Jim Black Elected Speaker of N. C. House

January 27, 1999

When Jim Black, an optometrist and Democratic representative from Matthews, was elected Speaker of the House, it gave Mecklenburg County as much power in the state's General Assembly as it has ever had.

The last speaker from this county was in 1925. Since, politicians from mostly rural eastern North Carolina have more or less run politics at the state level. Charlotte and Mecklenburg, with urban issues that some claim are vastly different from the rest of the state, has earned the derisive nickname The Great State of Mecklenburg.

The Speaker of the House, traditionally chosen from the party that controls the General Assembly, is a very powerful position in North Carolina. The speaker shapes the House agenda, appoints powerful committees, and presides over debate.
Although Charlotte still has plenty of run-ins with state government, Black's presence has ensured that the county always has a seat at the table.