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Wednesday, 05 March 2014 02:01

Statewide races

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U.S. Congress

About the race: This used to be a toss-up district, but clever redrawing of voting boundaries by the Republican-led legislature in Raleigh two years ago tipped the scales to the right. The liberal stronghold of Asheville was carved out and shunted it into a different Congressional seat.

From 2006-2012, the seat was held by Heath Shuler, a self-described conservative Democratic and former football star. But Shuler threw his party for a loop at the 11th hour by deciding not to run in 2012. Shuler’s own chief of staff was the only dog the Democrats could muster for a last-minute run. But it was to no avail, however. The seat went Republican, and has attracted little Democratic interest this time.

Democratic primary: yes

Republican primary: no


•U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-Cashiers, has been serving in Congress for two years.


•Keith Ruehl, D-Barnardsville, is a 47-year-old entrepreneur. He decided to run for Congress because of “dissatisfaction with our current leadership.”

•Tom Hill, D-Zirconia, is making another run for this congressional seat. The candidate has a Ph.D. in physics from UNC-Chapel Hill and worked in the aerospace field with the U.S. Department of Defense. During the 2012 race, Hill listed the costs of “unwinnable wars” and collecting taxes from “deadbeat corporations” as some of his key concerns.


N.C. General Assembly

118th House seat

Is this my state rep? Yes, if you live in Madison and Yancey counties and part of Haywood — namely Canton, Clyde, Bethel, Cruso, Maggie Valley, Jonathan Creek and Crabtree areas.

About the race: This is a slightly Democratic-leaning district and was held by the popular and effective leader Ray Rapp, D-Mars Hill, for more than a decade. But Rapp lost in 2012. It surprised politicos on both sides of the aisle. Rapp’s loss was chalked up to collateral damage in the Republican landslide in North Carolina that year. Despite the Democratic Party begging Rapp to run for his old seat, he didn’t want to reenter politics. 

Democratic primary: no

Republican primary: no


•N.C. Rep. Michele Presnell, R-Burnsville, is running for reelection after her first term. She is a small business owner. Presnell previously ran on a platform that included lowering taxes, requiring voter I.D., expanding gun rights, restricting abortion, and reducing regulations — and she delivered. 

“I am proud to be able to say that I made promises during my 2012 campaign, and I kept those promises,” Presnell said.


•Dean Hicks, D-Burnsville is challenging Presnell. Hicks, a Yancey native and a retired teacher and coach, served three terms as a Yancey County commissioner. The candidate lists education reform as his top priority. 

“I feel like we’ve lost 50-plus years of progress in the last year,” Hicks said. “That is my main goal, is to try to get education back on the right track.”


119th House seat

Is this my state rep? Yes, if you live in Jackson and Swain counties and part of Haywood  — namely Waynesville and Lake Junaluska.

About the race: The seat in this left-leaning House district has long belonged to a Democrat. In 2012, the seat came up for grabs with the retirement of long-time legislator Phil Haire of Sylva after 14 years. A fellow Democratic statesman picked up the torch — one of the only Democrats elected to the legislature in the mountains two years ago.

Democratic primary: no

Republican primary: yes


•N.C. Rep. Joe Sam Queen, D-Waynesville, is running for reelection. Queen, an architect and businessman, is serving his first term in the N.C. House. But Queen has previously served three terms in the N.C. Senate over the past decade. Queen, who is married to a doctor and has two grown children, is a long-time civic leader in Haywood County and has served on many community organizations, including heritage and cultural organizations, as well as being involved in environmental and business initiatives.


•Dodie Allen, an auctioneer for the past 30 years, runs Dodie’s Auction in Sylva. The 79-year-old is seeking the House seat because she believes “that we are pulling further and further away from our constitution.”

•Mike Clampitt, a Republican from Bryson City, ran against Queen for the House seat two years ago but lost by a rather wide margin. Clampitt served 28 years as fire captain with the Charlotte Fire Department and returned to his hometown of Bryson City 10 years ago.

•Aaron Littlefield, 22, is a political science student at WCU and server at Bear Lake Reserve, who is graduating this May. He wants to be “a voice for the struggling business of WNC, support higher standards in education, and fight back against corruption in our government.”


120th House seat

Is this my state rep? Yes, if you live in Macon, Clay, Graham and Cherokee counties

About the race: The indefatigueable and apparently untouchable N.C. Rep. Roger West, R-Murphy, will once again run for this seat unopposed. 

Democratic primary: no

Republican primary: no


50th Senate seat

Is this my state senator? Yes, if you live in anywhere in the seven western counties of Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Swain, Graham, Clay and Cherokee.

About the race: The district is fairly evenly split, with neither the Republicans or Democrats able to claim a real leg up. The seat has flip-flopped between Republicans and Democrats twice in the past decade.

The race for this state Senate seat from the far western mountains usually is a local affair, but it garnered national media attention in 2010 and 2012 as a poster child for the flood of outside money from right-wing groups to influence regional races — allegedly part of a larger, far-reaching strategy to bankroll local campaigns as a way to amass state conservative majorities.  

N.C. Senator Jim Davis, R- Franklin, won the seat narrowly in 2010 by unseating the Democratic incumbent John Snow. Snow ran to get his seat back in 2012, but didn’t come close.

Nearly $1 million was spent by Davis’ campaign and by outside groups on Davis’ behalf in the 2012 election.

Democratic primary: yes

Republican primary: no


•N.C. Sen. Jim Davis, R-Franklin, is an orthodontist and two-term legislator. 


•Jane Hipps of Waynesville is a retired public educator with six degrees, including three master’s degrees. Her expertise was in science and math curriculum development and training. She has promised to make education one of her main areas of concern if elected. She is the widow of a former state senator and long-time district attorney in the region.

•Ron Robinson of Cullowhee is a management consultant who says the current GOP leadership in Raleigh does not represent the working people of the district and has called their policies extremist.


Judicial seats

District attorney

Do I vote in this race? Yes, if you live anywhere in the seven western counties.

About the race: District Attorney Mike Bonfoey, who has been the top prosecutor for the 30th judicial district for 10 years, is not running for reelection. That left the seat open for the taking. Two of the assistant district attorneys — colleagues who have worked together as prosecutors under Bonfoey for many years — are running. A toss-up in terms of party advantage, at least in terms of voter registration stats.

Democratic primary: no

Republican primary: no


•Ashley Welch, 36, an assistanct districy attorney from Macon County. Welch, who attended law school at UNC-Chapel Hill, is from Hendersonville. Her legal career has been spent solely as a prosecutor. She is married to the attorney for the Macon Sheriff’s office and does not have children.


•Jim Moore, 52, an assistant district attorney from Haywood County. Moore has spent a total of 15 years as an assistant district attorney and 12 years in various private legal practices in Waynesville. His wife is an attorney and he has three grown children. He is originally from Arkansas but has been in WNC for almost 30 years.


District Court Judge

Three District Court judges up for election in the seven western counties — Kris Earwood, Roy Wijiwickrama and Donna Forga — will walk back onto the bench. No candidates signed up to run against them.

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This Must Be the Place

  • This must be the place

    art theplaceClaire Lynch likes to blur lines.

    Born and raised in Upstate New York, she eventually moved away, crossing the Mason-Dixon Line for Alabama at age 12. She carried in her mind the sounds of the 1960s folk scene of Greenwich Village in Manhattan and show tunes echoing from the record player in her childhood home. Soon, she’d cross paths down South with country and bluegrass melodies radiating from Nashville and beyond. 

    Written on Wednesday, 01 October 2014 15:49