Mecklenburg commissioners, District 5: Incumbent Ridenhour wins solidly

Republican incumbent Matthew Ridenhour won the District 5 seat on the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners, topping Democratic challenger Art Cardenas, according to unofficial results on Tuesday.

With all 51 precincts reporting, Ridenhour won 33,879 votes, while Cardenas had 18,699 votes, according to early results with the North Carolina State Board of Elections.

Both are seeking to represent the district that stretches from Myers Park deep into south Charlotte. District 5 voters have historically voted Republican, with just over 45,000 Republican voters, 38,000 Democratic voters, and 38,000 unaffiliated voters.

Challenger Cardenas, 49, a database administrator for Carolinas Healthcare, made county spending a campaign issue. He said the current board has not monitored spending closely enough, and pointed to the county spending $160,000 for opening celebrations of Romare Bearden Park uptown last year.

Ridenhour, who works in operations management at a recruiting and staffing company, was a Marine for 11 years. He served two tours in Iraq in 2005 and 2007. He is also a former tea party organizer in Mecklenburg.

During the campaign, he told the Observer he has kept a close watch on how the board spends money.

“I think I've brought a sense of fiscal responsibility and responsible spending of tax dollars,” he said.

During his first term, Ridenhour was a conservative voice on a board of six Democrats. He says he's been a compromise seeker, though he's not shied away from tangling on several issues, particularly over allowing concealed guns in county parks for people with permits and the sales tax referendum.