By Fred Clasen-Kelly and April Bethea
Posted: Monday, Nov. 14, 2011

Jennifer Roberts

CHARLOTTE — Mecklenburg commissioners Chair Jennifer Roberts announced today she won’t seek re-election to the board next year.

Roberts, a Democrat who first joined the board in 2004, said she planned to serve as a commissioner for no more than eight years and that time is coming up.

“I want to encourage new leaders to step forward, to give them time to plan their campaign and their own quest for ensuring Mecklenburg County’s healthy future,” Roberts said today at an event in NoDa.

Roberts did not immediately announce plans to seek another office. But she said she has been in talks with state and national leaders about other positions, and would keep her campaign account open. “I am examining new opportunities for service, whether in the public, private or non-profit sector, and will chart the new path carefully and deliberately,” Roberts said.

Roberts’ speech

Read Jennifer Roberts’ full speech announcing her decision not to run for reelection at The Charlotte Observer‘s Paper Trail blog.

Roberts: Friend to LGBT community

During her nearly eight-year service to Mecklenburg County, Jennifer Roberts has been an outspoken supporter of the LGBT community. In 2009, favored extending medical and other benefits to same-sex domestic partners of county employees and later voted with five other commissioners to extend the benefits. Enrollment in the program began last fall. The Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee endorsed Roberts in each of her election campaigns.

— Matt Comer, qnotes

As a commissioner, Roberts has been a big advocate for environmental issues and support for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, among other causes. She referenced the county’s park and recreation system and improvements to the school district during her announcement today, and also praised Charlotte’s successful bid to bring the Democratic National Convention to town.

The current commissioners’ term ends in November 2012. Roberts said today she plans to make the next year “my most dedicated year ever.”

Roberts’ announcement means there could be at least two new faces on the board of county commissioners next year.

Vice Chair Jim Pendergraph said last week he was interested in running for a newly-created N.C. House seat if the state’s redistricting maps are approved.

Filing for the board of commissioners and several other offices opens Feb. 13.

Stay tuned for more on this developing story at

The Charlotte Observer

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