Who will govern Buncombe County’s 665.99 square miles and 222,174-and-growing population for the next four years?
Six Republicans and eight Democrats are contending for four seats on the five-member Board of Commissioners in the May 6 primary. (The chairmanship is not at issue in the primary, because only Democrat David Gantt has filed to run against Republican incumbent Nathan Ramsey.) The winners will square off in the Nov. 4 general election.
As a Buncombe County voter, your job is to pick your four favorites among the Republicans or Democrats jockeying to advance to the general election. Unaffiliated voters may choose either ballot in the primary.
To help you make those choices, Mountain Xpress presents our 2008 Primary Voter Guide, which gives background information about the candidates along with their answers to 10 key questions. (Note: Although Democrat J. Ray Elingburg‘s name will still appear on the primary ballot, he has withdrawn from the race and so is not included in our grid. Also, Xpress was unable to get answers from Republican Ron McKee, who’s been traveling out of the country and could not be reached. And though several candidates declined to provide information about their campaign finances, referring Xpress to the Election Services Web site (www.buncombecounty.org/governing/depts/election), at press time, that information was not available. The deadline for candidates to file a campaign-finance report was April 28; check the Web site for current information.
The rest of the ballot
Besides the county commissioner candidates, a number of other races will be represented on the primary ballot: president, U.S. Senate, U.S. Congress 11th District, governor, lieutenant governor, superintendent of public instruction, plus two nonpartisan seats on the Court of Appeals.
Be careful! The Democratic primary ballot has two sides; the Republican ballot has only one side. Sample ballots are available on the Election Services Web site.
Going to vote
After you’ve sifted through the candidates’ answers, the next step—a particularly popular one this election season—is actually voting. Early voting has been pulling in high numbers, according to the State Board of Elections. The first five days of one-stop voting, which began April 17, brought in some 45,429 ballots statewide (compared with 7,688 during that five-day period in the 2006 primary).
Thanks to changes in the law, nonregistered citizens can simultaneously register and vote during the early voting period, which ends at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 3.
In Buncombe County, the early voting locations are: Asheville Senior Opportunity Center (36 Grove St.); Biltmore Square Mall; the Election Services Office (189 College St. in Asheville); Carver Community Center (101 Carver Ave. in Black Mountain); Weaverville Town Hall; and the Fairview, Leicester, North Asheville, South Buncombe and West Asheville libraries.
After May 3, all roads lead to regular precinct voting around the county on Tuesday, May 6, and to vote on that day, you must have been registered by April 11. To find your precinct location, check the Election Services Web site or call 250-4200.
If you requested an absentee ballot by the deadline (5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 29), your completed ballot must be received by the Buncombe County Election Services no later than 5 p.m. on Monday, May 5.