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Republicans Support Democrat Cogdell For Chairman

Jennifer Roberts and Harold Cogdell, Jr.

Jennifer Roberts and Harold Cogdell. Jennifer Roberts has been the chairman of the Mecklenburg County Commission for five years. But tonight that may change. Her fellow Democrat Harold Cogdell is challenging her for the seat. It appears the only support he has is from the board's four Republicans. But that's all he needs. Roberts was the top vote-getter in last year's election and, for that reason, she says she should be the one setting the board's agenda and running the meetings. "The person who heads up the organization should be the person who is supported by the most number of people because then you are responding to the vote of the people," says Roberts. But in a letter to commissioners last week, Cogdell said he wants to be board chairman. He said tradition has its place and Roberts has done a good job, but he says he has worked hard to earn the respect of all board members. He said having to do more with less must be a permanent mode for county government, not just one prompted by the recession. Democrats hold a 5-to-4 majority on the commission and Cogdell is often a swing vote. That's won him the support of Republican commissioner Karen Bentley. "Commissioner Cogdell is more moderate in his views and is likely, particularly from a fiscal management perspective, much more aligned with my beliefs," says Bentley. "I think we'll be well-served as Republicans on the board to have him in a chairmanship role." All of this may sound familiar because the same thing happened last year. Cogdell had the support of Republicans to become chairman. But at the last minute he withdrew his name after Roberts agreed to make Republican Jim Pendergraph vice chair.