At day’s end, it was incumbent Bob Christy who got the champagne treatment in the Buncombe County Clerk of Superior Court race. Christy, who has held the office since 1990, won handily against Don Yelton, a political outsider who ran on a platform dedicated to breaking the grip of local attorneys’ power over the clerk’s office, automating the payment system for fines and infractions, and unseating what he calls the “good-old-boys network” there.
Yelton, a Weaverville Republican, garnered 26,480 votes (35 percent of the total) to Christy’s 48,591 votes. Some candidates might be discouraged by such a sweep, but Yelton managed to turn his frown upside down.
“What Tuesday’s numbers mean is that 27,000 people in Buncombe County agree with me,” said Yelton. “I’ve attacked every attorney in Buncombe County, I’ve attacked every nonprofit in Buncombe County, I’ve held the commissioners’ feet to the fire, and there are still a lot of people out there supporting me. The people are looking for something different, and I’m just a little bit different from politicians who are from the ‘normal’ mold.”
Christy’s campaign was framed by an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to the office. His performance has won him a number of awards, and he ran unopposed in 2002.
Before the election, Christy maintained that the Buncombe County legal establishment wouldn’t “want to see any big changes come” to the office (see “Donald v. Goliath,” Oct. 25 Xpress). His victory last week would seem to ensure that this won’t happen — unless Christy changes his mind.