This post includes results and information about the Buncombe County races, including the Board of Commissioners and Register of Deeds primaries.. We’ll update it as we call the races and gather responses from candidates. For more specifics on the margins of victory check out the Buncombe County Board of Elections website.
District races, board of commissioners
Under the new district election system, for each district, two Republican and two Democrat candidates move on to the November contest. The top two winners in that election will earn seats on the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, bringing the total number of members on the board to seven. One at-large candidate will win the chair’s seat.
Chair, board of commissioners
Democrat David Gantt and Republican J.B. Howard
Incumbent Gantt handily beat challenger Milton Byrd in the Democratic primary for board chair, earning a whopping 81 percent of the vote. The more competitive race was on the Republican side, where Howard defeated Glenda Weinert 55 percent to 45 percent. This is a first run for office for Howard, A former highway patrolman and private investigator.
Democrat David Gantt
Republican J.B. Howard
Democrats: Holly Jones and Brownie Newman
Republicans: (No primary: Don Guge advances to November.
Jones (left) said of her victory: “I feel very proud to live in Buncombe County. I feel the results tonight really reflect a forward-looking community that understands the possibilities.” Going forward, she said that due to the strongly Democratic nature of her district, she would help out other candidates in more competitive districts.
Newman (left) said of his win: “I’m very appreciative of the very high turnout for voters in a primary election,” he tells Xpress. “Holly Jones and I appreciate the support of District 1 and look forward to serving on the county commissioners and working with the candidates in Districts 2 and 3 to elect a strong, progressive group of commissioners.”
Democrats: Carol Peterson and Ellen Frost
Republicans: Mike Fryar and Christina Kelley G. Merrill
From the time the polls opened on election day at 6:30 a.m. to the time they closed at 7:30 p.m., incumbent Carol Peterson visited precincts in her east-Buncombe district. A few hours after the polls closed, she claimed victory. Peterson received almost 40 percent of the vote. In the general election, she will be running against fellow democrat Ellen Frost, who received about 36 percent of the vote.
At home with her family in Fairview, Peterson credited her track record as a commissioner for her win in the primary. “I really think we’re (the County) on the right path. It’s important that we make people aware of all the work that the County does, and we always want to have good communication, and that’s something that I plan to continue,” she said.
Meanwhile, celebrating with Democrats at the Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company downtown, Ellen Frost said she was happy of her win tonight and cited hard work and her grassroots campaign. “People want answers, people want to know where you stand and I think we gave them that.” She said she plans to focus on looking at the living wage in Buncombe County as she continues her campaign.
Watching the results roll in with fellow Republicans at Pack’s Tavern, Mike Fryar smiled when he talked about his win in the primary. He received about 36 percent of the vote and will advance to the general election along with Christina Kelley G. Merrill. Fryar lost when he first ran for Buncombe County Commissioners four years ago. Now retired, he spent years working on Nascar engines, saying of his May 8 win, “It’s just one part of the race. … And looking forward, it’s going to be a whole different race. I’m not just running against two other Republicans, I’m running against two Democrats and another Republican. But, I want to be the voice of county for all people, not just the Republicans.”
Opting to stay home with her family to watch the votes roll in on election night, Christina Kelley G. Merrill received nearly 35 percent of the vote or just 166 fewer than Fryar. Looking toward the fall election, Merrill said, “I feel good. I feel very energized and really positive. I think that voters are really sending a message that they’re looking for a different direction for our county. It gives me a lot of energy for the next few months to go on. I’m going to take it and ride it.”
Democrats: Michelle Pace Wood and Terry Van Duyn
Republicans: Joe Belcher and David King
Wood (left) responds to her win: “I think we had three great candidates and look forward to working with every Democrat running this in this district to win in November. I think our campaign was unique and merged the best of traditional politics with the best of the new. Thank you to all my campaign staff, our friends, voters who supported me and the many volunteers.”
(Terry Van Duyn)
Belcher (left) responds to his win: “I’m humbled by it. … The people of this county supported conservative leadership and Christian values, and that’s really what brought them to me. … That’s what we put out there.”
Register of Deeds
Democrat: Drew Reisinger
Republican: (no primary: Pat Cothran advances to November)
Reisinger (left) responds to his win: “I couldn’t be more excited about the results tonight. We had one of the most impressive organizations in the county as far as campaigns. … It was all about the organization of getting people out to vote and having a positive campaign. … We had a very positive message about the things we’ve been able to achieve in office. Everything from making things more accessible here for all people in Buncombe County, while saving taxpayer dollars.”