Viewpoint

Why we ousted Trevor Fuller as chairman

New Mecklenburg commissioners vice chair Jim Puckett says former Chair Trevor Fuller was ousted because he didn’t listen to fellow commissioners.
New Mecklenburg commissioners vice chair Jim Puckett says former Chair Trevor Fuller was ousted because he didn’t listen to fellow commissioners. 2015 file photo

Former Mecklenburg commissioners’ chairman Trevor Fuller called Monday’s election of Ella Scarborough as chair “treachery.” His comment speaks volumes about his self-importance and his expectation that fellow commissioners bow to his leadership.

Apparently, in Fuller’s view, we owe him our fidelity and to do otherwise is unconscionable. He spewed divisive comments Monday that demeaned Republicans and offered veiled insults of Scarborough in a self-absorbed diatribe. In light of Fuller’s divisive and demeaning comments, I offer some insight into why I and, I suspect, others supported a change.

As chairman, Fuller gave lip service to those who offered suggestions for improving education, budget considerations, process change, etc. He was often patronizing at the dais and disingenuous in his personal exchanges. Repeatedly other commissioners and I discovered via media far-reaching and costly initiatives unilaterally proposed by Fuller without the usual etiquette of a chance to weigh in. During his feigned bewilderment to the reason he was challenged for leadership, he questioned why no one ever gave him the courtesy of letting him know our concerns. Ironically, it was his practice of never returning phone calls or answering emails that led many to feel he just did not care. I had given him the benefit of the doubt, assumed he lacked the time to engage or perhaps just had an indifference to my opinion, but the truth spewed like a geyser when confronted with removal. Fuller made his motives clear. He was elected by Democrats, funded by Democrats and found the Democratic solution to every problem better in every way than that of Republicans. Clearly he does not suffer alternate views or even those willing to engage them gladly. Oh, he admitted not all Republican ideas are worthless but his raised hands and rolled eyes belied his arrogant attitude of political superiority and explained his failure to engage.

When Ella Scarborough called and pledged to be inclusive in policy development and vowed to avoid unilateral pronouncements, I quickly offered my support. She later asked if I would consider the vice chairmanship as a tangible example of her belief that everyone should be a part of any solution. The offer came to me as proof of a willingness to engage, not from me as a condition of support.

I am proud to be a part of this board, and consider each member including Fuller a friend and valued partner. I have voted in support of 11 Democratic chairs and have joined them in a collective effort to move our community forward. I hope those who so adamantly oppose a change will set aside their angst. I see an unusual pool of talent, a willingness on the part of most members to look for strength in our differences, opportunities in our varied skill sets and a willingness to seek avenues for success from our diverse experiences. Despite the vitriol, I believe when partnered with an exceedingly talented staff we are not only up to any challenge but are willing to run toward workable solutions.

Mecklenburg County commissioner Jim Puckett is vice-chair of the board and represents District 1.

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