Mecklenburg primary means loss of commission ally

Two incumbents move forward, Ratliff comes in last

Ratliff

Ratliff

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Tuesday’s primary election results means at least one LGBT ally on the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners won’t be returning to office next term.

Five Democrats battled it out in their at-large primary yesterday. Only three will advance to November’s general election: former City Councilmember Ella Scarborough garnered 23 percent of the vote, former commission Chair Pat Cotham had 22 percent and current Chair Trevor Fuller carried 20 percent.

Two other candidates, newcomer Elaine Powell and incumbent Kim Ratliff carried 17 percent.

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All the candidates had been endorsed by the Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee (MeckPAC).

Ratliff, in particular, had been a strong supporter of the LGBT community and a leading voice for inclusion, pushing the adoption of a transgender-inclusive non-discrimination policy for the county last year.

The move to include gender identity and expression wasn’t without controversy. Though the measure passed 6-3 — along party lines — even some Democrats on the board questioned the measure’s definitions and need.

But, Ratliff also stirred controversy, coming under fire when she told WBTV last July the county’s next manager should be “someone who is not a white male.”

At the time, Ratliff had said she wanted “someone who is diverse – hopefully someone outside of North Carolina would be ideal for me,” and telling The Charlotte Observer her comments had been misunderstood.

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Her intentions, she told the daily newspaper, weren’t meant to exclude white men from process.

“I was saying I want all types of people to apply, not just white men. And black men,” Ratliff said. “We know they are going to apply. I want women to take a shot at it. We have a lot of women in leadership roles across the country. But a lot of times when positions come open, women are apprehensive about stepping up.

“I will support the next county manager, whoever it is,” she added.

In a second commission primary, incumbent Vilma Leake easily defeated challenger Dondhi Burrell. She carried 81 percent of the vote to his 19 percent. Both candidates had been endorsed by MeckPAC.

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Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.