© 2023 WFAE
90.7 Charlotte 93.7 Southern Pines 90.3 Hickory 106.1 Laurinburg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Democrats Sweep Mecklenburg County Commission For The First Time In 50 Years

File photos
Republicans Bill James (left), Jim Puckett and Matthew Ridenhour (right) all lost their seats on the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners Tuesday night.

Democratic newcomers unseated all three Republican incumbents on the Mecklenburg County Commission Tuesday to create the first all-Democrat county commission for the first time in a half-century.

Republicans Jim Puckett in District 1, Matthew Ridenhour in District 5 and Bill James in District 6 all lost their seats in Tuesday's election.

Democrats kept their lock on the three county-wide at-large seats as Commissioners Ella Scarborough, Trevor Fuller and Pat Cotham were easily re-elected. Republican Jeremy Brasch was a distant fourth in that race.   

The last time Democrats held all the seats was the 1964-66 term. At that time, the commission had only five seats.  

Elaine Powell, former chair of the county's Park & Recreation Commission, defeated Puckett with 56 percent of the vote in District 1, at the north end of the county. An outspoken conservative, Puckett has served five terms on the commission in two stints, from 2000 to 2006 and 2014 to 2018.

In south Charlotte's District 5, Susan B. Harden knocked off incumbent Republican Matthew Ridenhour, a former school board member who has been on the commission since 2012.

Susan Rodriguez McDowell defeated Bill James in the sixth district in south Charlotte, with nearly 52 percent of the vote. James, a conservative, has been a vocal member of the board for 22 years. McDowell, a graduate of both South Meck High School and UNC Charlotte, has worked as a Democratic precinct chair.

Another newcomer is Democrat Mark Jerrell, in the District 4 in East Charlotte. He was unopposed for the seat, which will become open upon the retirement of Democrat Dumont Clarke.  

Two other incumbent Democrats were unopposed Tuesday: Vilma Leake in District 2 and George Dunlap in District 3.

David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.