Democrats sweep county’s at-large seats

Democrats strengthened their hold on the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners in this year’s general election, holding onto seats they already held and adding three open at-large seats.

Democratic at-large candidates Pat Cotham, Trevor Fuller and Kim Michele Ratliff took the three seats on Tuesday night, beating out three Republicans and a Libertarian candidate to ensure the county commission stays in Democrat hands for the near future. All three current at-large commissioners opted not to run for county office this year, with both Democrat Jennifer Roberts and Republican Jim Pendergraph running for the open U.S. House of Representatives District 9 seat of

Rep. Sue Myrick (R) and Democrat-turned-unaffiliated commission chairman Harold Cogdell stepped down. Pendergraph lost in his party’s primary election, and Roberts lost Tuesday night to Republican nominee Robert Pittenger.

Cotham won many of the heavily populated precincts – and 241,509 votes – and Ratliff dominated in north Charlotte with 239,250 votes. Fuller took home 232,777 votes.

“It was a great victory for our county because so many people were engaged and they voted,” Cotham said. “The more people are engaged, the better off we all are. All our voices are important.”

Cotham, who lives in south Charlotte, will first get to work getting to know and building relationships with her fellow commissioners.

“We aren’t always going to agree, but we need to find where that common ground is,” she said.

The three at-large winners will be joined on the board by Democrats Vilma Leake, George Dunlap and Dumont Clarke and Republicans Karen Bentley, Bill James and Matthew Ridenhour, who will be taking the seat of the late Neil Cooksey.

Republican Michael Hobbs – who came in fourth out of the seven candidates – took the majority of the area’s precincts, including those in Matthews and Mint Hill. Hobbs also took six precincts in north Mecklenburg, getting a total of 158,096 votes. But he still fell short of garnering enough votes to secure one of the three open seats.

“I appreciate all my support; all the people that helped my campaign and voted for me,” Hobbs said. He said he’ll take some time now to refocus before deciding on how to stay involved in county politics. “I’m really proud of what we did for a first-time candidate with no name recognition to be the top Republican vote-getter. I’m humbled by that.”

Republican James Peterson, who came in fifth, took four of the precincts in south Mecklenburg and 12 in the SouthPark area. He also won seven in North Mecklenburg for a total of 156,647 votes. Libertarian Jason Bateman didn’t win any precincts, taking 36,353 votes.

Winners will be sworn in next month, then immediately face a number of key tests that likely will start with figuring out what to do about the 2011 property tax revaluation. A review of the much-maligned revaluation will be submitted to the county commission in the coming weeks, leaving commissioners to decide what course to take on appeasing residents’ concerns. Some have discussed the possibility of throwing out the 2011 revaluation and starting over from scratch, while

Republicans have asked for home foreclosures to play a larger part in the revaluation numbers, which would likely lower many people’s property values and result in homeowners seeing lower property tax bills.

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