With most returns tallied, it appears next year’s Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners will look no different as three Democrat incumbent at-large commissioners and two district incumbents held onto healthy leads in Tuesday’s primary.
With 165 of 195 precincts reporting countywide, at-large Democrat incumbent Ella Scarborough was leading a four-candidate race with 32.87percent of the vote for three at-large seats on the board. Incumbent Pat Cotham trailed with 27.18 percent and incumbent Trevor Fuller, the board’s current chair, had 25.02 percent.
The Rev. Damiko Faulkner, an east Charlotte minister and fashion consultant, was fourth with 14.94 percent of the vote.
The three winners will face Republican Jeremy Brasch on the November ballot.
In District 2 with 26 of 29 precincts, four-term commissioner Vilma Leake survived bids from two challengers, with 66.56 percent of the vote in her district that is largely west Mecklenburg. Newcomer Angela Edwards, a minister, who’d been in third place most of the night, moved into second place with 16.95 percent of the vote and Lula Dualeh, the daughter of Somalian immigrants, slipped into third with 16.49 percent.
Unopposed in November, Leake will serve a fifth term.
And in District 6, 10-term Republican incumbent Bill James, unopposed in November, won an 11th term. With 24 of 29 precincts reporting, James held a commanding lead with 63.39 percent of the vote, to newcomer challenger Joel Levy’s 36.61 percent.
The at-large winners will have to wait until the general election in November to nail down another two-year term. District 5 Republican incumbent Matthew Ridenhour will be challenged by Democrat Marc Friedland on the November ballot. That district is heavily Republican.
Cotham and Fuller are both two-term board members. Cotham, the top vote-getter in the past two general elections, chaired the board for the first year of her first term. But, unhappy with her leadership as she shook up county government and an eagerness to compromise with Republican commissioners, her five fellow Democrats ousted her after a year, and replaced her with Fuller for the next three years.
Scarborough is in her first term, but she’s no political rookie – having served on Charlotte City Council for five terms, the first black woman to win an at-large seat.
Fuller, a Charlotte lawyer, has been a steady hand, bringing an often-quarrelsome board some control.
He has focused on the county’s economic disparities since 2014, when a study showed that Charlotte’s poor children have the worst odds of those in any big American city to lift themselves out of poverty. A 20-member task force was appointed to search for solutions. A report is due by year’s end.
Since then, he’s pushed the issue of ending poverty and urged the county to create training programs that will help fill 8,000 jobs at local companies the next 18 months.
Pat Cotham 27.18%
Damiko Faulkner 14.94%
Trevor Fuller 25.02%
Ella Scarborough 32.87%
165 of 195 precincts reporting
Lula Dualeh 16.49%
Angela Edwards 16.95%
Vilma Leake 66.56%
26 of 29 precincts reporting
Bill James 63.39%
Joel Levy 36.61%
24 of 29 precincts reporting