Roberts reacts to recent turmoil on the Board - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Roberts reacts to recent turmoil on the Board

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Mecklenburg's Board of County Commissioners is meeting on Tuesday. All eyes will be on commissioners - after the last two meetings resulted in tense, emotional moments.

"I think emotions get high around difficult issues" says former Commissioner Jennifer Roberts. "Commissioners are human. They can't help it. They bring their perspectives with them - their human perspectives."

But one particular perspective jumped out during the meeting last Tuesday.

Commissioner Vilma Leake, who didn't like way another commissioner was talking to Chairwoman Pat Cotham, fired off an accusation of sexism.

WBTV asked Roberts - who was Chair of the Board five of the seven years she served - if female chairs face sexism.

"I don't know if you go as far as call it sexism" Roberts says. "I think there are different ways that men and women are treated in the business circles, in the political circles."

Roberts says during her time on the BOCC she saw both men and women on the receiving end of harsh words. 

She says the tougher the issue, and the more divided the community - the more emotional some commissioners get.

Roberts believes "everyone needs to be open to hearing diverse viewpoints, everyone needs to recognize there is some strains and tensions. It's a huge period of change right now. Change can be managed."

Commissioners have some tough decisions to make about county business, including whether to hire a consultant to help the Board recruit a new County Manager, and they also have to figure out and finalize the budget. 

"I think something like letting go of the county manager, budget sometimes, division on the commission in general - anytime you have a big issue in front of the commission, especially one that is not unanimous during the vote - those divisions linger" says Roberts.

The former Commissioner adds "people continue to line up with alliances. It continues to impact other issues."

But does it matter if the Chair of the Board is male or female?

"Sometimes it's a partisan thing, sometimes it's not" says Roberts. "Sometimes it's gender related, sometimes it's not. But I think they'll always be those turning point issues that redefine working relationships."

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