The certified election results show Democrat Ellen Frost with a 13-vote edge over Republican Christina Kelley G. Merrill in the District 2 Buncombe County commissioners race, giving Democrats a slight majority of seats on the seven member board.
Republican Mike Fryar maintained his position in first place and Democratic incumbent Carol Peterson was still in fourth. It proved to be one of the closest races for the board of commissioners in recent memory, with only 123 votes separating all four candidates.
The unofficial election results released on the evening of Nov. 6 had Merrill with a 87-vote edge over Frost. But that tally didn’t include a number of absentee and provisional ballots that the Board of Elections determined should legally be counted when it met to certify the final results on Nov. 16.
However, Merrill has already indicated she plans to request a recount, which would be automatically granted because her margin of loss is less than 1 percent of the total. That’s likely to take a couple of weeks, according to officials from the county’s Election Services Department.
Merrill has also retained a lawyer, and it’s possible she could opt to take legal action disputing some of the votes included in the final tally from residents of Warren Wilson College. During the Nov. 16 deliberations, her lawyer officially filed complaints challenging the legality of ballots cast by several of the college’s residents, who the department determined lived in District 2 after much of the early voting period had already passed.
Under the new election system for the commissioners this year, the top vote-getter in each district wins a four-year term and the second place finisher wins a two-year term. The certified results continue to show clear wins for Democrats Holly Jones and Brownie Newman in District 1 and Republicans Joe Belcher and David King in District 3. Incumbent Democrat David Gantt won another term as chair.
The Buncombe County Board of Elections announced the following certified District 2 election results at about 2 a.m. on the morning of Nov. 17:
Mike Fryar 19,993 votes
Ellen Frost 19,904 votes
Christina Kelley G. Merrill 19,891 votes
Carol Peterson 19,870 votes
The previous unofficial results released by the Board of Elections on election night, Nov. 6 were:
Mike Fryar 19,904 votes
Christina Kelley G. Merrill 19,806 votes
Ellen Frost 19,719 votes
Carol Peterson 19,701 votes