Mecklenburg Co. commissioner Cooksey dies
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CHARLOTTE -- Mecklenburg County Commissioner Neil Cooksey has died.
Cooksey, 50, who served southern Mecklenburg County’s District Five since 2008 was battling pancreatic cancer.
In May 2008, Cooksey began his journey in public service as he watched the winning primary results come in with then outgoing District Five board member Dan Bishop, who decided not to seek another term.
"It just gave me a whole lot of confidence that I have the right message and that my political philosophy was resounding with the voters," he said.
As Cooksey prepared to take office, he reflected on Bishop's backing and loyalty.
"Dan's endorsement of me has meant a great deal," he said.
After taking office in late 2008, Cooksey quickly established a reputation as a straight shooter, making sure county tax dollars were being spent wisely.
“We’ve got to get out of this thought process that the county is the last gasp resort," said Cooksey.
In late 2009, he and the board dealt with several legal and ethical controversies involving the department of social services and the local ABC board.
In 2010, the Republican announced he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but he continued to serve and was re-elected that year.
In late 2011, Cooksey announced he wouldn’t run for a third term in order to spend more time with his family.
But Cooksey continued to serve until the very end, including the most recent county budget debate.
“In order for CMS to get what it needs, it just needs to work the system," said Cooksey.
Although Cooksey said he was cancer free, he announced in late June he was dealing with complications and was entering hospice care.
In an emotional appearance on July 3, Cooksey appeared before his colleagues and said he was honored to serve his district and his county.
“I hope you guys have a productive meeting,” he told them.
He attended one final meeting in August and was honored by his colleagues.
"You brought a voice of reason, a voice of balance, a voice of critical eye," said Commissioner Jennifer Roberts.
Cooksey leaves behind a wife and three children. His family released a statement this afternoon saying: "He is now at peace, in heaven. No words will ever be adequate to thank the legions of people that have supported our precious family during this time. We are humbled by the outpouring of love."