Candidates file for judicial and nonpartisan seats

COURT HOUSE: Buncombe County's judiciary is set to remain unchanged with none of the incumbent judges facing opposition in the polls. So far the board of education races are shaping up similarly but there is still time for others to file and the Soil and Water board could see changes with five candidates vying for two seats. Photo by Arianna Moore

The primaries are long over in North Carolina, but filing for the races without primaries is underway to fill out the rest of the ballot. Candidates for seats on the state and county judiciary filed in June, followed by those wishing to serve as Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor; filing for those contests is completed. Meanwhile, Board of Education filing is open.

Filing for judicial campaigns for November’s general elections closed June 29. Candidates for all four levels of the North Carolina judicial system were required to file with the state Board of Elections and Ethics beginning June 18. State Supreme Court justices and Court of Appeals judges are elected statewide, and candidates for those seats will appear on ballots in Buncombe County, as well as the other 99 counties, on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6. The other races mentioned in this article will be on the ballot in Buncombe County only.


For the first time since 2002, state law has made 2018 judicial elections partisan, and affiliations will appear next to candidates’ names on the ballot. Generally, candidates present themselves as being above partisanship and campaign on nonpartisan qualities such as integrity, experience, knowledge of the law and demeanor on the bench. It remains to be seen if the new law ushers in any deviation from that tradition.

Seeking an eight-year term for Supreme Court Associate Justice are incumbent Barbara Jackson (Rep) and challengers Anita Earls (Dem) and Christopher Anglin (Rep).

Only one incumbent, John Arrowwood (Dem), is seeking a new eight-year Court of Appeals term. He faces challenger Andrew Heath (Rep). Candidates for the second of the three seats up for election this year are Jefferson Griffin (Rep), Sandra Ray (Rep) and Tobias Hampson (Dem). The third contest is between Allegra Collins (Dem), Chuck Kitchen (Rep) and Michael Monaco (Lib).

While many counties are grouped into prosecutorial and judicial districts for Superior and District court, Buncombe County stands alone, as do other large counties. Buncombe County comprises District 28, which has two Superior Court judges, who are elected to eight-year terms, and seven District Court judges, who are elected to four-year terms. Both Superior Court judges and five of the District Court judges are up for re-election this year. All are running unopposed and are Democrats.

Alan Thornburg (Dem) and Marvin Pope (Dem) are the District 28 incumbent Superior Court judges. 

The District 28 District Court incumbents are Ward Scott (Dem), Julie Kepple (Dem), Patricia Young (Dem), Susan Dotson-Smith (Dem) and Ed Clontz (Dem).


Buncombe County Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor filing closed on July 6, and Buncombe County Board of Education candidate filing began the same day. That registration period closes on Aug. 3 at noon. The filing fee for those offices is $5. The elections for these offices are nonpartisan, and only the candidates’ names will appear on the ballot. But because many candidates do belong to a political party, Xpress has indicated those affiliations.

Five candidates have filed for the two available Soil and Water seats. Incumbents Elise Israel (Unaffiliated) of Candler and William Hamilton (Dem) of Fairview are running to keep their positions on the board. Meanwhile, challengers include Karina Lizotte (Unaffiliated) and political operative Aaron Sarver (Dem), both of West Asheville, as well as perennial candidate and population control advocate Alan Ditmore (Unaffiliated) of Marshall.

Voters will be asked to vote for up to two on their ballots.

The school board has seven members, six from districts and one at large. Three seats are up for grabs this year. All are voted on by the people living in all of the county’s school districts, but the candidates must live in their respective districts.

At time of publication, only three candidates, all incumbents, had filed for the Buncombe County Board of Education: Enka District’s Max Queen (Dem) of Candler, Erwin District’s Pat Bryant (Unaffiliated) of West Asheville and Reynolds District’s Cindy McMahon (Dem) of East Asheville.



Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Able Allen
Able studied political science and history at Warren Wilson College. He enjoys travel, dance, games, theater, blacksmithing and the great outdoors. Follow me @AbleLAllen

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

4 thoughts on “Candidates file for judicial and nonpartisan seats

  1. jonathan wainscott

    Remember when we were all terrified that the NCGA was going to change the balance on the court by changing the district? ( ). No worries. Now, the 7 current District Court Judges will have faced a collective 19 elections with 17 of them being unopposed. Six of the 7 were originally placed on the bench by way of appointment as the seats were vacated prematurely by their predecessors. Only Judge Kepple gained a place on the bench by election, but she was the only person on the ballot. Five of the 7 judges have never faced and opponent.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.