Mecklenburg County commissioners Monday night ousted chairman Trevor Fuller and picked fellow Democrat Ella Scarborough as the board's new leader. Scarborough won the job in a 5-4 vote in which Scarborough and fellow Democrat Pat Cotham sided with the board's three Republicans.
Fuller helped unseat Cotham when she was chair in 2013. On Monday, she returned the favor by backing Scarborough and working with the Republicans. Cotham didn't mention the past, saying only she felt it was time for new leadership.
"We need a chair and a vice chair who can bring people together and have experience with different levels of government. Diverse leadership with solid experience in other bodies of government, plus relationships with the legislature, will help us move forward," she said.
Cotham said Scarborough would be "more inclusive" and help the board be "more collaborative" on issues like jobs and affordable housing.
Scarborough is a former Charlotte City Council member and a longtime executive at Duke Energy. She has been on the county commission since 2014.
As part of the deal, the two Democrats joined Republicans in electing north Mecklenburg Republican Jim Puckett as vice chair.
Before the vote, Fuller gave what amounted to a farewell speech as the board's leader. There were moments of bitterness - he called the impending vote "treachery" and a "conspiracy." But he said he wouldn't let it tarnish his reputation.
"By any reasonable measure I have performed well in this job, with ability, honor and integrity," Fuller said. "Our board, under my leadership, has functioned well. We have been a stable board."
Among other things, Fuller said he brought attention to poverty by helping to form the Charlotte Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force. He said he will still be a leader on the board.
"I'm comforted that this vote that you'll see is not about my job, whether I did it well, not about that at all. It's about politics, and that's just the reality we face," he added.
The vote on new leaders followed a swearing-in ceremony for commissioners. The board holds its first meeting of the new term Tuesday night.