ASHEVILLE N.C. –With the hard-fought primary now behind them, some Buncombe County candidates can breathe a sigh of relief, while for others the hard work is only beginning.
The overall number of votes cast, 30,119, was higher by about 2,500 in the county than in the last non-presidential primary in 2014. Percentage-wise though, that only amounts to an increase from 15.01 percent to 15.75 percent turnout compared to 2014 because there are 7,173 more registered voters now. That’s according to unofficial primary results from the State Board of Elections.
In what is potentially the most decisive race of the Buncombe Democratic primary, incumbent Todd Williams managed to fend off a full-court press offensive from well-supported challenger Ben Scales. While Williams received nearly 60 percent of the early votes cast in the county, as precincts reported his lead shrank to just five and a half percentage points. In the 2014 election, after Williams unseated incumbent Ron Moore, Scales ran as an independent. Such a challenge could take place again, but with no Republican running, for now at least, it appears Williams will get a second term.
The Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department will see new leadership this December. Change candidate Quentin Miller, an Asheville Police Department sergeant, has come out with a majority result in a five-way race for the Democratic nomination, claiming nearly 54 percent of the vote. In his campaign, Miller has stated a desire to change the mindset of deputies “from that of warriors to that of guardians; from that of being intimidators to that of being protectors.”
Randy Smart, Sheriff Van Duncan’s endorsed choice for successor, raised the most money, but came up short on votes, getting the second-most at 24 percent. Smart was trailed by R. Daryl Fisher, who got 14 percent of the vote. Chris Winslow claimed 5 percent and Rondell Lance brought up the rear with just over 3 percent.
Miller will go on to face Republican Shad Higgins and Libertarian Tracey “Phoenix” Debruhl in the fall.
Meanwhile in the Republican primary for N.C. House District 115, Amy Evans only narrowly defeated Nathan West 1066 votes to 986. West had previously told Mountain Xpress he had ceased campaigning and was throwing his support behind his opponent. Evans will take on incumbent John Ager this November for the seat.
Back on the Democratic side of the primary results in the Buncombe County Commission race, the candidates will be Amanda Edwards in District 2 (eastern Buncombe) and Donna Ensley in District 3 (western Buncombe). In the general, Edwards will square off in the closely-divided district with Republican Glenda P. Weinert. At the same time Ensley will face incumbent Robert Pressley.
In District 2 Edwards beat out the 2016 Democratic nominee Nancy Nehls Nelson 40 percent to 31 percent, while Weaverville Town Councilperson Patrick Fitzsimmons got 19 percent and Dereck Lindsey got almost 10 percent.
Ensley handily beat her opponents in District 3. She claimed over 61 percent of the vote while actor and small-business owner Catori Swann and activist Taylon Breeden split the remainder: 23 and 16 percent respectively.
For more information on all the candidates, see Mountain Xpress’ 2018 primary voter guide.
For complete local results see the North Carolina State Board of Elections results page. See statewide results here. All results are unofficial until they can be certified by the state agency later this month.