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Council Vote Will Show Support - Or Not - For RNC Bid

The Charlotte City Council is expected to take a vote Monday afternoon that would show support for the city's bid to host the Republican National Convention in 2020. 

The Republican National Committee meets in Austin this week to pick a host city. Only Charlotte and Las Vegas are bidding, and Charlotte reportedly is the favorite.  It's an idea that Mayor Vi Lyles has been promoting for months, both for its economic benefits and as a show of the city's openness to diversity.

But some Democratic council members and leaders of local Democratic groups think the city shouldn't host the big event. They point to what they say are divisive statements and policies by President Donald Trump and Republicans. Council member Justin Harlow says he'll vote no.

"To have our city open our arms to that and have this man and his supporters be in our taxpayer-funded arena and convention center and championing that type of rhetoric I think would be inappropriate," he said.

Other council members wonder if the convention will bring the economic benefits touted by Mayor Lyles.

Council member Dimple Ajmera announced Friday that after reviewing the contracts, she won't support the bid. "This is not a political stance, it's an economic one, because taxpayers will be on the hook for the potential liability, unknown risk and exposure," she told WFAE.  

But later Friday, several other council members disputed her statement.

The city did release summaries of the agreements Sunday night. One is between the city, the county, the Republican National Committee, the host committee and the CRVA. Among other things, it says the host committee will reimburse the city for any expenses not covered by a $50 million grant. 

The other is an agreement to let the convention use the Hornets arena.  If the council votes to authorize the contracts, that approval would be contingent on the RNC choosing Charlotte later this week. 

City officials say the contracts won't be made public until after the party announces its host city pick.  

Besides Ajmera and Harlow, council member Lawana Mayfield also says she won't support the contract.  Five other council members - including both Republican members - are in favor, while the rest are undecided or haven't declared their intentions. 

Monday's special meeting begins at 2 p.m., two hours before the council's regular zoning meeting. Citizens will have a chance to comment - one minute each instead of the usual three minutes at city council meetings.  Then the council is expected to vote whether to authorize the city manager to finalize an agreement with the Republican Party.

Meanwhile, Democratic Party-aligned groups say they'll hold a press conference at 1 p.m. outside the Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center, to oppose the city's RNC bid. 


July 15, 2018, Charlotte City Council special meeting actions and summaries of agreements to be considered (PDF)