Kinsey to replace him. She served for five months, until Cannon was sworn in.

Gov. Pat McCrory issued a statement on Clodfelter’s appointment.

“Charlotte is a city that I served and love,” McCrory said. “I look forward to working with Dan, who I served with on city council. It’s time to restore the public’s trust by serving the city with the highest of ethical standards.”

Harrison: 704-358-5160

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