Able Allen and Virginia Daffron contributed to this report
With 100 percent of precincts reporting in, the unofficial results of the night put MountainTrue co-director Julie Mayfield at the front of the game, with a near 2 percent lead on Habitat for Humanity floor manager Brian Haynes, who pulled in the second highest number of votes.
No. 3 by a close 72 votes was incumbent and Vice Mayor Marc Hunt. Keith Young trailed Hunt by 180 votes, Lindsey Simerly followed Young by 315 and Rich Lee lagged behind Simerly by a close 44 votes.
Turnout for the primary rose back into double-digit territory, as unofficial results announced 12.78 percent of registered Asheville voters showed up for the qualifying election. In 2013, only 9 percent of voters turned up at the polls for the primary — making this year’s turnout the highest it’s been since 2007 (which brought out 13.5 percent of voters).
At Asheville Brewing Company, Mayfield, Hunt and Simerly watched the votes come in among supporters.
“I feel good about how we are in the campaign,” said Hunt. “Now it’s just finger-crossing time.”
Prior to the results, Mayfield said, “Well, I’m feeling pretty good as things are coming in.”
As the final count came in, Lee, at his campaign party at Bonfire Barbecue in West Asheville, explained, “I feel like, over the next month, there will be a lot of conversations about the future of Asheville. I look forward to exploring those issues in depth with folks.
“In the top six candidates, you will find six different valid visions of how this city should shape its own growth,” Lee continued. “Everybody who ran represents what’s great about Asheville.”
Back at Asheville Brewing downtown, Mayfield said she was “overwhelmed by the results.”
“What I’m looking forward to in the next round is much more of a discussion about policy: What people want, what people think we need in Asheville,” she continued.
Hunt added, “I feel great. The Citizens have spoken. We’ve identified a range of issues we should discuss over the coming month. Short term rentals is one of the most important issues that needs to be talked about. The entire field of candidates owes it to the community to discuss a broader range of issues … and understand that compromise is sometimes needed to come to a decision and that we can’t get stuck on single issues.”
To see how your precinct voted, click here.
Want to learn more about these six candidates? Visit these links:
Here are the unofficial results from the North Carolina Board of Elections: