First female African-American mayor elected for Charlotte

Winthrop student and relative of newly-elected mayor talks about her work in aunt’s campaign 

Vi Lyles, 66, is not only the first African-American female mayor of Charlotte, but she is the aunt of Winthrop student Whitney Taylor.

“It’s impactful,” Taylor said. “It’s the beginning of a trend … She has opened the doors, not just for herself, but for other women in the future. Not just for Charlotte, but on the national scene.”

Taylor helped her aunt with her campaign by being the director of interns and the senior communication intern. She said she managed interns, wrote press releases, did social media, designed and passed out ballot sheets and performed other responsibilities during the campaign.

“I also did canvassing, advocating for her, taking over for speeches and talk about her policies for her,” Taylor said.

Taylor said she will always support Lyles because “she is family.”

“We have always supported each other, and what role I will take depends on what Vi says. If she runs again, because she only has two years … then we’ll see what I will do.” Taylor said.

Lyles, a Democrat, defeated Republican Kenny Smith in the race with 58 percent of the votes over Smith’s 42 percent on Nov. 7. Voter turnout was 20 percent, according to the Charlotte Observer. She spent almost 30 years in Charlotte city government as the assistant city manager and budget director, according to her website.

“I’m trying to connect what government can do with you as an individual.

Whitney Taylor, a mass communication major, worked over the summer and part of her fall semester with her aunt Vi Lyles’ mayoral campaign.

That’s always what I wanted to accomplish, and that’s what I want to continue to do,” she said in a press conference following her victory.

To improve Charlotte during her mayoral term, Lyles proposed a plan during her campaign to help the growing city. The “Seven-Point Plan for a more Equitable Charlotte” includes more public housing, improved relations between the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police department and the community, increased minimum wage and a program to promote hiring of low-income residents.

Lyes said that she felt proud that we were able to communicate that message “that there is a shift in leadership.”

“I want to be able to use the mayor’s office, not because I’m a black woman, but just because of the change and the national perspective to say, ‘Come to Charlotte. Look at who we are and know what we are trying to focus on — economic opportunity for the people that live here,’” Lyles said.

Lyles will be inaugurated in December.

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