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School administrator captures Black’s seat
Tricia Cotham, 28, becomes youngest elected legislator

by Mark Smith

Tricia Cotham hopes to keep her job as an assistant principal at East Mecklenburg High while fulfilling her duties in the N.C. General Assembly.
CHARLOTTE — East Mecklenburg High’s Assistant Principal Tricia Cotham has handily won the seat vacated by former House Speaker Jim Black, who resigned from the legislature last month before accepting plea deals on corruption charges.

At 28, Cotham will become the state’s youngest legislator. She captured 23 of 32 votes in a special election held by Democratic party officials in House District 100. North Carolina Governor Mike Easley is expected to confirm her appointment later on this month.

“They want a new face for the Democratic Party,” Cotham said in a press conference. “And they want somebody who will play fair. And I’ll play fair.”

Cotham was up against a handful of other individuals who wanted Black’s seat — among them Lloyd Scher, Jack Flynn and Darrell Bonapart — who was thought by some to be the frontrunner in the race.No word from Bonapart as to whether he’ll challenge Cotham for the seat in 2008 — but Scher has already announced plans to do so.

Economic development, crime, transportation and education are at the core of Cotham’s priorities. Her family has a long history of involvement with Democratic politics in North Carolina — her father was the county Democratic chairman, her mother leads the Uptown Democratic Forum and her great-grandmother was involved in Harry Truman’s election campaign.

While attending The University of North Carolina-Charlotte, she helped plan several rallies for former Sen. (turned presidential candidate) John Edwards — and was later appointed as his first intern in Washington, D.C.

Cotham — like all the other prospects that vyed for Black’s seat — is supportive on LGBT equality issues.

She hopes to keep her job at East Mecklenburg while maintaining her house seat.
“I hope this will be a win-win situation for CMS and East Mecklenburg,” said Cotham.

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