Charlotte’s new mayor, a Thomasville native
Daniel Clodfelter planted the seeds to a successful career in law and politics at Thomasville High School more than 40 years ago.
Clodfelter, a 63-year-old Chair City native, graduated from THS in 1968 as
captain of the debate team, and took those public speaking skills with him through an illustrious career that reached another climax earlier this week.
Clodfelter on April 9 became Charlotte's 57th mayor. The Democratic senator of the state's 37th District takes over for Patrick Cannon, who resigned his position on March 26 after being arrested on political corruption charges.
Charlotte City Council, following a 10-1 vote on Tuesday, appointed Clodfelter, who will serve out the rest of Cannon's term, which expires in 2015. Clodfelter resigned his Senate position to become Charlotte's mayor.
“He's well-spoken and we will be a definite problem-solver and an asset to Charlotte,” Sen. Stan Bingham (R-District 33) said of his former Senate member. “I was so pleased he was chosen. It will be a big burden on Dan but he'll be up to the task.”
After graduating from THS, Clodfelter attended Davidson College where he became president of the student body, captain of the debate team and a Rhodes Scholar. He graduated from Davidson in 1972, but not before recruiting Paul Mitchell, Thomasville's city attorney.
“He took me here and took me there and introduced to me everybody,” said Mitchell of his visit to Davidson with Clodfelter. “I couldn't say no at that point. When I got to college he was a senior when I was a freshman. He knew I was a debater. His little sister was good friends with my sister. My parents knew his parents and they're an old Thomasville family.”
Mitchell and Clodfelter's family attended First Baptist Church when the two future lawyers were growing up. Mitchell knew at an early age that Clodfelter had a special way with people.
“Danny has been a politician his whole life,” Mitchell said. “He's a big believer in networking. He's a mover and a shaker, and he makes things happen. He's a real nice guy and it's one of the reasons he's so popular. He's brilliant but at the same time he's down-to-earth and funny.”
Clodfelter earned his law degree from Yale in 1977 and served as a law clerk for Judge Jame McMillan for two years. He served on Charlotte City Council from 1987-93, and was elected to the Senate in 1999. During his time in the General Assembly, Clodfelter was co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee and developed a reputation for being able to bridge gaps.
“He works across the across the aisles and is a very common sense kind of guy,” said Bingham. “We have become very good friends through my service in the Senate. I've never been around a lot of Rhodes Scholars but the guy has an incredible memory. He is as good at law as any attorney I've even run into.”
Clodfelter has worked for Moore and Van Allen PLLC, a private Charlotte law firm, for more than 30 years.
Mitchell said he wouldn't be surprised if Clodfelter reached even greater heights in the North Carolina political landscape.
“I wouldn't be a bit surprised if he was governor in 10 years,” Mitchell said. “He is a very powerful and influential man with a whole lot of brains who is easy to get along with. He's red hot and has a lot of friends all over North Carolina because he is such a nice guy.”
Clodfelter is married to his wife, Elizabeth, and the couple have two children.
Attempts to contact Clodfelter were unsuccessful by Friday.
Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or firstname.lastname@example.org.