Monday, December 12, 2011

In 1980, first woman Meck chair was ousted

Former Mecklenburg County commissioner Liz Hair puts a historical spin on Jennifer Roberts' ouster last week as chair of the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners. It happened before - to Hair, who was the first female to serve on the county commission board in 1972 and became its first female chair two years later. Says Hair in Tuesday's Forum on the Opinion page, "I served six years as chair and top vote-getter, then was unseated by two Democratic, male board members (who wanted to be chairman). Both were defeated in the next election. Caveat emptor!"

Ah, the payback.

Look out, Harold Cogdell. Even the most recent other time a Democrat teamed with Republicans to oust a Democratic chair in 1997 brought defeat for the person colluding with the opposing party. Democrat Hoyle Martin joined forces with Republicans to dethrone Parks Helms for Republican Tom Bush. Martin, too, got the boot from voters a year later though he'd done so many crazy things as a member of the infamous "Gang of Five" his failed reelection bid could be attributed to any number of actions.

But Liz Hair's letter is a reminder of just how recent women began holding leadership roles in local politics in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Republican U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick became the first and so far only female mayor of Charlotte when she was elected in 1987 serving through 1991.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School board could be poised to elect a female chair. The last time a woman was elected to that chairman's job was in the 2009, when Molly Griffin got the nod. Before that it was Wilhelmenia Rembert in 2002. Newly-elected member Ericka Ellis-Stewart, a Democrat, was the top votegetter in the at-large race in November. Eric Davis, an independent, is current board chair. Tom Tate, a Democrat, is vice chair. Observers say the chair's job will go to one of the three. Democrats hold a 5-3 advantage (one seat is unfilled since District 6 representative won an at-large seat in November) so the edge seems to go to Tate or Ellis-Stewart in the voting Tuesday. But who knows?

Women have come a long way in Charlotte-Mecklenburg politics regardless. But if Roberts had held onto her chairman's job there would have been the rare possibility of having two of the top three local political leadership jobs held by a woman.

- Posted By Associate Editor Fannie Flono


Jim said...

"...if Roberts had held on to her chairman's job there would have been the rare possibility of having two of the top three local political leadership jobs held by a woman."

Yeah, and if the enrollees in CMS valued learning, serving on the BOE would be a walk in the park!

Jim said...

How about YOU commenting on what you perceive to be the issue, then, rather than attacking a comment (or commenter).

Veronica said...

Oh the humanity.

How telling about the Observer's bitter partisanship that they just cannot let go of this rather run-of-the-mill political maneuver by Cogdell.

If only the using of the property revals to sneak in a tax increase had received a fraction of the coverage this issue has.