Mecklenburg County Democratic Women Reject Mayor Vi Lyles and City Council: "No RNC in Charlotte!"
By KEN KOONTZ
Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles went before one of her strongest support groups Wednesday night to make her case for supporting Charlotte City Council’s bid to bring the 2020 Republican National Convention to Charlotte.
First-term Democratic Mayor Lyles outlined her reasons in an open forum of the group’s monthly meeting at the Little Rock Community Center. But, it was behind closed doors that the women’s group membership debated what action it would take on the highly-charged political issue.
Organization President Connie Green-Johnson said their Board of Directors had voted a week ago to tell City Council “No RNC for Charlotte.” But they later decided to put it to a vote before the full membership this week. Green-Johnson said the vote was 32 AGAINST bringing the GOP’s weeklong session to Charlotte and votes FOR bringing it to the Queen City.
Mayor Lyles had made about a 20-minute speech to the group outlining why she joined ten City Council members to move forward with their bid to host the Convention.
Lyles noted that much of the opposition to having the RNC 2020 Convention in Charlotte centers on the divisive nature of sitting President Donald Trump and opposition concerns that the Convention will attract major protests that could likely be accompanied by civil unrest that would negatively impact the city’s global positive image. She noted concerns that many opponents have expressed about overall safety and security. “I cannot speak to what 2020 will bring,” she said.
Lyles emphasized that as Mayor, she represents all Charlotte citizens, including the 150,000 registered Republicans here. City Council’s moving forward with its bid does not represent an “endorsement” of the GOP or its candidates. “There will be no official welcome address by the Mayor or likely any other City Council member,” she noted.
Putting a positive spin on the effort to challenge Las Vegas as the only other bidder for host city, Lyles said she hopes the event will showcase people “working together” across all socio-economic levels, not just big corporate folks having opportunities and making money.
From the outset of her term as Mayor, Lyles said she worked hard to build trust at all levels of governments, especially federal officials. She said she has met most frequently with Congressman Tom Tillis to forge support for bringing the RNC to Charlotte. She said she got a resounding 10-1 agreement from City Council members to pursue the effort. She noted that corporate leaders joined the effort to work with the Charlotte Regional Conventions/Visitors Bureau which had responsibility to put the bid together.
“Most likely we will have an offer to host the 2020 RNC,” she said.
Comparing Charlotte to Cleveland, where the 2016 RNC Convention was held, Lyles noted that Charlotte has better appeal as it has more hotels, better transportation. “The economic impact here,” she said, “will exceed 100-million-dollars.”
Lyles noted that RNC Convention planners will set up operations here two years prior to the event and more than 1,000 media outlets would converge on Charlotte to cover it, “They may call us Charleston or Charlottesville,” she quipped, “but by the time they leave, they will be saying Charlotte. We will create a legacy,” she boasted.
Though she came into the meeting from the front entrance glad-handing and smiling, after the vote, she gave media the slip and hastened to a waiting car outside a side door and left with reporters scrambling to get a sound bite or quote on the outcome of the “NO” vote.