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Charlotte mayor wins, Wake sheriff loses in local elections

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JustGrimes on Flickr

The mayor of North Carolina's largest city has won another term as mayor, while the top law enforcement officer in the state's largest county fell short in his reelection bid following a primary runoff.

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles won a third term on Tuesday, as the Democrat defeated Republican rival Stephanie de Sarachaga-Bilbao by a more than 2-to-1 margin, according to unofficial results.

In Greensboro, the state's third-largest city, Mayor Nancy Vaughan led challenger Justin Outling by more than 400 votes in the officially nonpartisan race. The News & Record of Greensboro reported that Outling, a city council member, declined to concede late Tuesday, saying he wanted to wait for other votes to be counted. There are an unknown number of provisional and mail-in absentee ballots outstanding. About 15% of the mayoral votes counted by Tuesday were for write-in candidates.

Meanwhile, Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker lost handily to former deputy Willie Rowe in a runoff for the Democratic nomination. Rowe will now take on Republican Donnie Harrison — a former sheriff — in the November election.

Rowe, who worked in the sheriff's office for 28 years, had finished ahead of Baker in the seven-candidate May 17 Democratic primary.

But he failed to exceed the 30% threshold to win outright, leading to a runoff against second-place finisher Baker, who was first elected in 2018 by defeating Harrison.

Among other duties, the Wake sheriff runs the county's jails, manages pistol permits, serves warrants and polices certain sections of the county.

Issues in the primary included concerns about increased violence, Baker’s treatment of employees and how his office handled protests following the 2020 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported. Baker had defended his agency's use of tear gas against demonstrators in downtown Raleigh, saying at the time that it had received information that people wanted to set law enforcement and court buildings on fire.

Baker ran in 2018 primarily on his opposition to Wake’s longtime formal partnership with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in which deputies enforce immigration laws in the jail. Once elected, he cut ties with the 287(g) program.

Voters in more than a dozen municipalities or counties had elections on Tuesday, either to elect new officials or pick party nominees.

Municipal elections are usually held in odd-numbered years, but some were moved to this year because of 2020 census delays. Those results are needed to adjust district boundaries for population changes.

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