State Board of Elections opts not to combine two races for Buncombe County Superior Court seats

There will be two separate ballot listings — not one — this November for two vacancies for Buncombe County District 28 Superior Court judgeships. A controversy over the ballot format was decided this afternoon by the State Board of Elections, which met in Asheville.

At issue was the method for filling a second vacancy, created when Judge Dennis Winner retired in June. Only one position had been a stake at the time of the May primary election, from which two winning candidates emerged: Kate Dreher, assistant district attorney, and Judge Alan Thornburg (currently serving by appointment).

With a second judgeship now also at stake, Dreher had petitioned the SBOE to create one pool of five candidates, combining the three who subsequently filed for the Winner vacancy—Diane K. McDonald, Heather Whitaker Goldstein and Judge Marvin Pope (current district court judge) — with those of Dreher and Thornburg, for a five-way race to fill the two open seats.

Following the board’s decision, Dreher told the Xpress that she did not plan to appeal. “I think my personal and campaign resources” would be better spent on informing voters about the issues, she said. “I will go forward with my campaign.”

Dreher and her attorney, Adam Mitchell of Raleigh, had argued that the N.C. election law called for combining the candidates for Superior Court under one ballot selection that would produce two winners. Candidate McDonald, representing herself, disagreed with Dreher’s interpretation of the statutory intent for filling the second vacancy. She was followed by (retired N.C. Supreme Court) Justice Robert Orr of the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law, representing candidate Pope. Orr also opposed a single-ballot listing, and added that changing the planned election method at the end of August was “untenable and violative of legislative intent.” Goldstein’s attorney, Larry McDevitt, took a similar position in opposition. Candidate Thornburg did not offer comment on the issue.

Following the arguments, the board quickly moved and voted unanimously to “continue with the election process already commenced” regarding the Thornburg versus Dreher race, and to conduct the election for the Winner vacancy as a separate ballot item between the three candidates who filed for that seat.


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.

2 thoughts on “State Board of Elections opts not to combine two races for Buncombe County Superior Court seats

  1. UnaffiliatedVoter

    Did anyone stand to DEMAND the RESIGNATION of Larry Leake and Gary Bartlett of the SBOE?

    Its time for them to be dismissed. They are complicit with the oppressive NC ruling class democrackkk REGIME. Enough of them.

  2. Ken Hanke

    oppressive NC ruling class democrackkk REGIME

    Wow. Just wow.

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.