Democrats swept all three at-large Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners seats on Tuesday, with Pat Cotham, Kim Ratliff and Trevor Fuller in line to join the board early next month.
Here are some of the issues that could confront the new board, with its 6-3 Democratic majority:
Who will be chair?
One of the first votes looming for the new board will be picking its leaders for the upcoming year. Prior to 2010, the chair and vice chair roles have traditionally been filled by the candidates from the majority party who received the most votes in the at-large race. So that would give an edge to Cotham and Ratliff for the leadership roles.
But there have been some rumblings in recent weeks concerning whether one of the veteran district representatives ought to fill one of the leadership slots. Republican commissioner Bill James says he expects the boards Democrats will have discussions on what to do with the seats, but said, I dont see myself backing someone who has zero experience.
The chair is typically the most visible commissioner, running meetings and representing the county at official events and boards.
Cotham said she is interested in being considered as chair. She noted the at-large candidates receive support from voters across the county and Tuesdays results will help bring fresh voices and energy to the county board. She also said her past business and political involvement could be an asset, particularly in the relationships she has with state and community leaders.
Ratliff said Wednesday she hadnt yet thought about the leadership roles, while Fuller said he wanted to have a chance to talk with others on the board about how to pick the new chair and vice chair.
What will they work on?
Once the leadership roles are settled, the next slate of commissioners will face plenty of other matters.
One of the early decisions may focus on how to respond to recommendations from an outside team that reviewed the 2011 revaluation, as well as deciding when the county will appraise properties again.
Outgoing Chairman Harold Cogdell has said hed like the board to take some action of the recommendations, in part, because the reval happened during the latest term.
Still, it is likely the bulk of the work will fall to the new board.
Commissioners also are likely to tackle lingering questions concerning oversight of the countys Department of Social Services and health agencies, as well as whether to make changes to how to handle appeals from department directors or other top county officials who are terminated.
And come spring, the board will have to tackle the 2013-14 budget, including the perennial debate concerning how much money to give to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
All three of the at-large members have voiced their support for adequate funding for the school system, with Fuller particularly interested in investments in science, math and technology-related programs.
What will the Democrats six-to-three majority on the board mean?
At first glance, the sweep of the at-large seats appears to give the Democrats a clear advantage when it comes to pushing through spending proposals or other policies favored by those in the party.
In recent years, the board has primarily split on decisions about where to set the tax rate and how much to give to schools and other services.
Still, the at-large reps say they intend to reach out to all of their colleagues, including Republicans, when making decisions.
This is not a county made up only of Democrats, Fuller said. It is made up of Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians and others and we are not doing out jobs unless we are taking into account the views of all people in Mecklenburg County.
Said Ratliff: Whether youre Democrat or Republican, I hope we can all get along ... We can all agree to work together for the good of the community.
How soon will they begin work?
The new board wont be sworn in until Dec. 3.
But county staff have planned a daylong orientation for the new group of commissioners Nov. 29.
The session will include talks from the countys executive, budget and finance and legal teams, said Amber Snowden, an assistant to the county manager.
It is possible that one of the new commissioners could make his debut sooner. The board has not yet appointed someone to fill the remaining weeks of the second term of commissioner Neil Cooksey, who died last month.
Theres some talk of appointing representative-elect Matthew Ridenhour before the end of the month so the district will be represented when the revaluation report comes out later this month.
In the meantime, the incoming commissioners say theyre working to get up to speed on county issues.
Some have attended board meetings or talked with current commissioners during the campaign, and say they intend to follow up on those discussions in the coming weeks.