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Pat Cotham doesn’t always hear voters’ ‘clear message’

Mecklenburg County Commissioners Pat Cotham (left), Trevor Fuller (middle) and Vilma Leake (right) all voiced skepticism Tuesday about a proposal for a quarter-cents sales tax increase to support the arts.
Mecklenburg County Commissioners Pat Cotham (left), Trevor Fuller (middle) and Vilma Leake (right) all voiced skepticism Tuesday about a proposal for a quarter-cents sales tax increase to support the arts. mhames@charlotteobserver.com

So, Pat Cotham, does the will of the voters matter or doesn’t it?

Cotham, a Mecklenburg County commissioner, is one of North Carolina’s 13 Democratic superdelegates. She says she will vote for Bernie Sanders at the Democratic National Convention next month, even though Hillary Clinton trounced Sanders in North Carolina’s primary in March.

“Yes, (Clinton) did carry North Carolina,” Cotham told the Observer’s Tim Funk, “but there should be a nod to all the people (in the state) who voted for Sanders.”

Whoa there. Then there should be a nod to all the people who voted for Trevor Fuller?

Cotham wasn’t so deferential to a minority of voters when she wanted to be Mecklenburg County commissioners chairman in 2014. In November 2014, Cotham finished first, 22,000 votes ahead of Fuller and 18,000 ahead of Ella Scarborough. Traditionally the leading vote-getter is named chairman of the county board. But Democrats on the board backed Fuller anyway.

Cotham pointed to the election results to argue that she, not Fuller, should be chairman.

“The people spoke on Election Day,” she said at the time.

“Our Board is elected not appointed,” she wrote to fellow commissioners before the chairman vote. “So the votes of the people should be held in the highest regard and not dismissed. … I view the people’s overwhelming choice of me as a mandate and their desire for a no-nonsense leadership style.”

She said voters sent a “clear and unequivocal message.”

Cotham tells me she thinks the situations are different, and that since Sanders got 40 percent of the vote, he should get about that percentage of the superdelegates.

She was right back in 2014. But if her 24 percent to 20 percent beating of Fuller was a clear message from voters, how much clearer is Clinton’s 55-41 beating of Sanders?

It appears how Cotham views the voters’ will hinges on whether she’s the one getting the most votes. – Taylor Batten

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