If there was one slightly sour note at Dan Clodfelter's coronation Monday, it was Charlotte City Council member LaWana Mayfield veering from the feel-good script set out for the new mayor's selection.
The script: Two motions would be made - one nominating Clodfelter and another nominating former council member James Mitchell, who lost to now-ex-mayor Patrick Cannon in the Democratic primary last year. The council's four Mitchell supporters would then get an opportunity to be heard, the Mitchell motion would fail, and the council would unite in a vote behind Clodfelter.
All of which happened, sort of. When the Mitchell motion failed, Mayor pro tem Michael Barnes asked for the yes votes for Clodfelter. Ten council members raised their hands. Barnes, slightly rattled, gave Mayfield some extra time, then called the vote without Mayfield getting a chance to raise her hand in dissent.
So technically, Clodfelter was appointed mayor with a 10-0 vote. Said Mayfield this morning: "It was 10 to 1."
Why? "I have concerns with the process," she said. Specifically, she's unhappy on two counts. First, Clodfelter's selection as mayor comes too late in 2014 for someone to run for his Senate District 37 seat. Instead, Democratic officials in his District will choose somebody to fill out Clodfelter's term, and that appointee will likely take his spot on the November ballot. That person will likely run unopposed in the district, which means that voters won't be selecting their representative for the next 2 1/2 years.
Mayfield, who quickly offered her support for Mitchell after Cannon resigned, also thinks that if Clodfelter wanted to be mayor, he should have raised his hand last year. "If (Clodfelter) had wanted to run for mayor, he had the opportunity to run for mayor," Mayfield says. "That was his choice."
Mayfield has a reputation as someone who stays true to herself with her council votes. "I'm not going to follow along for the sake of appearances," she told me. Nothing wrong with that.
One more awkward moment: After the council meeting, Mayfield ran into Clodfelter and council member Vi Lyles at a Charlotte restaurant.
Interesting, just ran into Vi Lyles and new Mayor Clodfelter. Let The Games Begin..... (@ Vivace Italian Restaurant) http://t.co/KCM3q9wA8c
— LaWana Mayfield (@lawanamayfield) April 7, 2014
According to Mayfield, Lyles told her without prompting that she was just popping into the restaurant to pick up dinner on the way home. Mayfield was clearly skeptical. "You're already coordinating a private meeting," she said today about Lyles. "You're already playing games."
Peter St. Onge