- Associated Press - Thursday, December 3, 2015

MATTHEWS, N.C. (AP) - A veteran North Carolina Democratic lawmaker says she’s not running next year in part so she can spend more time with her young children, to whom she gave birth to while in office.

State Rep. Tricia Cotham, R-Mecklenburg, announced her decision Thursday on her website and on social media. Her early use of Twitter made her a trailblazer among North Carolina politicians.

Cotham, 37, is a former school administrator married to previous state Democratic Party Chair Jerry Meek. They have two sons; the older one starts school next fall, according to Cotham’s announcement.

“It is important to me that I be home for him and many other milestones in my children’s lives,” Cotham wrote. “To that end, I must close this chapter of service in the General Assembly and start the next chapter of my life.”

She plans to serve out her two-year term through the end of 2016. Next year’s work session should end in the early summer.

Cotham joined the House in 2007, appointed to the seat vacated by former Speaker Jim Black when he entered plea agreements on federal and state corruption charges.

Cotham has focused on public education issues and those related to small business - she recently opened a Charlotte drop-in child care business. She at times was able to help pass bipartisan legislation as Republicans controlled the House. But she also spoke out against GOP policies related to abortion rules and what she considered deficient education funding.

Cotham is among but a couple of lawmakers in North Carolina history who gave birth while serving in the General Assembly. She believes she also helped break a glass ceiling in Raleigh.

“I hope other young women will hear the message that they too can serve and that we need them,” Cotham wrote.

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