© 2024 WFAE
90.7 Charlotte 93.7 Southern Pines 90.3 Hickory 106.1 Laurinburg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

In Mecklenburg state House race, Democrats are focused on defeating Tricia Cotham

Terry Lansdell, Nicole Sidman and Yolanda Holmes are running for NC House seat 105.
Steve Harrison
Terry Lansdell, Nicole Sidman and Yolanda Holmes are running for NC House seat 105.

The three Democrats running for Mecklenburg’s House District 105 met at a forum in Matthews on Thursday, with much of the discussion focusing on the woman they want to beat in November: Republican Tricia Cotham, whose switch from being a Democrat last year still haunts her old party.

Cotham’s defection gave the GOP a super-majority in the General Assembly, allowing Republicans to push through their legislation, including a ban on most abortions after 12 weeks.

The first question in the forum asked the three candidates: “How will the voters know if they are a Democrat-in-name-only?”

Terry Lansdell, Yolanda Holmes and Nicole Sidman said they are true Democrats — and said they will be hyper-focused on defeating Cotham.

In terms of policy, there wasn’t much difference between the three candidates. They all said they wanted to break the Republican supermajority in the General Assembly; pass legislation to make it easier for women to have an abortion; make it more difficult to buy guns; and roll back laws that they say negatively impact the LGBT community.

The three were also asked how much money they had raised.

Sidman works at Temple Beth El and ran Democrat Christy Clark’s successful 2018 state House win over John Bradford in north Mecklenburg. She said she’s raised $40,000 in six weeks.

“We all wish campaigns were not about money. It’s not true, though. It really costs a lot of money,” she said. “I know what it takes. It takes knocking on doors and meeting voters and calling voters. And those things also take money. So it’s going to take a lot of money to beat Tricia Cotham. She didn’t flip without a promise of a big support network.”

Lansdell, the executive director of BikeWalk NC, said he’s not actively seeking donations.

Holmes, who narrowly lost to Cotham in the Democratic primary in 2022, works in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ family and community engagement office. She said her campaign strategy is a secret, though she later said she’s raised a few thousand dollars.

“Our campaign has been very diligent and strategic, and we have been very secretive in our strategy and will remain that as much,” Holmes said.

Cotham doesn’t have a primary opponent, so the winner of the Democratic primary on March 5 is guaranteed to face her in the general election this fall. The district is a toss-up and includes Mint Hill, Matthews and parts of south Charlotte.

Cotham was elected in 2022 to a Democratic-leaning district that included Mint Hill and much of east Charlotte.

In response to a question about voting rights, Holmes said she would “make our voters aware, the things that are transcending and are happening. Power does not lie in Raleigh. It lies with us.”

Lansdell said he would “support every effort to allow for more voting opportunities to everyone. We need the majority. House 105 needs to be Democratic. 104 needs to be Democratic. We need to make sure that if and when that happens that we have a fair and equitable voting structure.”

Sidman said her strategy is to “stop, flip and flight.”

“The first thing we have to do is stop the super-majority,” she said. “We must give (the governor) the veto back. Once we do that, then we can focus on flipping the house. We can not control the maps, we can’t control the votes until we start drawing redistricting plans.”

She said she would support a bipartisan commission to draw political maps.

Sign up for our weekly politics newsletter

Select Your Email Format

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.