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After her switch to GOP, Tricia Cotham helped hometown Mint Hill secure millions in state budget

State Rep. Tricia Cotham of Mecklenburg County helped the town of Mint Hill get a number of special appropriations in the state budget.
Steve Harrison/WFAE
State Rep. Tricia Cotham of Mecklenburg County helped the town of Mint Hill get a number of special appropriations in the state budget.

In Mecklenburg County, there is one clear winner in the state’s $30 billion budget: Mint Hill.

While the town has fewer than 27,000 residents, it’s home to state Rep. Tricia Cotham, who switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party this spring.

That gave the GOP a veto-proof supermajority in the House — and Cotham clout in her new party.

And that’s reflected in the new state budget.

The town of Mint Hill’s police department is getting $750,000, and the town is getting $16 million for a new community center.

And that’s not all: The Mint Hill Athletic Association is getting $1.3 million and the Mint Hill Chamber of Commerce is getting $75,000 for leadership training. The Mint Hill Historical Society is getting $150,000.

When asked whether Cotham made all that happen for the town, Mint Hill Mayor Brad Simmons laughed and said: “You worded that so finely, you must be an elected official.”

He added: “We shared many times with Rep. Cotham, several times before budget time of some of our long-term projects. Without being in the room, she absolutely helped us.”

Cotham’s House district includes Mint Hill, which is one of the most conservative parts of Mecklenburg County. But most of the voters live in heavily Democratic east Charlotte.

When Cotham won the seat last year as a Democrat, most of her votes came from east Charlotte.

The General Assembly is going to draw new legislative maps this fall. It’s likely Mint Hill will be Cotham’s political base should she make a run for reelection to the House or try for another office.

The city of Charlotte — which has nearly 900,000 people — did get $20 million for a new tennis center that could be built west of the airport. That was the only time the city appeared in the budget for a special appropriation.

All members of the General Assembly from the city are Democrats.

Other Charlotte-based organizations did receive funding, such as money for one new job at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market. The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Association received a grant of $100,000 and the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance received $200,000.

Habitat for Humanity of the Charlotte Region also received $200,000.

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Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.