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Meck Commissioners Appoint Fuller As Chair In Heated Session

Ben Bradford

The new session for the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners kicked off Monday evening, but it was old divisions that dominated the meeting—starting with the election of the board’s chairman.

Five of the nine commissioners voted to re-elect chairman Trevor Fuller, over the other candidate, Pat Cotham.

Cotham was chairman in 2013, and—as the top vote-getter in last month’s election—the traditional pick to regain the job. But she alienated the board’s other Democrats in her last stint as chair, after publicly firing long-time county manager Harry Jones and siding with Republicans. They ousted her for Fuller.

Her campaign to take the job back very publicly reopened that rift. And after Fuller’s appointment last night, it led to some fireworks, started by Cotham.

“Bickering, berating, and bullying solves nothing. The people deserve better,” Cotham said.

She was referring, she said later, in particular to Commissioner George Dunlap, who called her a snitch on Facebook, and Commissioner VilmaLeake, who the Charlotte Observer quoted as calling her a liar.

But, in what would be a theme for the night, Cotham also called for commissioners to work together. Every commissioner spoke of conciliation in general terms, while avoiding any specific offers or apologies.

“I say this in earnesty [sic]. We better come together. We better work together,” said Commissioner Leake.

Cotham’s supporters held signs saying “Pat 4 Chair” and “Respect the Voters.”

When his turn came, Chairman Fuller appealed to them, downplaying the importance of the chairmanship to those who need county help.

“Do you really think they care who the chairman of the county commission is?” He asked.

The crowd answered that question loudly enough to disrupt the meeting and force Fuller to call for order.