Vi Lyles: Riots, Protests Got Us Focused

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – One year ago, in the wake of the Keith Lamont Scott shooting, Vi Lyles, as Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem, signed a letter to the community, promising, in part more jobs and more affordable housing. Specifically, 5,000 units in three years. Right now, they’re at 2,200.

Fogarty asked Lyles, “As a Charlotte resident, it frustrates me to hear that it took what happened in the aftermath of the Keith Lamont Scott shooting for city leaders to step forward and make these commitments. Is it frustrating for you as well, in the sense that there might be a perception that the city’s eyes were not open to those issues before, and now they are, and will they remain open?” Lyles replied, “Morgan, I am a student of history and I really pay attention to this. We’ve known these issues have existed for a long time. We’ve known about how banks red line properties where African Americans couldn’t borrow money, where, we’ve know that women can’t get business loans just like other folks can, so we’ve known this.” She continued, “But sometimes, it (the aftermath of the Scott shooting) gets you focused. A crisis like that, can get us focused and we are now very focused.”

Lyles has worked for the city of Charlotte for 30 years, in the budget department and as Assistant City Manager. She is often praised for her ability to find compromise. But some criticized her willingness to compromise on the HB2 repeal deal, saying there can be no compromise in the fight for equality. Fogarty asked Lyles, “Can there be compromise in the fight for equality?” She replied, “So, Morgan, just think about the Civil Rights Movement and how much compromise was done over 50 years of compromise. So, again, if you look at history, most things are a compromise. The things that we are doing today, we have to figure out common ground.”

Hugh McColl, the former chairman of Bank of America and one of the architects of the city of Charlotte, supports Lyles’ bid for mayor. Fogarty asked Lyles, “What is the best advice you’ve gotten from Mr. McColl?” She replied, “When I talk to Mr. McColl, he doesn’t give me much advice. He comments and encourages me. I think that by having his support, what he is saying is, that I’ve watched you since you were, have come to the city, and I’ve believed in your values and strength, I believe in your leadership skills.” She continues, “He also says that we have to have leadership and it has to change and he is saying that I am a leader that the community can depend on.”

Lyles says she doesn’t regret casting a vote for the I-77 toll lanes, but she uses the word “blackmail” to describe the process. Look for that extra content on, as well as her response when Fogarty asked her if she thinks Stonewall Street should be renamed.

Thursday night on WCCB News @ Ten, watch for Will Kennedy’s interview with Republican mayoral candidate Kenny Smith.