by: Jim Bradley Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Mecklenburg County Commission has had a reputation for long time as a bickering board. It happened again Tuesday night with a sort of political coup.
The result was Pat Cotham was out as chair. Trevor Fuller is in and there are new questions about leadership going forward.
Cotham, the board chair for a year, was voted out when five fellow Democrats backed Fuller, including Vilma Leake, who had until Tuesday night been a staunch Cotham supporter.
"I ask you, Pat, not to feel any degree of rejection," Leake said. "You're still here with us."
The push for new leadership had been building quietly. Cotham angered some African-American commissioners when she pushed for the firing last spring of long-time county manager Harry Jones, who is also black.
Tensions only increased when she appointed a four-member search committee to find a new manager that kept other commissioners, including a frustrated Fuller, out of the process.
Fuller said he wants to bring a new style of leadership to the county.
"My hope is that as a result of this change we will have a clearer and coherent direction," Fuller said.
Cotham said she's paying the price for making tough decisions, but she insists she's not going anywhere.
"I was attacked constantly as the chair and I took it," Cotham said.
Cotham said she had a feeling she'd be voted out Tuesday night and so she didn't pull into her normal parking space that's reserved for the board chair.
She was right. That parking space now belongs to Fuller.
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