Braxton Winston elected interim mayor of Charlotte by city council; four sworn council members – WSOC TV

CHARLOTTE — Councilman Braxton Winston was chosen by his peers as interim mayor of Charlotte at the first meeting of Charlotte’s new city council on Tuesday night.

The council also swore in four council members; familiar faces Lawana Slack-Mayfield and James “Smudgie” Mitchell, and newcomers Marjorie Molina and Dante Anderson.

Winston’s election as mayor pro tem – by unanimous council vote – was the first official move for the new group and it was not without drama.

On Monday, Channel 9’s Jonathan Lowe and Joe Bruno heard there was support for the council to oppose the usual trend – electing the top voter in the council’s overall race as mayor pro tem – in favor of selection of a different board member.

The mayor pro tem fills important roles in the public and the private sector. In public, the mayor pro tem replaces the mayor in the event of the mayor’s absence. In private, the mayor pro tem serves as the de facto whip, finding out where council members stand on issues and whether there is support.

In the July elections, Dimple Ajmera got the most votes in the overall race and let it be known she wanted the job. She received a nomination from council member Molina, but declined the position.

“As the will of the voters was the usual procedure, I became interested in the work of the (mayor pro tem). But there comes a time when we have to decide whether to lead or help someone else lead with a unified voice,” Ajmera said after the appointment. “I have decided to help council member Winston become the next interim mayor of Charlotte.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Winston was identified as a leading candidate for the role with the backing of at least two Charlotte City Council members, a source close to the vote told Political Beat’s Joe Bruno.

It is only the second time that the person who received the most votes in the overall race has not been elected interim mayor. Ajmera edged out Winston by 706 votes in the fall election.

Community leaders including Harvey Gantt, Hugh McColl and Malcomb Coley released a letter backing Ajmera for the job.

In 2015, the Charlotte City Council endorsed Vi Lyles over Julie Eiselt for the position of interim mayor. Eiselt finished ahead of Lyles, but backed the current mayor for the job. This was Eiselt’s first term.

>>> At 11 p.m. on Channel 9, Political Beat’s Joe Bruno will have an interview with Winston and more reactions from the first meeting of the new board.

(WATCH BELOW: City Council set to swear in new members; leadership position remains in question)

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