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.