Democrat Pat Cotham, a newcomer to elected office but a force for years in local Democratic Party politics, was elected chairman of the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners Monday night.
Cotham and at-large Democrats Kim Ratliff and Trevor Fuller were sworn in during a ceremony in government chambers Monday night.
Republican Matthew Ridenhour, sworn in two weeks ago to fill the remaining few weeks of the late Neil Cookseys term, also took the oath for a full term hed won Nov. 6. Incumbents Dumont Clarke, George Dunlap and Vilma Leake, all Democrats, and Republicans Karen Bentley and Bill James were also sworn in.
In an interview, Cotham said she was prepared to chair the board because of her many years working in the corporate, nonprofit and political worlds and the relationships shes built in all three.
She has worked on other campaigns behind the scenes, coordinated the Uptown Democratic Forum, been president of Mecklenburg Democratic women three times and shes one of seven North Carolinians on the Democratic National Committee.
Cotham was the top vote-getter on election day last month. Historically, the commissioner with the most votes is elected chairman.
Im not nervous about (chairing the board), said Cotham, whose daughter, Tricia, is a state House member from Matthews. Ive been in leadership positions before. The voters game me the lead and if the voters want me to be the chair, thats a strong endorsement.
Cotham has been president of her own company, and worked in management for large corporations. Shes also been an hourly employee while she cared for elderly family members.
She currently works with people with prison terms, helping them prepare for and find jobs. The 35-year-old Charlotte nonprofit, A Center for Community Transitions, works mainly with men, but also guides 30 women in work relief programs.
We help them transition back into society, said Cotham, whose daughter, Tricia, is a state House member from Matthews. These people are trying to do the right, and just need extra help and direction.