The ball’s in your court

Forgive the sports metaphors — after all, this year there’s an ex-quarterback in the running in Western North Carolina’s most-watched electoral contest. That said, this is decidedly not a game: The ’06 elections could alter the political playing field in ways that will affect everyone who has a stake in public policy.

Name your issue and this election will touch on it. In the surveys on the following pages, the candidates for offices big and small offer their positions on everything from local law enforcement to the state budget to the war in Iraq. We asked them to tell us — and you — what distinguishes them from their opponents; what ways, if any, they depart from their party’s orthodoxy; what their priorities would be if elected; and how taxpayers’ money should and shouldn’t be spent.

Depending on your perspective, their answers might be seen as either principled or boilerplate. Other responses surprised even Xpress‘ jaded editorial staff: Just when you think you’ve heard it all, a candidate sometimes throws a curve ball. For example, when asked whether WNC’s local legislative delegation should have sponsored the laws that sided with Buncombe County against Asheville in the heated water debate, one candidate goes so far as to say she made a mistake in signing onto them. A politician owning up to a recent mistake? That’s a move that all too rarely find its way into the campaign playbook.

In the following pages, Xpress puts plenty of questions to the politicians, but we’ve got just one for WNC residents: Will you vote? In the primaries last April, a scant 10 percent of Buncombe County’s registered voters cast a ballot.

If you do plan on voting, save the date: The general election happens Tuesday, Nov. 7. If you’re going to be booked that day, you’ve still got a few days remaining to hit the polls for early voting: Up until 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4, 10 locations in Buncombe County will be open for one-stop voting (see “Campaign Calendar” in this issue’s Buzzworm section for locations).

Now, then: Ready, set, vote!

U.S. Congress

Heath Shuler

Charles Taylor

Buncombe Sheriff

Bobby L. Medford

Van Duncan

State Senate: District 49

R.L. Clark

Martin Nesbitt

State House: District 114

Susan Fisher

Mike Harrison

State House: District 115

Bruce Goforth

Eric Gorny

State House: District 116

Doug Jones

Charles Thomas

About Jon Elliston
An Asheville-based mountain journalist: Former Mountain Xpress managing editor. Investigations and open government editor at Carolina Public Press. Senior contributing editor at WNC magazine.

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