Charlotte Has New Mayor After Bribery Scandal
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Charlotte's city council on Monday selected a lawyer and state legislator as mayor of North Carolina's largest city to replace Patrick Cannon, who resigned last month in a public corruption scandal.
City Council members picked state senator Dan Clodfelter to finish the two-year term Cannon only started in December. Cannon resigned less than two weeks ago after his arrest on federal corruption charges. Cannon faces charges of accepting more than $48,000 in bribes from FBI agents posing as businessmen who wanted to work with North Carolina's largest city.
Members of the majority-Democrat council had been deadlocked for more than a week on who should be the city's next mayor. Clodfelter was on the city council before being elected to the General Assembly in 1998. He is a Democrat like Cannon.
Clodfelter wasn't present for the council meeting but came to the city government center after he was appointed.
"We will move on from this," Clodfelter said about the scandal surrounding Cannon.
Asked whether he would run for re-election when his term is up, he told a group of reporters: "I have said I don't have long-term plans to do this."
Charlotte mayors have limited powers and are not expected to devote full-time attention to the largely ceremonial role.
Council member LaWana Mayfield said she backed another contender, former councilman James Mitchell, largely because he put himself to the test of voters by running in last fall's Democratic primary against Cannon. Clodfelter reportedly considered running but decided against it.
"I have a concern of what is the message that we're sending out by identifying someone that chose not to actually run," Mayfield said.
Mayor Pro Tem Michael Barnes said he backed Clodfelter because of "some of the issues we're dealing with and about to deal with might require another perspective."
The city is in a legal fight to keep its airport after Republican state legislators moved last year to shift control to a regional commission, a move lawmakers said was to protect a regional economic engine. Barnes also noted the city is struggling with what to do with coal ash storage pits. The city is trying to get the nation's largest electric company, Duke Energy, to move the toxic material out of unlined storage ponds on the banks of the lake that supplies Charlotte's drinking water.
Clodfelter, 63, is a Davidson College graduate who went to the University of Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship and earned a law degree from Yale University. His legal practice emphasizes advising companies on antitrust and unfair trade practices matters, including mergers and acquisitions, according to the website of Moore & Van Allen, the law and lobbying firm where former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory, a Republican, worked until days before he was sworn in as governor.
Before 2011, when fellow Democrats controlled the state Senate, Clodfelter was chairman of the influential tax-writing committee and specialized in complicated tax and finance issues.
"Sen. Clodfelter's character has never been questioned, and his unblemished reputation will serve the city of Charlotte well during this difficult time," state Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said in a prepared statement Monday.
Clodfelter will resign his Senate seat Tuesday is expected to be sworn in as mayor Wednesday, Barnes said. He will become the city's fourth mayor within a year, a turnover sparked when Anthony Foxx resigned last summer to become U.S. transportation secretary. Patsy Kinsey was the city's interim mayor between Foxx and Cannon.
Mecklenburg County Democratic activists will meet to choose a replacement to fill out the remainder of his Senate term. Gov. McCrory is obligated by law to appoint their choice.