Election Day: Hunt, Pelly win Council seats; Davis, Gray likely headed for recount; sales tax passes

Supporters of the 1/4 cent sales tax intended for A-B Tech applaud at news of its passage. Photo by Bill Rhodes.

9:42 A.M.: “Wow, what an amazing race,” Gray tells Xpress. “Last night, watching the results come in, was a really intense moment.”

Gray, who trails third-place finisher Davis by only 40 votes, says she’ll wait for the official count, including absentee and provisional ballots, before making a decision on asking for a recount. However, “if the result remains this close, the responsible thing is to call for a recount.”

She adds that after the campaign “I’m feeling really positive, I still look forward to working for the city.”

10:22 P.M.: As the first-place finisher, Hunt tells Xpress that “I feel a great sense of duty. One thing I’ve really come to appreciate from talking with voters in this community is that a single vote is a valued, treasured thing. When people invest those in me to be a leader and do the right things for the community, there’s an obligation that comes with that; and I take that very seriously.”

Hunt adds that “It will be great to shift gears. The campaign has been a challenge and a lot of fun, but now the real work really starts, the most important work starts. I’m ready and I’m energized.” He claims he will donate the slightly more than $200 dollars left in his campaign budget to WNC Alliance for their Smart Growth Coalition and to the Asheville City Schools Foundation.

“I’m very pleased with the results, but it was a difficult race,” Davis tells Xpress of his extremely close third-place finish. “I feel like it’s important to maintain somebody on Council like myself who has a small business mindset.”

Davis also praised the quality of the candidates in the race.

“It’s been a close election with a lot of good candidates, and Lael Gray is certainly a worthy candidate, but I am happy to have edged her out.”

Meanwhile, Chase says he believes his candidacy has raised his main issue, despite his last-place finish.

“If I had just gone to every other city council meeting and stood up and talked about the same issues week after week, it wouldn’t have had the same effect as actually running for city council,” Chase asserts. “I’m glad I did it.”

— Caitlin Byrd

9:35 P.M.: With all precincts reporting, the A-B Tech sales tax referendum has won a close victory, with 16,795 (50.74 percent) votes for and 16,262 (49.26 percent) against.

The vote provided a stark example of differences between the city and county, as shown on this map.

Meanwhile, under North Carolina recount law, the race between Davis and Gray for Asheville City Council’s third seat will head to a recount if Gray wishes, as less than one percent of the votes the two received separates them. Gray has yet to comment on what route she will take.

9:13 P.M.: Pelly tells Xpress that “I’m humbled and honored voters have chosen me.” He believes his campaign theme of “Neighborhoods United,” along with his experience with development issues, played key parts in his victory. Asked about his top priority, Pelly replied “trying to represent the public interest.”

— David Forbes

Perspectives from candidates on the results coming throughout the evening.

8:45 P.M.: With all city precincts reporting, Marc Hunt and Chris Pelly have won seats on Asheville City Council. Incumbent Jan Davis has come in a mere 40 votes ahead of Lael Gray, meaning the race is likely headed for a recount. The A-B Tech sales tax referendum remains close, with several county precincts still to report.

Results are as follows:

Marc Hunt 8,725 votes, 22.13 percent
Chris Pelly 8,182 votes, 20.73 percent
Jan Davis 7,682 votes, 19.49 percent
Lael Gray 7,642 votes, 19.38 percent
Mark Cates, 5,246 votes, 13.31 percent
Saul Chase 1,753 votes, 4.45 percent

The last time an election this close, when challenger Bill Russell edged out incumbent Bryan Freeborn in 2007, the Board of Elections held a recount, which confirmed Russell’s victory.

With four county precincts left to report, the A-B Tech sales tax referendum is narrowly ahead, with 50.84 percent (16,558 votes) in favor and 49.16 percent (16,012 votes) against.

— David Forbes

Below is voter and election information from earlier in the day.

Here’s more information about the six Asheville City Council candidates vying for three open seats. Or, if you want a more humorous take, check out the Asheville Disclaimer’s satirical profiles.

For more on the A-B Tech sales tax referendum, check Jake Frankel’s in-depth story.

Find your polling place here.

According to figures released by the Buncombe County Board of Elections, 5,739 people voted during this year’s early voting period, up from 3,357 in the last municipal election in 2009. The numbers include all early voters in the county, not just those voting in Asheville City Council elections.

This election includes a county-wide referendum on a sales tax increase intended for A-B Tech as well as a number of municipal elections, most prominently Asheville City Council. The 2009 elections included a mayoral race as well as Council. The Board of Elections doesn’t yet have the early voting numbers for the Council race, but Lindsey Simerly, a local organizer, provided numbers from the VoteBuilder software showing 3,398 city voters cast their ballots early.

Early voting ended Saturday, Nov. 4. Polls close later today, Nov. 8.

Below are ongoing tweets on the races. Feel free to weigh in about any election-related matter in the comments.


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10 thoughts on “Election Day: Hunt, Pelly win Council seats; Davis, Gray likely headed for recount; sales tax passes

  1. Viking

    Jan shoud resign from the contest. It would be beyond ridiculous for him to continue.

    No one will believe an incumbent with Jan’s political machine really beat Lael given her minimal campaign resources when the ‘win’ factor is forty votes. Jan represents the end of the Worley Era. … and ‘Congresswoman’ Bellamy is the end of the end.

    That’s the definitive result tonight.

  2. Jake

    The results won’t be finalized until next week. Let’s make sure all the absentee and provisional ballots are considered. And even then, it looks like it’ll be time for a recount. It was a painless and highly worthwhile process four years ago, and I’d expect nothing less this time.

  3. Viking

    But the ‘recount’ results were also statistically insignificant. Freeborn never took it further because there a few additional steps one can take in a close election in NC.

    I seriously hope that Marc Hunt and Chris Pelly will mention that right now the next city council includes a multi-term incumbent (Jan Davis) who ‘won’ by all of forty votes.

    WIll people take council seriously with such a weak politician dragging down that questionable seat? I mean, it’s like we might as well address him as Jan ‘Statistically Insignificant’ Davis for the next four years. It’s like running city government with a giant asterisk cloud overlaying Jan’s image on the city council rebroadcasts…. “Only Forty Votes in 2011”. Every vote of his will be considered ‘Statistically Insignificant’ by the public… or so it should be.

    It seems the Asheville City Council will be crippled by a lack of… fidelity? Jan seems so secure in his ‘win’ from his quotes to Mountain Xpress tonight. Wicked.

    More needless political craziness. Maybe that’s all there is to say… once again.

    Oh well.

  4. Barry Summers

    What’s gotta be eating at Mark Cates: “Should I have gone the full $25,000?”

    • Barry Summers

      I like Jan too, but I don’t support him for Council anymore. Ah well…

  5. RHS

    Viking — so we should seat Lael Gray who got 40 votes fewer than Jan Davis? Wouldn’t that be even more “statistically insignificant?”

    Whatever happened to good manners? Whatever happened to congratulating the winner?

    Too bad you can be as gracious as Lael Gray was last night.

    On another angle — related to Barry’s comment, I find it interesting that Mark Cates has been as silent as he has — no comments on WLOS or in this mornings Citizen Times. I guess it is offical: Ahseville remains “the heart of enemy territory.” More than $20,000 spent to convince Asheville voters that a tea party member was an environmentalist and progressive all for a 2,400 vote deficit and a fifth place finish.

  6. “Jan ‘Statistically Insignificant’ Davis”

    Like the A-B Tech “Statistically Insignificant” Tax Vote.

  7. cecilbothwell

    When the final numbers come in (due in January, per state law), it’s pretty clear that the Cates spending will far exceed $20K.

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