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Charlotte Area News

Roberts Is Mecklenburg Board Chair And Pendergraph Vice Chair

Mecklenburg County has a new county commission, but not a new chairman. In an unexpected twist last night, Cogdell asked not to be considered for chairman and commissioners voted unanimously for Democrat Jennifer Roberts to fill that position. Republican Jim Pendergraph became Vice Chairman. This was not how the meeting was expected to end, with Roberts in smiles, letting bygones be bygones. Roberts had figured her fellow Democrat Harold Cogdell would get the support of Republicans and walk away as chairman, even though traditionally that position would go to her as top vote-getter. In exchange, she thought Cogdell would be the swing vote to elect Republican Jim Pendergraph as Vice Chairman. For awhile that appeared to be how the meeting was playing out. A vote to elect Roberts as chairman failed without the support of Cogdell and the Republicans. And then Republican Karen Bentley nominated Cogdell for chairman and Pendergraph for vice chairman. Democrat George Dunlap and had a few choice words for Cogdell. "There's a difference between leadership and leverage," said Dunlap. But before a vote could happen, Cogdell spoke up. "What I'm willing to do is I'm willing to support Commissioner Roberts for chairman," said Cogdell. He said he was disappointed with insinuations that he made backroom deals to secure the chairmanship. He said it was never about him being chairman. "Ultimately, at the end of the day it seemed like I was the swing vote on this because everything comes down to partisan politics. That was the point I was trying to make in this whole example," said Cogdell. "I'm sick and damned tired of partisan politics. Because what is happening is that people aren't communicating anymore. People aren't talking anymore." Cogdell didn't do much of that himself over the past few days as word got out that he may be angling to be chairman. Roberts says she called him repeatedly to ask what was going on, but never got a response. "I feel a little bamboozled," laughed Roberts. "I just want to say in the future when you have a very ingenious idea of a way to get me to be bi-partisan, please just call me back. You can just say I'm working on something, trust me." Commissioners ended up voting unanimously for Roberts as Chairman and Pendergraph as Vice Chairman. Afterward, Cogdell refused to answer any reporters' questions.