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African-Americans take the reins of leadership in North Carolina

African-Americans take the reins of leadership in North Carolina
December 07
10:11 2017

If the local elections of November 2017 in North Carolina will be remembered for anything in history, it will be for the number of African-Americans who were elected to positions of leadership in at least three cities, and the county commission of the state’s capital county.

Three of the four newly elected black officials were sworn-in Monday night in their respective cities and counties. Their victories are generally being seen as a significant step forward for African-Americans statewide.

If there is a perceived “star” in the group, it is Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles, the first African-American woman to lead the Queen City in it’s history.

“I want to be known as the best mayor, to create opportunity for all of us,” Mayor Lyles told a packed City Council chamber moments after she took the oath of office.

There’s little doubt that Lyles comes to the job prepared and ready. She’s spent the most of last 30 years working in the city’s budget office, also serving as an assistant budget manager. For the past several years Lyles has served on the council, where she became a voice for low-income neighborhoods seeking better economic opportunities.

“I’m anxious to serve as your instrument of change,” the new mayor told those gathered Monday evening.

In Kinston, not only did citizens in November vote to elect a new African-American mayor, but remarkably voted in an all-African-American City Council.

On Monday night, new Kinston Mayor Dontario Hardy was sworn-in by NC Associate Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley, along with the rest of the six-member Kinston City Council.

“I stand before you filled with great joy, and as a beneficiary of the vote of the people,” Mayor Hardy told yet another packed City Council room.

“I stand here today to say, as mayor, I am more than your leader. I’m your leader  with a servant’s heart,” Hardy, whose November upset of veteran, popular incumbent Mayor B. J. Murphy was a true surprise, added.

Hardy is the second black mayor in Kinston’s history. Johnnie Mosley was the first, serving two terms in the early 2000’s.

The third black NC mayor who was elected last November, Fayetteville City Councilman Mitch Colvin, will be sworn-in next council meeting. Monday night Colvin watched as his colleagues bid farewell to outgoing Mayor Nat Robertson, who gave keys to the city to council members he served with, and wished Colvin, who defeated him, well.

Mayor-elect Colvin, in turn, gave Mayor Robertson a key to the city.

“We have had our differences publicly and privately, but for the most part we knew our intentions were the same and that was what was in the best interest of the city,” Colin told Robertson, as the audience applauded.

Finally, a year ago she actually resigned from the Wake County of Commissioners, frustrated with the lack of board progress on issues she felt were important to the citizenry. A day later, supporters convinced  her to rescind her resignation.

Monday night, Wake Commissioner Jessica Holmes was unanimously elected by her colleagues as the new chairwoman of the board for the next year. Nominated by the outgoing chair, Sig Hutchinson, who will now serve as her vice chairman, Holmes becomes the youngest African-American woman ever to chair the Wake County board, and only the fourth to ever serve.

“Sometimes leaders lead from the front, and sometimes leaders lift up other leaders,” the Pender County native and UNC – Chapel Hill Law School alumna said. “I thank you for that opportunity today, to allow me to lead this board.”

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Cash Michaels

Cash Michaels

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