CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The first African-American woman to be elected mayor of North Carolina’s largest city said Wednesday she was upset by negative campaign ads used by her opponent and the groups that backed him.
The Charlotte Observer reports Democrat Vi Lyles told a news conference following her election on Tuesday as Charlotte’s new mayor that she was disappointed over the way the ads portrayed her. Despite the ads, Lyles won the race with 59 percent of the vote.
“When my kids Google my name, those ads come up. Did it bother me? Yes,” Lyles said. “The thought does cross your mind (about responding negatively). But I was committed to a positive campaign. You have to be who you are.”
Republican Kenny Smith’s campaign said Lyles was “lining her own pockets” by voting for a convention center construction contract that included a firm that employs Lyles’ son. The city attorney said she didn’t have a conflict and couldn’t have recused herself under state law.
Smith’s campaign also hit Lyles for raising taxes and fees, even though Smith had voted for a budget that also raised fees.
In contrast to Smith’s aggressive campaign, Lyles ran a low-key race. She said she invested in mailers, in part because she didn’t have enough money for many television and radio ads. She focused on meeting 500 voters a week.
The N.C. Republican Party blamed Lyles for the city’s rising homicide rate. The conservative NC Values Coalition released a digital ad that criticized Lyles for supporting the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance that allowed transgender individuals to use the bathroom that matched their gender identity. The ad showed a man entering the bathroom stall occupied by a young girl.
Some of Smith’s campaign ads tried to link Lyles to her predecessor, Jennifer Roberts, who she defeated in the Democratic primary.
“When you dismiss someone’s success, that means that you really don’t respect them,” Lyles told The Associated Press last week following a debate with Smith. “A lack of respect for a woman that’s working hard and doing good things, and to just compare her to someone else, someone that she has nothing in common with, it’s just disrespectful.”
Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com