Mecklenburg commissioner criticized for comments

  • Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2013 8:54 a.m.
    UPDATED: Thursday, June 27, 2013 11:59 a.m.

CHARLOTTE (AP) — A Mecklenburg County commissioner is being criticized after she said she would prefer that someone other than a white man be hired as county manager.

The Democratic vice chair of the commission, Kim Ratliff, told WBTV last week she would prefer commissioners not choose a white man. Ratliff is black.

Ratliff, who is black, said the county needs a manager who is “a nonwhite male who can have good working relations with all people.”

She told the station Monday she was standing by her statement, though she said she may not have used the best wording.

Ratliff told The Charlotte Observer on Wednesday her remarks were taken out of contest.

“I was saying I want all types of people to apply, not just white men. And black men,” she said. “We know they are going to apply. I want women to take a shot at it. We have a lot of women in leadership roles across the country. But a lot of times when positions come open, women are apprehensive about stepping up.

The commission is looking for a replacement for Harry Jones, who is black, who was fired May 7. Ratliff voted against firing Jones.

Republican Commissioner Bill James says it’s natural that people would be upset by Ratliff’s remarks.

“What Kim said is her opinion, and that would be fine if she was just sitting on the sidelines. But she’s a decision-maker. When you’re one of nine people making that decision and you automatically prejudge and don’t want someone of a particular race - a nonwhite male - you’re going to get people upset.”

James, who is white, has been criticized for some of his comments about urban blacks, immigrants and gays.

Ratliff said she doesn’t see any need to apologize, saying “whether this has been good or bad, it got the community engaged.”

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