Charlotte, NC, elected its first woman of color mayor on Tuesday night — Democrat Vi Lyles. Before she was elected mayor, Lyles served on city council and as assistant city manager.
With 95% of precincts reporting. Lyles easily defeated her Republican challenger, Kenny Smith. She won 58% of the vote compared to Smith’s 41%. According to The Charlotte Observer, Lyles won despite being significantly outspent. In a victory speech, Lyles attributed her win to a surprisingly high voter turnout.
“With this opportunity you’ve given me, you’ve proven that we are a city of opportunity and inclusiveness,” she told supporters. “You’ve proven that a woman whose father didn’t graduate from high school can become this city’s first female African-American mayor.”
Lyles also won despite a massive smear campaign launched against her by donors from outside the state. In October, The Observer reported that The Values Coalition, a group supporting Smith, sponsored a Facebook ad claiming Lyles endorsed “a radical national LGBT agenda.”
Tuesday’s election is shaping up to be historic in more ways than one: Minneapolis elected the first openly trans woman of color to its City Council, Andrea Jenkins, and Virginia elected the first openly trans woman to its state legislature, Danica Roem.