Buncombe political races packed with personalities

All eyes may be on this year’s presidential contest, but it’s the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners race that has brought local personalities into the spotlight.

The filing period closed Feb. 29, with no less than 15 people duking it out for four seats on the board. The contenders include a monthly newspaper editor, both a current and a past Asheville City Council member, a former community-college president and the former general manager of a minor-league baseball team.

Nine of the candidates are Democrats: Commissioners Carol Peterson and Bill Stanley; Vernon Dover, a retired Progress Energy official; J. Ray Elingburg, a former county clerk of court; K. Ray Bailey, retired president of A-B Tech; Robert E. “Bob” Hill of Candler; Asheville City Council member Holly Jones; local businessman Keith Thomson; and Asheville City Paper News Editor Cecil Bothwell.

The other six are Republicans: local real-estate broker John Carroll, former Asheville City Council member Joe Dunn; Michael Fryar, a key player in last year’s Let Asheville Vote effort; Ron McKee, part owner and former general manager of the Asheville Tourists; vocal local-government critic and Carolina Stompers member Don Yelton; and local businessman Steve Bledsoe, who ran unsuccessfully for City Council last year.

For board chair, incumbent Nathan Ramsey, a Republican, will face off against current Commissioner David Gantt, a Democrat.

Buncombe County has three state House seats. Rep. Susan Fisher, a Democrat, is running unopposed in District 114. Rep. Bruce Goforth, a Democrat, faces a challenge from Republican newcomer Paul Purdue in District 115. Democrat Jane Whilden will compete with Republican Tim Moffitt to represent District 116. Rep. Charles Thomas, a first-term Republican, decided not to seek re-election in that race.

In state Senate District 49, Sen. Martin Nesbitt, a Democrat, faces Republican challenger R.L. Clark, who held the seat from 1995 to ‘98.

Register of Deeds Otto DeBruhl, a Democrat who has held the post for more than three decades, is running unopposed.

Here’s a list of upcoming key dates

• Friday, April 11: Last day to register to vote or change party affiliation before the primary

• Thursday, April 17: Early voting for primary begins

• Tuesday, April 29: Last day to request an absentee ballot by mail

• Saturday, May 3: Early voting ends at 1 p.m

• Tuesday, May 6: Primary election. Voters will narrow the field to four Democrats and four Republicans for commissioner

• Tuesday, Nov. 4: General election

Source: Buncombe County Board of Elections.

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3 thoughts on “Buncombe political races packed with personalities

  1. We need to quickly and extensively research these people to find out where they stand, and voted, on issues. I’m looking for hardcore zoning opposition for affordable housing and have found this on John Carrol:
    http://www.ashevilledailyplanet.com/index.php?id=897&option=com_content&task=view
    plus his support for the Woodfin peak power plant which Bothwell says was going to include housing.
    Yelton has been clearly antizoning, but here’s a link:
    http://www.citizensspeak.com

    The positions and voting records of local candidates is by far the most underreported subject in media. MTX does far more than most, but still nowhere near enough. The candidates don’t want to tell you where they stand and neither does the corpo-media, so getting the info is like pulling teeth. We MUST REASEARCH NOW because time is very short!

  2. Cecil Bothwell

    For the record:
    I have never said the Woodfin power plant “was going to include housing.”

    What I have pointed out is that the Progress Energy lease included the language “for any purpose.” Progress Energy is a development company as well as a utility. “Any purpose” could have included housing, industrial uses or dumping of coal ash from the Lake Julian plant. Fortunately, vocal opposition from area residents embarrassed the company into dropping both its proposed plant and the lease.

  3. OK, I accept that the exact quote at the DFA meeting was somewhere beween our versions. I believe you (Bothewll) said “might” or “could likely” include perhaps “residential development.”

    Her also is Bothwell’s response to my questions. I should have asked about FY2010 budgets for which candidates could set tax rates and will modify my questions, consider that asked here and now as well of all candidates. I also need to research current budgets and word counts for comparison. I do believe there is a real issue with the sheer quantity of laws which could be expressed in pages as in the 15 foot tall Internal Revenue Code, or words or kilobytes or whatever.
    http://www.municode.com/resources/gateway.asp?sid=33&pid=12776

    Bothwell’s response (this time quoted with computerized accuracy):

    >
    > Are you for repealing zoning in Buncombe? No.
    > Limestone? No.
    > Beaverdam? No.
    > How many words should the Buncombe subdivision ordinance contain?
    > Meaningless question.
    > How many words should the Buncombe County Code of Ordinances
    > contain? Meaningless question.

    Candidates for 2008 have no control over the FY 2009 budget, so the
    following questions are entirely hypothetical.
    I believe we need to recognize that sales tax receipts are not going
    to meet previous expectations, given the incipient recession, and that
    budgets will very likely need to either hold at current levels or be
    reduced. In response to the probable shortfalls, I would reduce the
    budget of the county administrator and sharply reduce the budget for
    economic development which seem to benefit few at the expense of many.

    >
    > What should the FY 2009 County Public School budget be in dollars?
    > And I
    > do expect an exact number before the primary. $50,650,000 (exclusive
    > of city schools, for which add $7,640,000)
    > What should the FY 2009 county health budget be? Health Center?
    > $20,700,000
    > What should the fy2009 county conservation budget be? $500,000
    > What should the fy2009 county Planning and Zoning budget be?
    > $3,000,000

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