WNC general elections 2022 live coverage

East Asheville Library ballot box
WHAT'S IN THE BOX? A receptacle awaits completed ballots at the East Asheville Library. Photo by Jennifer Castillo

(10:40 p.m.) Election events are now wrapping up across WNC, but Buncombe County Election Services is reminding voters that the process of certifying results has just begun. Some votes are also yet to be counted, including mailed ballots that were postmarked by Election Day and ballots from military and overseas voters.

With that in mind, this is Xpress news editor Daniel Walton signing off for the night. Thanks so much for reading, and be on the lookout for a recap of the local action on our website tomorrow.

(10:25 p.m.) At the local level, Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer has won a third term, defeating Council member Kim Roney. The race was considerably closer than the Democrat’s 2017 victory, where she secured nearly 81% of the vote; this year, she managed less than 54%.

Kim Roney
Asheville mayoral candidate Kim Roney watches results come in at the Desoto Lounge in West Asheville. Photo by Brooke Randle

“I think Asheville has moved collectively more and more to the left, which I think is a good thing” Manheimer said, when asked what the results indicated about voters’ concerns. She added that the election to Council of Maggie Ullman Berthiaume — formerly the city’s sustainability director — would allow city government to refocus on environmental issues.

Roney, who is unaffiliated, held her election watch event at the Desoto Lounge in West Asheville. She said that, despite the loss, her campaign had succeeded in shifting discussions about important city issues.

“We’ve been having the kinds of conversations that Asheville’s been needing to have for a long time,” Roney said. “No matter what happens tonight, I sense that my neighbors are ready for change.”

(10:05 p.m.) Democrat Jasmine Beach-Ferrara has conceded the U.S. House District 11 race to Republican Chuck Edwards. Speaking at the Buncombe County Democratic Party’s watch event, she said she’d personally called Edwards to wish him and his family the best as they headed into their next chapter.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to be your nominee for Congress here in Western North Carolina, and there is a lot to celebrate tonight,” Beach-Ferrara said. “We knew that one of the things this race was about was how, day in and day out, we do the work of building a politics based on love, hope and empathy.”

“There are nights when you win and there are nights when you lose, and either way the work goes on,” she added.

(9:59 p.m.) Buncombe County’s preliminary results are all in, and they confirm earlier indications that the Democratic slate carried all three of the county school board races. Kim Plemmons, speaking at the Democratic Party watch event at The Orange Peel, said she was humbled by the support voters had shown her.

“My goal is to make things better, both for kids in Buncombe County Schools and educators,” Plemmons said. “I’m a fighter for what’s best for those kids — not just a few kids, but all kids in this county.”

Plemmons added that recruiting and retaining teachers was one of her biggest priorities for her coming term as the Erwin District representative. “As a former banker that managed a region, recruiting was a big focus of mine, and I believe that we’ve got some work to do,” she said.

STAR-STRUCK: Henderson County resident Tricia Vinson says she’s been impressed by Chuck Edwards’ responsiveness as she’s lobbied for the Republican House hopeful to keep veterans issues in mind. Photo by Jessica Wakeman

(9:44 p.m.) Back at Edwards’ WNC Ag Center watch party, the mood has become more upbeat as Election Day results roll in from across House District 11. As predicted, those voters largely favored the Republican, who now holds a nearly nine-point lead over Democrat Beach-Ferrara.

Aubrey Woodard, Edwards’ campaign manager, said the candidate had picked up the pace of events in recent weeks, including a rally with Republican Senate hopeful Ted Budd at the Ag Center. “I think we will finally get the representation we really have deserved in this district,” Woodard said.

Others at the event echoed Woodard’s praise. Henderson County resident Tricia Vinson, decked out in a red, white and blue cowboy hat, said she’d been working closely with Edwards over the past year to keep veterans issues on his radar. “He’s so responsive,” she said.

(9:28 p.m.) Andrew Fletcher, the only unaffiliated candidate in this year’s general election for Asheville City Council, held his watch party at the Lazy Diamond in downtown Asheville. With about two-thirds of precincts reporting, he was at the bottom of the six-way pack, having earned less than 11% of the vote.

SHINE ON: Council candidate Andrew Fletcher watches election results come in at the Lazy Diamond in downtown Asheville. Photo by Brooke Randle

Nevertheless, Fletcher said he had been emboldened by the response of voters to his campaign. “The problems have gotten worse in five years [since my 2017 Council campaign.] The efforts at the Council level to work on those problems have certainly pushed more people to my message,” he said. “I’m pushing a message of, ‘What do the working people of Asheville need?’ and that message is not getting up to Council.”

Fletcher acknowledged that he had been fighting an uphill battle in his campaign. “When you’re not affiliated with either party, you’re not affiliated with any of the historical establishment institutions and you’re nobody’s heir apparent, then it’s going to be hard and you’re probably not going to get it your first time,” he explained.

Preliminary results indicate incumbent Council members Antanette Mosley and Sheneika Smith have won reelection, along with first-time candidate Maggie Ullman Berthiaume.

(9:10 p.m.) With over half of his district’s precincts reporting, Democrat Martin Moore said he was “cautiously optimistic” about securing victory over Republican incumbent Robert Pressley for a seat on the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners. Moore would be the board’s second Black member, joining incumbent Democrat Al Whitesides.

Martin Moore
FIRST TIME’S THE CHARM: Democrat Martin Moore, right, bested incumbent Republican Robert Pressley to earn a seat on the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners in his first campaign for public office. Photo by Able Allen

“I think the community’s ready for some change,” Moore said. Constituent conversations had revealed public safety as a major issue, he added, and he hoped to work with Sheriff Quentin Miller on initiatives that would be “effective, inclusive and transparent.”

Miller, the county’s first Black sheriff, had secured a comfortable lead in his own reelection bid. Preliminary results showed him with a more than 28-point margin over Republican candidate Trey McDonald.

(8:54 p.m.) Election Day results are now starting to come in for Buncombe County. In conjunction with early voting ballots, the numbers indicate that both bond measures passed with overwhelming community support.

Voters supported “Yes” on the open space bond referendum, which authorizes the county to raise $30 million for farmland preservation, open space conservation and greenways, by a margin of over 44%. The $40 million affordable housing bond referendum proved less popular but still passed by a margin of over 31%.

Asheville For All, a pro-housing political advocacy group, celebrated the bonds’ passage but said more work remained to be done. “Don’t believe anyone that says they have the one silver bullet that will make the region affordable for all,” said Andrew Paul, one of the group’s lead organizers, in a press release. “Subsidies for income-restricted housing are necessary but not sufficient. We also need to update land-use rules, ones with roots in classism and racism, that limit the construction of apartments and owner-occupied multi-family homes.”

SWEET ANTICIPATION: Baked goods await supporters of Republican U.S. House District 11 candidate Chuck Edwards at a watch event being held at the WNC Agricultural Center. Photo by Jessica Wakeman

(8:45 p.m.) Reporter Jessica Wakeman is at the WNC Agricultural Center, where supporters of Edwards have gathered to watch the results come in. She spoke with Doris Hawkins, mountain region vice president of the N.C. Federation of Republican Women.

Hawkins said Edwards’ House race and the U.S. Senate bid of Republican Ted Budd were her party’s two “critical missions” this year. She named inflation, border security and education as the top three issues she’d like to see a Republican-led Congress address.

The Republican organizer said women across WNC, particularly mothers, had been energized to vote in this year’s midterms. “They’re protecting their children,” Hawkins explained. “We feel like [the left] is taking the rights away from parents.”

She downplayed the idea that concerns over abortion rights would lead to greater support for Democrats at the state level. “You put everything that’s going on in one big pot, and that’s just one of them. We expect a red wave, we really do, in North Carolina,” Hawkins said.

(8:31 p.m.) “It’s the worst popularity contest in the world.”

Allison Scott
ON THE BUBBLE: Asheville City Council candidate Allison Scott finished fourth in early voting results for the six-way contest. Three Council members will be elected this cycle. Photo by Brooke Randle

That’s how Allison Scott described the Asheville City Council race to reporter Brooke Randle, who is also attending the Buncombe Democrats event at The Orange Peel. In early voting results, Scott stood fourth in the six-way Council contest; only three seats are up for grabs.

Scott, a first-time candidate, said she’d greatly enjoyed connecting with voters. But as the first openly trans person to run for city office, she said she’d faced harassment both in person and online during her campaign.

“It shows how there’s still an extra barrier there,” Scott said. Still, she said, her success in qualifying for the general election out of an 11-person primary field indicates “there’s an open door” for trans candidates that didn’t exist in her youth.

(8:16 p.m.) One surprising result to emerge from early voting comes in the U.S. House District 11 race, being contested by Democrat Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Republican Chuck Edwards and Libertarian David Adam Coatney. Beach-Ferrara had a four-point lead over Edwards in early voting ballots across the district.

Her performance is considerably stronger than that of the previous Democratic candidate, Moe Davis, in the 2020 midterm against Madison Cawthorn. Davis took less than 40% of early votes in that race, while Beach-Ferrara earned over 51% of those ballots.

However, Beach-Ferrara’s lead may be erased as Election Day results are tabulated. According to Western Carolina University political science professor Chris Cooper, the Republican voters who favor Edwards are more likely to vote in person, and those results won’t be reported until later this evening.

PARTY TIME: Former Asheville Vice Mayor Marc Hunt, standing, attends the Buncombe County Democratic Party’s watch event at The Orange Peel. Photo by Able Allen

(8:03 p.m.) Reporter Able Allen is attending the Buncombe Democratic Party’s watch event at The Orange Peel in downtown Asheville. The party’s dominance over county politics is looking solid per currently available election results.

That’s true even for races in which party affiliation isn’t listed on the ballot. All three of the Democratic-affiliated candidates running for Buncombe County Board of Education positions — incumbent Judy S. Lewis, Kim Plemmons and Rob Elliot — took vote margins in excess of 9 percentage points over their Republican opponents in early voting. Registered Democrats also topped the early polls for the nonpartisan Asheville City Council and Asheville City Board of Education races.

Jeff Rose, the Democratic party chair, said he would watch the state House races particularly closely as results continued to come in. All three of the seats representing Buncombe feature two candidates running their first General Assembly race (although Democrat Caleb Rudow is an incumbent, having been appointed in January to fill the vacancy left by retiring Rep. Susan Fisher.)

Rose said he expected the contest between Democrat Lindsey Prather and Republican Pratik Bhakta in District 115, the county’s southwest, to be the closest of the three. That was the case in early voting results, although Prather still held a nearly 26-point margin over her opponent.

(7:45 p.m.) Polls are now closed in Buncombe County, and the N.C. State Board of Elections has released the results of early and mail-in voting. Those numbers show substantial leads for Democrats in all county-level races.

The biggest margin so far appears to be that of Democrat Al Whitesides over Republican Anthony Penland in the contest to represent the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners District 1. Whitesides took nearly 73% of the early vote.

And in District 2, early results suggest that incumbent Republican Robert Pressley will lose his seat to first-time candidate Martin Moore. Moore secured over 60% of the early vote; Pressley’s defeat would mean that Buncombe’s top governing body will consist entirely of Democrats.

POLL WATCHERS: Juliana Walker, left, and Alexa Whitman chat while awaiting election results at a Young Professionals of Asheville watch party. Photo by Jessica Wakeman

(7:34 p.m.) Our first update from the field comes from reporter Jessica Wakeman, who stopped by a watch party sponsored by the Young Professionals of Asheville at the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce. Although the event featured free pizza from PIE.ZAA, along with beer from Bhramari and Highland Brewing Co., Wakeman says it was sparsely attended.

That low turnout reflects the county’s early voting statistics for young people. According to EQV Analytics, a Durham-based campaign data firm, the number of early votes cast by Buncombe residents aged 18-29 dropped substantially from 2018 to 2022 — from more than 8,000 to fewer than 6,000.

Buncombe does not appear to be an outlier in that regard. Among the 20 North Carolina counties with the largest youth vote in 2018, only three had higher early turnout for the current midterms.

(7:14 p.m.) Despite worries of potential interference by overzealous poll observers, as reported by Xpress last week, voting appears to have gone mostly smoothly in Buncombe County. Asked about any incidents that occurred during early voting, Election Services officials only noted two minor disruptions.

According to Buncombe Director of Elections Corinne Duncan, the first involved unspecified “unpleasant behavior” by Tracey DeBruhl, the Libertarian candidate for Buncombe County Sheriff, at the East Asheville Library. The second involved a campaigner for John Anderson, the Republican candidate for N.C. Senate District 49, “directing traffic and causing some confusion at the South Buncombe early voting location.”

The only report of disruptive behavior on Election Day so far has come from West Asheville. As reported by the Citizen-Times, a man who did not state an affiliation with any candidate verbally harassed voters and campaign workers around 3 p.m. The man left the site in a white pickup truck before the Asheville Police Department arrived.

(6:58 p.m.) Voting in Buncombe County is on track to wrap up close to the scheduled end time of 7:30 p.m. As of 6:53 p.m., only two county polling places had more than 10 people in line: the Leicester Library and West Buncombe Elementary School. Anyone in line as of 7:30 will be allowed to vote.

Three sites elsewhere in the state will see voting extended, per the unanimous vote of the N.C. State Board of Elections at an emergency meeting earlier today. Precincts in Columbus, Robeson and Wilson counties will be allowed to vote until 8:30 p.m. to compensate for minor technical and logistical hiccups.

(6:45 p.m.) Buncombe County’s early voting turnout this year, while strong compared to historical midterm general election numbers, fell short of the high-water mark set in 2018. According to the county’s Election Services, about 77,800 voters cast early ballots that year; this year, about 70,400 people had voted prior to Election Day. In comparison, fewer than 42,000 Buncombe residents voted early in the 2014 midterms.

Overall turnout this year is likely to be slightly less than in 2018 as well. As of 4 p.m. today, close to 31,000 additional Buncombe residents had turned out, bringing the total voter count to about 101,000. 2018’s final ballot total was 119,798.

The county’s most enthusiastic early voters can be found to the west: Precinct 44.1, centered on the Enka-Candler Library, led early turnout among Buncombe’s 80 precincts. South Asheville’s Precinct 18.2 (T. C. Roberson high School) and Weaveville’s Precinct 59.1 (First Born Baptist Church) round out the top three sources of early voters.

East Asheville Library ballot box
WHAT’S IN THE BOX? A receptacle awaits completed ballots at the East Asheville Library. Photo by Jennifer Castillo

(6:30 p.m.) Western North Carolina’s early risers were greeted this Election Day morning by the blood-red disc of a total lunar eclipse — diffused by heavy fog, at least from this reporter’s East Asheville abode, but striking nonetheless. The event felt astronomically appropriate: Since the days of ancient Mesopotamia, eclipses have been seen as omens of political change.

The Babylonians believed an eclipse might presage the death of a king, while an ancient Chinese warlord took an eclipse as a sign to overthrow his ruler. Nothing so dramatic is likely to happen in WNC, but on this day marked by moon, citizens do have the opportunity to alter the paths of government.

As outlined in the Mountain Xpress voter guide, the region’s voters will choose candidates at levels of power from the U.S. House of Representatives down to local school boards. Buncombe County residents will also vote on two bond referendums that could authorize $70 million in new borrowing for affordable housing and land conservation.

Voting continues through 7:30 p.m. this evening; more details are available through the Buncombe County Election Services website. Once polling closes, Xpress reporters Able Allen, Brooke Randle and Jess Wakeman will be making the rounds throughout Buncombe County to speak with local candidates and voters as the results come in.

This post will be updated regularly with the latest election results, analysis and candidate comments. Full primary numbers, including those for statewide senatorial and judicial races, are available through the N.C. State Board of Elections website.

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About Daniel Walton
Daniel Walton is the News Editor of Mountain Xpress, coordinating coverage of Western North Carolina's governments, community groups, businesses and environment. His work has previously appeared in Capital at Play, Edible Asheville and the Citizen-Times, among other area publications. Follow me @DanielWWalton

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2 thoughts on “WNC general elections 2022 live coverage

  1. indy499

    LOL. glad to see Looney Roney go down. Couldn’t happen to a nicer woman. Loves to make the city center uninhabitable since she doesn’t live here. And with that ego, man, losing to Esther must be really, really tough to take.

    • NFB

      It also says a lot when all five of Manheimer’s and Roney’s council colleagues, who have worked with both of them for the past two years, endorsed Manheimer.

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