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Charlotte City Council Begins Process To Replace James Mitchell

City of Charlotte
Mayor Vi Lyles speaks during Tuesday's City Council meeting. Council members voted to start the replacement process for former at-large member James Mitchell.

The Charlotte City Council is now accepting applications to replace former at-large member James Mitchell, who resigned last week because of a conflict over his new job as part-owner of a construction company that does business with the city.

City residents can apply through Jan. 26 for the seat. The person must be a registered Democrat and be at least 21.

The timeline – approved by council last night – calls for the members to pick Mitchell’s replacement on Feb. 1. City Attorney Patrick Baker says he created a shortened application process because the council has a full plate.

“The timeline that you have here is really as quickly as we could make this happen,” Baker said. “And given that we’re at the start of the budget process and with a number of big important matters that we’re dealing with right now we felt like it would be best to at least give you the opportunity to get someone on board as quickly as possible.”

The city may hold a public forum for people who have applied on Jan. 29.

In the past, council members have asked people seeking an appointment to pledge not to run for that seat in the next election. Baker told the council they are allowed to ask applicants that question, but they can’t make it a formal part of the selection process.

Council members Braxton Winston and Dimple Ajmera objected to the informal criteria that the person appointed not run for the seat.

Ajmera was appointed to fill now-state Rep. John Autry’s seat in 2017. Ajmera did not run for that District 5 seat, but she instead ran for an at-large seat later that year.

Mitchell is a 25% owner in R.J. Leeper Construction. State law says that a municipality can’t do business with a company if an elected official owns more than a 10% share in the firm.

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Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.