MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. – Shortly, four new Mecklenburg County commissioners will take their oaths of office. The commissioners’ swearing-in will signal the start of a chapter our area hasn't seen, since the 1960s; a commission consisting of only Democrats.
Commissioner-elect Mark Jerrell (D), who will represent district 4, is not taking too many victory laps.
Jerrell says having a Democratic majority isn't what will ultimately serve the community, rather, understanding what the needs are, prioritizing those needs, and finding multiple ways to solve problems will be the key to success.
For Elaine Powell (D), who defeated incumbent Jim Puckett with 56-percent of the vote for district 1, she says she sees the county's effort to construct greenways and parks as one of their most pressing problems.
"If we don't address this now, the infrastructure, we will never catch up," Powell said.
One of the first things she also plans to push for is an environmental advisory commission.
But more controversial issues will also be waiting for the “freshmen four,” as they have dubbed themselves, within their first 100 days.
Take, for instance, next summer's property re-valuation.
"We're not going to just arbitrarily be out here like a bunch of cowboys screaming yaa-hoo, raise taxes, that's not the way it's going to work," Jerrell says.
District-5 commissioner-elect, Susan B. Harden, is already eyeing what will happen with the person who set the tone of the entire board, "I think one of the most impactful decisions that we'll make right off the bat is the selection of the chair of the board of county commissioners," Harden said. It's a spot currently held by at-large member Ella Scarborough.
Other commissioners, not just Scarborough, are said to be interested in the post that helps set the commission's agenda. "I don't think it's been decided who it's going to be yet,” Harden said. “...we'll be meeting and discussing. I'm open to anybody but it has to be someone who is willing to take a new direction and do things differently than they've been done," Harden added.
But these newly elected officials will certainly have many other challenging issues on their plates. For instance, funding Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools at a time when guns continue to make it onto campus.
"The problem is children who have access to firearms and children who don't have an adult to turn to when there is a problem," Harden said.
Commissioner-Jerrell says voters can rest assured they chose the right people for the task.
"We have a different approach in the way we approach issues and the way we deal with it and the thought process behind what the commission can do and can't do," he said
The Mecklenburg County Commissioners swearing-in ceremony is Monday at 6 at the Government Center in Uptown Charlotte.