A bipartisan coalition of Mecklenburg County commissioners is poised to dethrone Chairman Trevor Fuller in favor of fellow Democrat Ella Scarborough.
Commissioners will be sworn in on Monday night and plan to elect their chairman at that time. Most often, the sitting chair is reappointed, but occasionally another commissioner cobbles together the votes needed to wrest the gavel away.
Scarborough is said to have the support of fellow Democrat Pat Cotham and the three Republicans on the board– Jim Puckett, Matthew Ridenhour and Bill James. Fuller has the support of Vice Chair Dumont Clarke, George Dunlap and Vilma Leake. If those votes all hold, Scarborough would win the chair in a 5-4 vote.
Under the plan, Puckett, who represents District 1, would be the vice chair, creating a rare but not unprecedented situation in which the chair and vice chair represent different parties.
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The chair runs the commissioner meetings and is generally the face of the county government at public events. Fuller has been quite visible during his three years as chairman, which rubbed some commissioners the wrong way. They saw him as more focused on building his own reputation than on working with the board as a team on county matters.
The three Republicans may feel that they have nothing to lose. They don’t feel that Fuller gives them much of a voice or values their opinions, and they could possibly fare better under Scarborough, particularly if she is elevated because of their support. Having Puckett as vice chair would also offer a veneer of bipartisanship on the board that may or may not translate to policy.
No one could blame Cotham if she had another incentive. She was chair in 2013 after she was the leading vote-getter in the November 2012 election. But after one year, Fuller orchestrated an effort to knock her out of the center seat. Whatever Cotham’s motive, Monday’s vote could even that score.
For decades the leading vote-getter in the election was named chair. Cotham’s ouster flew in the face of that; Fuller finished third in the balloting in both 2012 and 2014, well behind Cotham. This year, Scarborough finished third, far behind Cotham and just behind Fuller.
Fuller has run meetings effectively and has been a key player in the efforts of the community’s Opportunity Task Force. But he has clearly alienated several colleagues.
Should Scarborough become chair, we hope she will help build bridges on the board, run meetings efficiently and serve as an impressive representative for the county in the community.