Ev­ery­thing you need to know about the con­ven­tion,

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY STEVE HAR­RI­SON shar­ri­[email protected]­lot­teob­server.com Steve Har­ri­son: 704-358-5160, @Shar­rison_Obs

Democrats op­posed to host­ing the Repub­li­can Na­tional Con­ven­tion have fo­cused much of their anger on one man: first­term City Coun­cil mem­ber Larken Egle­ston, a Demo­crat who ar­guably cast the de­cid­ing vote.

Egle­ston has been bom­barded on so­cial me­dia with ex­ple­tives and threats af­ter he voted in fa­vor of ap­prov­ing ten­ta­tive con­tracts with the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee and the lo­cal host com­mit­tee. The coun­cil’s 6-5 vote paves the way for the RNC to award Char­lotte the con­ven­tion. City lead­ers ex­pect the RNC site se­lec­tion com­mit­tee to back Char­lotte Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

“I would be do­ing a lot bet­ter with­out the in­ter­net,” Egle­ston said Tues­day morn­ing in an in­ter­view, a ref­er­ence to the del­uge of crit­i­cism he has re­ceived by email, Twit­ter and Face­book.

At Mon­day’s meet­ing, Egle­ston said politi­cians shouldn’t al­ways be think­ing about the next elec­tion, per­haps an­tic­i­pat­ing the crit­i­cism. He said he would not “com­bat the dis­ap­point­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics of this pres­i­dent by em­u­lat­ing them.”

The morn­ing af­ter the vote, he said he knew his vote would be un­pop­u­lar.

“It’s not the end of my world if I’m only on City Coun­cil for two years,” he said Tues­day.

On Twit­ter, the group “No RNC in CLT” posted that Egle­ston “won his 2017 pri­mary by only 432 votes, 6.52% of to­tal votes. Per­haps we should re­mind him of that.”

Egle­ston rep­re­sents District 1, which cov­ers South End, part of up­town, Dil­worth, Villa Heights, Tryon Hills and Plaza Mid­wood. It has a smaller per­cent­age of Repub­li­cans than the city over­all (18 per­cent to 21 per­cent in the city).

Egle­ston, a first-time can­di­date, de­feated long­time in­cum­bent Patsy Kin­sey in the Septem­ber 2017 Demo­cratic pri­mary.

One of the key is­sues in the cam­paign was an un­pop­u­lar re­zon­ing de­ci­sion in which coun­cil mem­bers and Kin­sey re­jected a bid to build town­homes and a swim club on the Van Land­ing­ham Es­tate in Plaza Mid­wood. That de­ci­sion drew much smaller me­dia at­ten­tion and in­ter­est from District 1 ac­tivists than Mon­day’s RNC vote.

Kin­sey on Tues­day said she would have voted against the RNC, and left the door open for run­ning for City Coun­cil again.

DIDN’T AN­NOUNCE PO­SI­TION

Egle­ston has drawn the ire of lib­eral vot­ers for sev­eral rea­sons, even though he was one of four Demo­cratic coun­cil mem­bers to sup­port the con­ven­tion.

Demo­cratic ac­tivist Ray McKin­non, a pas­tor who op­posed the RNC, said it’s “a lit­tle un­fair that he’s get­ting the lion share of the blame.”

McKin­non said that lib­eral vot­ers as­sumed Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt, a mod­er­ate, would sup­port the con­ven­tion. Eiselt had also an­nounced she would vote yes be­fore the meet­ing. He said ac­tivists gave Demo­cratic Mayor Vi Lyles a pass be­cause she had al­ways sup­ported host­ing.

Egle­ston did not say how he would vote be­fore the meet­ing, lead­ing Demo­cratic ac­tivists to hope he was on their side. The 35-year-old is one of five new coun­cil mem­bers un­der 40 elected in Novem­ber.

“With Larken be­ing in the new class, and hav­ing the makeup of his district, folks thought he would be more swayable,” McKin­non said. “It’s very likely he will get a pri­mary chal­lenger.”

Lead­ing up to Mon­day’s vote, Egle­ston had told the me­dia he was un­de­cided. His col­leagues be­lieved he would be a yes vote.

Af­ter about 100 res­i­dents spoke, Lyles gave each coun­cil mem­ber a chance to give his or her view of the RNC. When she got to Egle­ston, four coun­cil mem­bers had voiced sup­port for the con­ven­tion. Five had said they would op­pose it.

The other re­main­ing coun­cil mem­ber — Demo­crat James Mitchell — had long been a backer of the RNC.

Be­fore his vote to sup­port the RNC, Egle­ston said: “Host­ing the RNC in Char­lotte in no way im­plies our en­dorse­ment of this pres­i­dent.”

Egle­ston said Tues­day his col­leagues viewed Mon­day’s vote as whether to move for­ward with the bid. Egle­ston said that vote and dis­cus­sion should have hap­pened months ago, and he felt it was too late to re­ject the RNC af­ter five months of try­ing to win it.

“(This week’s) vote was re­ally about do we want to flip the table over,” he said.

Demo­crat Justin Har­low, who voted no, said last week that the RNC has plenty of time to find another city.

Demo­crat Brax­ton Win­ston, who also voted no, com­pared the city’s Fe­bru­ary bid with walk­ing into a restau­rant and sit­ting at the table.

“If you don’t like what’s on the menu, you get up and leave,” Win­ston said.

Kin­sey, who lost to Egle­ston, said last week the coun­cil al­ways has the right to change its mind.

She said Tues­day she would have voted no.

“It was not be­cause I didn’t think the RNC should come,” Kin­sey said. “I’m just very, very scared about what ( protests) might have come along with it.”

EGLE­STON SAYS NO CON­FLICT

Af­ter the vote, Egle­ston said he was asked by con­stituents whether his job in sales for a liquor dis­trib­u­tor in­flu­enced his vote. The RNC is ex­pected to boost the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try.

But he said he works on salary — not com­mis­sion — for a na­tional dis­trib­u­tor. He said he would not re­ceive any ben­e­fit from the con­ven­tion.

N.C. law re­quires that elected of­fi­cials vote, and they can only be re­cused in rare in­stances when they would ben­e­fit di­rectly.

In the past, the city has said a di­rect ben­e­fit would be if a coun­cil mem­ber owned a busi­ness that was to re­ceive a city con­tract.

“We are sup­posed to vote,” Egle­ston said. “We are not sup­posed to take the easy way out and re­cuse our­selves.”

Larken Egle­ston

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