Incumbent William Shelton beat challenger James Bo Brown by almost a two-to-one margin to win the Democratic spot on the November ballot for the Whittier/Dillsboro district seat. The race was the only one of three county commissioners seats up for grabs in Jackson County this year that had a contested primary.
Shelton said the difference in the race came down to the fact that the Jackson County board has tried hard to push the county forward, even during one of the harshest economic climates in history.
“I think it was a choice between moving forward and moving backwards,” Shelton said. “With all the mistakes we’ve made, we’ve tried to lay the groundwork for future growth when the economy turns around, and it will turn around.”
Shelton said he was humbled both by the support he received during the primary run, and also by the significant vote count of his challenger.
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners has been criticized for giving pay raises to some of its high-ranking employees, for losing a fight with Duke Energy over the Dillsboro Dam, and for enacting stricter building regulations.
Shelton said his board was elected during a boom and worked through a bust and has at all times been proactive about its agenda.
“We’ve tackled a lot of controversy,” Shelton said. “We’ve inherited a lot of controversy and created a lot of controversy. We have not shied away from the issues, and I guess I should say I feel lucky to get the nomination.”
Shelton will run against a Republican candidate in the fall. He said that election will likely focus on the economy and jobs.
Democrat – one winner advances
William Shelton: 2,417
James Brown: 1,315
*The winner of this race will face a Republican challenger in the fall. There was no primary for county commissioner chairman or the commissioner for the Sylva district, although both will see competition in the fall election.