local elections matter 2019

By Dave Russell

The filing period for November’s municipal elections closed last Friday, with six people seeking three seats on Sylva’s town board.

As of now, that will be the only contested race on the ballot.

No one filed for mayor of Forest Hills by the deadline, causing the filing period to be extended. Former Mayor Jim Wallace filed for the office Monday, but the extended filing period will remain open until noon Friday.

The direction of Sylva’s governing body could change if three new members join the five-member board.

Incumbents David Nestler and Greg McPherson filed for reelection. They are joined on the ballot by former town board member Danny Allen along with Ben Guiney, Luther Jones and Carrie McBane.

Harold Hensley did not file for another term.

Board members Mary Gelbaugh and Barbara Hamilton and Mayor Lynda Sossamon are not up for re-election until 2021. The mayor and board members serve four-year terms.

Forest Hills Mayor Kolleen Begley said it’s someone else’s turn to step up and she would not run again. State statutes allow local elections boards to extend the filing period for five business days if there are open seats without a candidate. The extension was put in place, which allowed Wallace to file.

In 2013, no one filed for mayor of Forest Hills during the regular filing period. Begley filed for the office during the five-day extension and was elected without opposition.

Forest Hills has two open town board seats Incumbent Jonathan Brooks and newcomer Timothy Eckard are running unopposed. Board member Niall Michelson will not run.

The board members serve four-year terms, and the mayor’s term is for two years.

In Webster, incumbent Kelly Donaldson and newcomer Allen Davis are unopposed for two board seats. Incumbent Billie Jo Bryson decided not to seek re-election.

Mayor Tracy Rodes, Vice-Mayor LeighAnne Young and board members Alan Grant and Danell Moses are up for re-election in 2021. The board members and mayor serve four-year terms.

The lack of candidates has been a recurring election problem for Jackson County’s smallest municipalities. Webster has 276 registered voters and Forest Hills 330.

No Dillsboro seats are up for election this year.