By Dave Russell
After a sluggish start, the July 2-16 filing period for the Nov. 2 elections in Jackson County’s four municipalities picked up in the second week.
Here’s a rundown of the candidates, though write-ins are still a possibility and one filing deadline has been extended.
As of Tuesday, July 6, only the two incumbents on the Sylva Town Board – Mary Gelbaugh and Barbara Hamilton – had thrown their hats in the ring. Last Wednesday, Luther Jones filed. By the noon Friday deadline, Carrie McBane and Natalie Newman made it a five-person race for the two available seats.
McBane ran in 2019 with the backing of Down Home North Carolina, the first political action committee involved in a Jackson County election. She and current board member Ben Guiney tied, with Guiney winning after the third of a best-of-three coin toss.
McBane has backed off her connection with the PAC and is doing her own thing, she said.
Newman ran an unsuccessful write-in candidacy in 2019. Jones finished fifth of six candidates for three open seats on the board in 2019.
The seats of the other board members – Greg McPherson, David Nestler and Guiney – are up in 2023. All terms are for four years.
Sylva Mayor Lynda Sossamon has no opposition as she seeks a third term. Sossamon won election in 2015 to complete an unexpired term, then won re-election to a four-year stint in 2017.
Everyone in Forest Hills runs unopposed so far. Incumbent Forest Hills Mayor Jim Wallace seeks another two-year term, and Ron Yount has filed for another four-year term on the council. Newcomer Daniel Shields is running for the council seat vacated by Carl Hooper, who was appointed June 24 to replace Jerry Rice, who resigned.
Dillsboro leaders are not elected for staggered terms. Unopposed candidates for all five council members and the mayor’s seat are on the ballot. Terms last four years.
Newcomer James Cochran and incumbents David Gates, Beauford Riddle, Tim Parris and Tim Hall have filed for the Dillsboro board. Interim Mayor David Jones, who took office when three-term Mayor Mike Fitzgerald resigned, is the lone candidate for mayor. Parris was on July 12 appointed vice-mayor, a post formerly held by Jones.
In Webster, Mayor Tracy Rodes has no opposition. With three seats open on the town council only two candidates have filed – incumbents Vice-Mayor Leigh Anne Young and council member Danell Moses. One seat is lacking a candidate as member Allan Grant elected not to run again.
The deadline for a candidate to file for the Webster council seat has been extended to Friday at 5 p.m.
Two years ago, the filing period was extended for a week in a contest lacking candidates.
According to the state statute for this scenario, “If in a nonpartisan municipal election, when the filing period expires, candidates have not filed for all offices to be filled, the board of elections may extend the filing period for five days.”
If no one files, the qualified person with the most write-in votes would take the seat, according to Jackson County Elections Director Lisa Lovedahl. In order to campaign ahead of time for the seat, write-in candidates would have to register with the elections office.
The seats of the Webster mayor and board members are for four-year terms.