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VOTE411 Voter Guide

Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners At-Large {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

The 9-member Board sets the policy for the county, determining the strategic vision for the county, appoints a county manager, attorney and others to serve the county. The Board's primary responsibilities are to adopt an annual budget, set a property tax rate and establish priorities to address the County's needs, especially in the areas of health, education, welfare and mental health. Six members are elected by districts and three are elected at-large every 4 years.

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  • Candidate picture

    Leigh Altman
    (Dem)

  • Candidate picture

    Patricia (Pat) Cotham
    (Dem)

  • Ella Scarborough
    (Dem)

Biographical Information

What do you think makes you the best candidate for this office?

What is the most important issue the County Commission will have to address in the next two years?

What kinds of policies, if any, will you pursue to promote social and racial equality in the county?

How would you rate Mecklenburg’s public education system?

If you rated it below excellent, what proposals would you support to improve it?

Would you support an increase in the local supplement for teachers and staff, even if the state does not give one next year?

Please explain

Are there policies you believe can be enacted that would improve the economy of Mecklenburg in the next two years?

How would you rate the access to healthcare services your county is providing?

How would you rate the quality of healthcare services your county is providing?

If you rated them less than excellent, what can the commission do to improve things?

Age (optional) 47
Contact Phone (704) 763-2856
Twitter @leighaltman
YouTube video
Position/philosophy statement We must fight for our values of inclusion, diversity, and lifting up all our community’s children.
Throughout my 17 year career as a public-interest attorney, I have fought to protect kids and families, and I've gotten results. I have obtained justice for individuals who had been defrauded including a landmark $21 million verdict on behalf of 18,000 victims of mail fraud. I've been successful in fighting on behalf of individuals facing housing discrimination. As a guardian ad litem and as an attorney for children, I ensured that the needs of seniors, adults with disabilities, and at-risk children were safeguarded. I have also taken on leadership roles in the community. As a precinct chair, I worked to register and turn out voters. I have also been active as an advocate for neighborhood revitalization with Habitat Humanity Charlotte and supporting high-quality programs that serve our at-risk youth as the attorney representative on Mecklenburg's Juvenile Crime Prevention Council. Last, I am the mother of 3 children attending CMS schools and have a deep personal stake in public school education. With a $1.9 billion budget for all of our essential human services that serve a population of over 1 million people, the stakes could not be higher for good leadership on the County Commission. My professional and community experiences in the issues at hand make me ready to serve on day one.
Rebuilding our community from the impacts of COVID is number one. Our children have lost critical instruction time. Many small businesses have not survived the shutdown. Our unemployment numbers are very high. Many more people lack secure housing. The pandemic has laid bare health inequities, environmental inequities, and more. We need to tackle all these issues, and I am particularly focused on workforce development as key to raising household wealth for our residents.
I will commit to using a racial equity lens on every vote I cast to ensure that we are working towards building a just community. I also pledge to use my platform to raise awareness about racial equity in every corner of the County. The County should expand universal access to pre-K so all kids can enter school ready to learn and reach their full potential. I will support policies that ensure we have equity in the placement of parks and greenways. The County must ensure there are no food deserts and that our residents have access to critical healthcare services, including mental health. I will hold accountable our law enforcement agencies and support programs that invest in people.
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1. Continuing to fund and expand pre-K so all our children can enter school ready to learn and have the chance to reach their full academic potential. 2. Breaking up pockets of poverty so that all our children can benefit from learning in a resource-rich environment. Expanding access to mental health services in our schools. 3. Ensuring discipline policy is trauma-informed and reflective of the role that toxic stress brought on by poverty and racism plays in the lives of so many of our residents. 4. Ending racial inequities in outcomes for our CMS students.
Support
As the product of public schools and the mother of three CMS students, I am wholly invested in the success of our county schools.

It is critical that our state government in Raleigh appropriately fund public education. While the County cannot completely fill the void if state lawmakers do not act, I will do everything within my power to support Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
The most urgent issue facing the county is the need to get people back to work and raise wages for our economically-disadvantaged residents, as stagnating wages and poverty impact everything from affordable housing, to healthcare, to crime, and every other quality of life issue. We must scale up collaboration between government, industry, and CMS to ensure that we are preparing our young adults (and re-training underemployed adults) for the thousands of good jobs available in our County in tech, trades, and healthcare.
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Many of our residents lack adequate access to healthcare. Indeed, COVID has revealed the extent to which this disproportionally affects communities of color, and this is a tragedy. The responsibility for providing healthcare largely lies with state and federal officials who have refused to support Medicaid expansion and who have undermined the reach and scope of Obamacare. While the County cannot completely fill the void of these failures, I will do everything within my power to maximize our residents' access to county healthcare services, including mental health and women's reproductive health.
Age (optional) 69
Contact Phone (704) 506-3056
email address patcotham@gmail.com
Twitter @patcothammeck
Position/philosophy statement . I work for you; I stand-up for the people, even if I stand alone.
All I can tell you is what the people tell me. They repeatedly say, "you have common sense, I see you everywhere, you stand-up for the people, you ask the best questions, you answer tough questions and you get things done." I go deep into issues to better understand. For example , I go to court often so I can better understand the issues that people face, I notice how people with a mental health problem are treated differently. I spend many nights uptown with our homeless neighbors to better understand what they face everyday. I talk to developers and contactors to hear the obstacles they face to build lower income housing. I call attention to issues often by my presence.
Some of the hardest issues we have faced have come up without any notice so I can't answer this question with any specificity. However, I am hoping for a big issue to help with housing for the people earning 30% of the average medium income. I hope for a big debate with our Legislators to push them to increase funding for our schools, courts and the expansion of Medicaid. I think the most important issue is learning more about the complexities of these issues so we can hopefully solve them.
It is hard to feel equal if one if sleeping on the streets. Addressing the housing shortfall issue would go a long way to calm the ripple effect of homelessness. Most of the people in the court system are African American and they are not getting justice because of their race and economics. WE have to advocate harder to our legislators.
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I have always supported more funding for the schools and teachers. But after eight years of interacting with CMS, I realize the complexity of our relationship. We are not on the School Board so we can't propose specific policies or tell them what to do or not do. The Legislators make the laws and we have to abide by them. The School Board often keeps to themselves so we don't know what is happening and that is their right. We also never talk about the 4500 CMS children who are homeless. That is probably a good starting point. Many children need more services from the county. Teachers often feel afraid to speak-up. We are not the enemy of CMS but often they seem to portray us that way.
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They deserve it.
Investing in Education and career training for veterans and adults would be helpful. WE have untapped resource of so many retired business people who could be mentors to adults, teens and small businesses. A partnership with the city and towns would be helpful.
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We have made great strides at the Health Department in recent years. Our Village Heartbeat Program has been nationally recognized and is making a difference in the African American community. Our PreP program to prevent HIV is gaining prominence in the LGBT community and we are making improvements to reduce HIV virus. We support many non-profits who working with young mothers, seniors, disabled and mentally ill. I worry we are not doing enough with violence in the home with children under six. That group seems to be expanding but I worry about those children who have experienced trauma-how will it affect them? Studies say they could become aggressive toward others. The state has taken over so much of /mental health but I am proud we are still supporting some groups who help those "who have fallen between the cracks." I hope it becomes a bigger priority for the county
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