Democrat Kim Ratliff and Republican James Peterson were leading in their party primaries to fill the three at-large seats on the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners.
The race for the at-large seats is wide open with none of the incumbents seeking re-election for the first time in at least 20 years. The outcome of the race traditionally determines which party holds a majority on the county board.
The Democratic field drew a dozen candidates. Ratliff was in first place with nearly 16 percent of votes, with 191 of 195 precincts in late Tuesday. She was followed by party activist Pat Cotham, who won nearly 15 percent.
Meanwhile, attorneys Trevor Fuller and Marc Gustafson appeared headed for a possible runoff for the third and final spot on the Democratic ticket. Fuller won 11.53 percent of votes, though he appeared to be just shy of the plurality needed to definitely send him on to the general election. Gustafson had 11.17 percent of votes with incomplete returns.
On the Republican side, Peterson was leading with just over 31 percent of votes in the early returns. Expected to round out the GOP ticket are Michael Hobbs (31 percent) and Wayne Powers (nearly 28 percent). Angelique Diaz Landry finished in fourth place.
The top three finishers in the party primaries will advance to the general election, along with Libertarian Jason Bateman.
Peterson, who works in financial services, said he was glad to see Powers and Hobbs also pulling in votes, calling them very good candidates. He said he was eager to start meeting with constituents again.
Like many candidates, Peterson has touted the need to help spur more job creation in the county. Hobbs has said hed push for an audit to identify waste in county agencies, said hed like to refocus some education money toward vocational training.
Powers has said hed like the county to restructure its spending on Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and also would call for 5-6 percent cuts across most county services.
Cotham, a recruiter and job advocate, has said she thinks education is a critical tool for economic development. Ratcliff called a quality education system the hallmark of thriving communities.
Gustafson, who had been ahead of Fuller for much of Tuesday, said he also was ready to look ahead to November. But asked about a possible runoff, he said hed look for ways to continue getting his platform to voters.
Our message is resonating with people from all over the county, he said