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After Election Defeat, Bill James Says He Won't Attend Commission Meetings

Mecklenburg Republican Commissioner Bill James lost his re-election bid Tuesday.
County Commissioner Bill James hspace=4

Mecklenburg Republican Commissioner Bill James, who lost a re-election bid Tuesday, has told colleagues that he won't attend any more meetings before new commissioners are sworn in next month.

The commission has two more meetings scheduled before the swearing-in ceremony Dec. 3. It's customary for the defeated officials to finish their term and attend that final meeting.

Republican Commissioner Jim Puckett, who also was defeated Tuesday, said he spoke with James by phone.

"I think maybe he felt he shouldn't be weighing in on things before he leaves," Puckett said.

Puckett said he plans to attend the final meetings, even though he doesn't expect there to be any significant business on the agendas.

James, a Republican who has been on the commission for 22 years, was defeated Tuesday by Democrat Susan Rodriguez McDowell in District 6, which stretches from Steele Creek to Mint Hill. McDowell defeated James, 52 to 48 percent.

County spokesperson Danny Diehl said James has already been paid for the month and has not formally resigned.

James sent an e-mail to County Manager Dena Diorio after the election saying he wouldn't attend the final meetings.

"Won’t be there for the next several meetings," he wrote. "Need help boxing and moving all the junk in my office (as I suspect others do). Add my name plate from the dais to the pile.  If the new board ends up awarding me the Order of the Hornet – I won’t be there – just mail it to me."

James has served on the commission for 22 years. His colleagues have said he was a champion of transparent government, and that often asked hard questions about issues like the budget. He also was a skeptic of a plan last year to spend county money on a new soccer stadium for a proposed Major League Soccer team.

But James also has a history of making inflammatory comments about African-Americans and the LGBT community.

Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.