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Some Mecklenburg commissioners want webcams turned on during meetings



CHARLOTTE, NC Local Charlotte News – There’s a conflict brewing within the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners, and it is all surrounding whether or not they keep their webcams on during virtual meetings. Commissioner Laura Meier suggested the board adopt an official policy of keeping their webcams on after a voting incident that happened recently.

“We had a questionable vote a few weeks ago, we weren’t sure who actually voted,” Meier said.

The vote came from Commissioner Ella Scarborough’s mic, but it was obvious to the rest of the board that it wasn’t her voice. Since Scarborough’s camera was off no one could confirm it wasn’t her that said “aye”.

“With COVID, I think it’s pretty clear that we’re going to be off and on off and on the virtual and in-person meetings and I think we just have to go with the flow. And if we’re virtual, we have to be just like we are in person visible to all the residents of Mecklenburg County,” Meier said.

But Commissioner Vilma Leake completely disagrees. Leake and Scarborough are the only two on the board that doesn’t have their mics on during the meetings.

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“I’m accountable to the residents, not to a commissioner. I’m not responsible to her. Nor is she responsible to me. So she can’t tell me what to do. I’m responsible to the people who elected me to office and she’s in district five. And I’m in district two,” Leake said in reference to Meier.

Leake said Mecklenburg County requiring commissioners to keep their webcams on is government overreach and threatened a lawsuit. Leake also cited safety concerns with having her webcam on in her home and the public seeing where she lives.

“I’m a single black woman. And I’ve received many mean threatening letters that I’ve turned over to the police department,” Leake said.

But Meier said it all comes down to transparency.

“We have got to promote confidence in government. I think that the public deserves to see the people they voted for on camera. They see us in meetings, so I think it should be the same we should be seeing on the camera,” Meier said.

The board will discuss the potential policy again on October 19th, Meier is hoping it will come to a vote.

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