Republican and Iraq War veteran Matthew Ridenhour won his bid Tuesday to occupy the late Republican Neil Cookseys District 5 seat on Mecklenburg County Commission.
In other contested district races, all the incumbents won.
From the start, Ridenhour, who served two tours in Iraq, jumped out to an early lead that widened throughout the vote count. With 48 of 51 precincts reporting, he had 57 percent of the vote to Democratic newcomer Paula Harveys 43 percent.
The seat, vacant since Cooksey died of cancer in mid-October, could become more important on Nov. 20. Thats when the board will likely take action on findings by county-hired Pearsons Appraisal Service about the controversial 2011 property revaluation.
Commission Chair Harold Cogdell said earlier Tuesday that he wants the seat filled before that meeting.
Were talking about tens of thousands who dont have a representative now, Cogdell said. We should try to fill that seat before we take up this important issue.
Tuesday, Ridenhour said hed like to be sworn in before Nov. 20 to give his district a voice in the revaluation.
Its important that people in any district have a voice especially when something as important as the revaluation comes up, he said. I am ready to answer the call.
Mecklenburg GOP Chair Gideon Moore said Tuesday hell call a meeting of the partys executive committee on Nov. 15 to fill Cookseys term before the Nov. 20 meeting.
I assume Matthew (Ridenhour) will be the person, Moore said.
The face-off for District 5 commanded the most interest after Cookseys death left district residents without a voice. The district spans across south Charlotte and includes the Myers Park, Olde Providence and SouthPark communities.
Ridenhour and Harvey said they heard constant concerns from voters over the countys 2011 revaluation.
Ridenhour, a financial analyst, is not new to politics. In 2009, he ran unsuccessfully for a seat on Charlotte City Council as a Tea Party candidate.
This time, he seemed to shy from his Tea Party connections, but ran on making the board more efficient with taxpayer money. He proposed that the board go to zero-based budgeting, which forces them to justify each line item.
This (victory) is very humbling, said Ridenhour, who joined by a few of his Marine buddies to watch the returns come in Tuesday. I loved being a Marine and serving in Iraq. But this feels pretty good, too.
• District 1: Republican incumbent Karen Bentley clung to a slim lead most of the night over Democrat Keith Bradford, but as the counting went on, that lead expanded. With 20 of 21 precincts in, Bentley led 54 percent to 46 percent.
• District 2: Democrat incumbent Vilma Leake won a third term to represent District 2 with 81 percent of the vote to Republican Kevin Spitzmillers 19, 27 of 29 precincts counted.
• District 6: Outspoken Republican Bill James, a commissioner since 1996, easily beat challenger Democrat Connie Green-Johnson 57 percent to 43 percent with 28 of 29 precincts counted. James, 55, had to survive a close primary fight with Republican Ed Driggs to get to the general election. As in the primary race, James campaigned largely from home by emails to voters in the southern Mecklenburg district that stretches for 25 miles from Mint Hill into the Steele Creek area.
• District 3 and 4: Democrat incumbents George Dunlap (District 3) and Dumont Clarke (District 4) ran unopposed.