Vi Lyles

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Vi Lyles
Vi Lyles 2019.jpg
59th Mayor of Charlotte
Assumed office
December 4, 2017
Preceded byJennifer Roberts
Mayor pro tempore of Charlotte
In office
December 2015 – December 4, 2017
Preceded byMichael Barnes
Succeeded byJulie Eiselt
Personal details
Viola Alexander

(1952-09-28) September 28, 1952 (age 70)
Columbia, South Carolina, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
John Lyles
(m. 1996; died 2013)
EducationQueens University (BA)
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (MPA)
WebsiteOfficial website

Viola Alexander Lyles (born September 28, 1952[1]) is an American politician serving as the 59th mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, since 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, Lyles was a member of the Charlotte City Council before taking office as mayor.

Early life and education[edit]

Lyles was raised in Columbia, South Carolina.[2] Her father owned his own construction company and her mother worked as a teacher.[3] She earned her Bachelor of Arts in political science from Queens University of Charlotte and a Master of Public Administration from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.[4]


Lyles worked for the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, as a budget analyst, budget director, and assistant city manager. Starting in 2004, she worked as a consulting director for the Lee Institute and then for Flynn Heath Holt Leadership.[2] She was the community outreach director for the 2012 Democratic National Convention.[3]

Lyles was elected to the Charlotte City Council in 2013,[5] and was elected mayor pro-tem in 2015.[6] Following the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in September 2016, she proposed a seven-point plan to reduce racial and class divisions in the city, parts of which were approved by the council.[7]

Lyles ran for mayor of Charlotte in the 2017 election. She defeated Jennifer Roberts, the incumbent mayor, in the Democratic Party primary election in September 2017[8] and defeated Kenny Smith, a Republican member of the city council, in the November general election. She is the first African-American female mayor of the city,[6] and also its first former city administrator to serve as mayor.[3]

Electoral History[edit]

2017 Democratic Primary[edit]

Vi Lyles defeated incumbent Jennifer Roberts by 15,805 votes (46.13%) to 12,412 votes (36.23%). [9]

2017 General Election[edit]

Vi Lyles defeated Republican Kenny Smith in the 2017 Charlotte Mayoral Election, winning with 72,073 votes (59.15%) to Smith's 49,652 (40.75%).[10]

2019 General Election[edit]

After winning the Democratic primary as the Mayoral incumbent, Lyles was challenged by Republican David Michael Rice in the general election with Lyles winning the election, holding 70,886 votes (77.3%) to Rice's 20,459 votes (22.3%).[11]

2022 General Election[edit]

Following another landslide Democratic primary election, Lyles was again chosen as the Democrat candidate for the 2022 Charlotte Mayoral Election where her challenger was Republican Stephanie de Sarachaga-Bilbao. Lyles secured 49,324 votes (68.4%) and won election to her third mayoral term as de Sarachaga-Bilbao received a lackluster 22,580 votes (31.3%).[12]


One of the areas of policy that Mayor Vi Lyles focuses her efforts on is the expansion of Charlotte because it is one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation.[13] To connect the different areas of the city, Lyles alongside the Charlotte Area Transit System, opened a 19-mile light rail transit line.[13] The railway that opened in Lyles’ first term, is expected to reduce traffic accidents[14] and increase urban mobility and accessibility.[15] Additionally, Lyles implemented a Vision Zero philosophy with the intention to further decrease traffic fatalities.

Unemployment is a prevalent indicator of economic success. Mayor Lyles entered office in 2015 with Charlotte’s unemployment averaging 5.30%[16]. Lyles aided the creation of more than 27,000 new jobs by securing Charlotte as the location for expansion by Honeywell, Lowes, and Microsoft [13]. This combined with the development of homegrown businesses, such as LendingTree and Avid Exchange, [13] led to an influx of employment opportunities. As more jobs became available in Charlotte, the unemployment rate average decreased: 4.85% (2016), 4.38% (2017), 3.88% (2018), 3.68% (2019), 7.76% (2020), 4.67% (2021), and 3.76% (2022 Jan-Aug) [16]. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the unemployment average in 2020 was 3.77% before jumping to a staggering 13.0% in April 2020 [16]. As reflected in these statistics, Lyles is dedicated to economic expansion in Charlotte.

On August 10, 2021, Lyles said she could not institute a mask mandate and could not require people to get vaccinated. She says that requiring people to get the vaccine could have a more negative effect on the community, but strongly suggests people get vaccinated as soon as possible. On August 28, 2021, after over 1,000 people died of COVID in Mecklenburg county, Lyles instituted a mask mandate. She urged people to take the virus seriously and to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Mayor Lyles found herself and the city of Charlotte in some controversy after Representative Tedd Budd wrote an open letter to Maylor Lyles questioning the use of American Relief Plan funds dedicated to helping with COVID-19 costs. After a city employee posted the budget plans for the relief fund, Representative Budd claims it was not being used properly. Lyles responded by saying all of the funding was being used to help address issues brought up by the pandemic but appreciates Representative Budd’s concern.

Personal life[edit]

Lyles was married to John Lyles for 17 years prior to his death in 2013.[17] Lyles has two children, Kwame and Aisha Alexander, as well as two stepchildren, Sean and John Lyles Jr.[18] She lives in the SouthPark neighborhood in Charlotte.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2021-06-23. Retrieved 2017-11-08.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ a b Jim Morrill (October 13, 2017). "They often agree, so what makes Democrat Vi Lyles different from Mayor Roberts?". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Jim Morrill; Katherine Peralta; Ely Portillo (November 7, 2017). "Democrat Vi Lyles makes history in Charlotte mayoral win". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  4. ^ "What's the background of Charlotte mayoral candidates Lyles and Smith?". The Charlotte Observer. September 12, 2017. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  5. ^ Jonathan McFadden (October 24, 2015). "Vi Lyles aims to fulfill promises". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  6. ^ a b Skip Foreman (November 8, 2017). "Democrat Lyles elected as Charlotte's first female African American mayor". CBS News. Associated Press. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  7. ^ Greg Lacour (November 29, 2016). "Vi Lyles Goes All In". Charlotte Magazine. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  8. ^ "Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts concedes". The Charlotte Observer. September 13, 2017. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  9. ^ "NC SBE Contest Results". Retrieved 2022-11-07.
  10. ^ "NC SBE Contest Results". Retrieved 2022-11-07.
  11. ^ "NC SBE Contest Results". Retrieved 2022-11-07.
  12. ^ "Mayoral election in Charlotte, North Carolina (2022)". Ballotpedia. Retrieved 2022-11-07.
  13. ^ a b c d "Mayor Vi Alexander Lyles". City of Charlotte Government. Retrieved 2022-11-07.
  14. ^ Tavakoli Kashani, Ali; Sartibi, Zahra (2022-04-01). "Is There a Relationship Between Rail Transport and Road Fatalities?". Iranian Journal of Science and Technology, Transactions of Civil Engineering. 46 (2): 1645–1654. doi:10.1007/s40996-021-00667-y. ISSN 2364-1843.
  15. ^ angelawu. "Does Light Rail Reduce Traffic? The Case of the LA Expo Line". Transfers Magazine. Retrieved 2022-11-07.
  16. ^ a b c "Charlotte, NC Unemployment | Homefacts". Retrieved 2022-11-28.
  17. ^ "In Memory of John Lyles 1944–2013 | Vi Alexander Lyles". Vi Alexander Lyles for City Council. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  18. ^ "LYLES, JOHN". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  19. ^ "Charlotte city council at-large: Vi Lyles on the issues". The Charlotte Observer. September 2, 2015. Retrieved November 8, 2017.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Mayor of Charlotte