Democrats elect Jeff Jackson to replace former state Sen. Clodfelter

jdepriest@charlotteobserver.comMay 3, 2014 

Democrats on Saturday elected Jeff Jackson to represent Mecklenburg County as the new District 37 state senator.

The 31-year-old assistant district attorney replaces former state Sen. Dan Clodfelter, a Charlotte Democrat who resigned last month after being tapped to succeed former Mayor Patrick Cannon, who was arrested in March on federal corruption charges.

A total of 49 Democrats voted; arcane party rules determine the number of voters.

Jackson will not only serve the remainder of Clodfelter’s current term, but take his place on the November ballot where he will run unopposed for a full two-year term.

“I have huge shoes to fill,” Jackson said after the election at Charlotte’s Little Rock AME Zion Church. “Dan Clodfelter is one of the steadiest public servants Mecklenburg County has ever had. I’m honored to be selected. It’s going to be a wonderful opportunity to serve, hopefully, millions across the state who are hurting.”

On the second ballot, Jackson got 25 votes. Innkeeper Billy Maddalon, who served briefly on the Charlotte City Council, got 21 votes and former school board member Amelia Stinson-Wesley of Pineville got three.

East Charlotte activist Darrell Bonapart was eliminated in the first ballot with only one vote.

Choked with emotion after the final results were announced, Jackson told Democrats gathered in the church, “We had a truly exceptional field of candidates, and it was an honor to be in the running.”

Robin Bradford, chair of the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party, said after the election that Democrats needed to support each other and work together.

Commenting on Saturday’s election process, she said it was done “very effectively, efficiently and it was transparent.”

Jackson will join 16 other Democratic senators when the short session begins on May 14. They’ll find themselves in a minority in a General Assembly where Republicans have super majorities.

Dumont Clarke, vice chairman of the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners, nominated Jackson as a candidate, calling him an “energetic, dedicated and committed young man.”

Pointing out Jackson’s service with the Army in Afghanistan, Clarke said Jackson’s military experience along with his courtroom experience will “serve us all well in the General Assembly.”

Before balloting began, candidates were allowed to speak for up to three minutes.

Jackson talked about changing the political landscape of North Carolina. To do that, he said, “we have to send people to the General Assembly who are prepared to dedicate their lives to achieving this dream.”

A Chapel Hill native, Jackson is an assistant district attorney in Gaston County. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in philosophy from Emory University and earned a law degree from UNC Chapel Hill.

He served as third vice chair of the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party. Jackson and his wife, Marisa, have a 5-year-old child.

In his remarks Saturday, Jackson said he told the boy earlier about the election that “if I won we’d get him a puppy.”

Saturday was also the Jacksons’ second wedding anniversary.

Citing the election outcome, Marisa Jackson said “this is a very big day. I think it overshadows our anniversary.”

DePriest: 704-868-7745

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