First African-American woman elected mayor of NC city


Vi Lyles (D) was elected mayor of North Carolina’s largest city, Charlotte, on Tuesday, earning her the designation of the first African-American woman to hold the seat.

In a cheerful Twitter post, Lyles declared, “We are victorious!” after most of Charlotte’s precincts reported she had 58 percent of the vote, compared to 41 percent for city councilman Kenny Smith.

“It’s an incredible honor to be elected mayor of Charlotte in such a historical election,” Lyles said in a news release. “As I’ve often said throughout my campaign, I can walk through any part of Charlotte, and I expect to be a mayor for all.”

Lyles has been employed by the local government for nearly 30 years, according to The Associated Press. After a debate with Smith last week, she was asked what a victory would mean.

“It would mean that I’d have the confidence of the over 7,000 employees that work in our city,” Lyles said. “You know, city employees sometimes get … bad reputations. I think by them seeing someone like me that’s willing to step up and serve, that’s going to bring everybody up.”

She continued, “The other thing I think about is, for the city, the mayor needs to be someone that’s optimistic and say we are going to do things, and that is going to make a difference because I think people … if you give them a goal, and you give them a way to get there, it’s going to be great.”

According to her biography on the city’s webpage, Lyles worked for the city of Charlotte as an analyst in the city’s budget department, then as the budget director. She was also assistant city manager for the city from 1996 to 2004, before serving on the city council beginning in 2013. She was chosen by her peers in December 2015 as mayor pro tem.

Also in North Carolina, Raleigh’s unaffiliated incumbent Nancy McFarlane won a fourth term as mayor of the state’s capital city, defeating her Democratic challenger Charles Francis in a runoff election.

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