Bokhari narrowly wins reelection; Ajmera finishes first in at-large race
Republican Charlotte City Council member Tariq Bokhari narrowly defeated Democrat Stephanie Hand Tuesday night, allowing Republicans to keep their two seats on City Council instead of the Democrats getting a 10-1 advantage.
Democrats easily won the four at-large seats, defeating Bokhari’s slate of GOP candidates. Republicans have not won a citywide race since 2009.
Since Charlotte went to single-member districts in the late 1970s, a Democrat has never won District 6 in south Charlotte.
Bokhari last won the seat easily in 2019 by 18 percentage points.
But on Tuesday night, he trailed after early voting to Hand, an ordained clergy in the United Methodist Church who is active in the city’s philanthropic community.
But as election day votes were tallied, Bokhari pulled ahead. But he only won with 51% to Hand’s 49%.
Bokhari said Hand was an excellent candidate — and that it’s getting harder for Republicans to win in Charlotte, an increasingly blue city.
“Obviously, there is probably a little bit of it, of a continuing demographic shift over the last decade-plus that is just slowly ticking away (at Republican’s chances),” he said.
In the last two years, Bokhari has clashed with Mayor Vi Lyles and has campaigned vigorously against the city’s plans to build more high-density housing and end zoning that only allows for single-family homes.
Bokhari said his bombastic nature may have hurt him.
“And as much as I hated doing it, I had to play a role of an opposition voice to that,” he said.
In the at-large race, Dimple Ajmera edged out fellow Democrat Braxton Winston to finish first.
Ajmera immigrated to the United States from India with her family when she was 16. She was appointed to the City Council to fill a vacant east Charlotte seat in 2017. She then won citywide seats when she ran later in 2017 and again in 2019.
On Tuesday night, she finished first, edging out fellow Democrat Braxton Winston.
“As someone who once struggled to speak English, and for someone who is an immigrant, I’m just so grateful for all of the opportunities that have been given to me,” Ajmera said. “I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would even serve in a public office.”
Finishing first could mean Ajmera is the next mayor pro tem. That’s a largely ceremonial role now held by Julie Eiselt, who did not run for reelection.
In addition to Ajmera and Winston, LaWana Mayfield and James “Smuggie” Mitchell won the other two citywide seats. They are both former council members.
Mayor Vi Lyles also easily won reelection.
This election was supposed to be held last November. But because of delays in getting population data from the U.S. Census, Charlotte postponed the election until 2022.
In the November 2019 election, nearly 124,000 people voted, or 17% of registered voters. That election also included countywide races.
On Tuesday, less than 73,000 people voted, or 12% of eligible voters.