Candidates evenly split on North Shore Road

Some voters in Swain County consider the North Shore Road a litmus test for candidates in the county commissioners race and base their decision accordingly. The Swain County Board voted 4 to 1 four years ago in favor of a $52 million cash settlement in lieu of the road.


Depending on who gets elected, the county’s “official” position could change. It is unclear how much sway the local commissioners would ultimately have on the decision anyway, but it’s worth pointing out the candidates’ positions. (For more about the candidates, see profiles beginning on this page)

Candidates for chairman: pick one

Glenn Jones

Jones has advocated for a cash settlement in lieu of building the road.

“Maybe 40 years ago they should have built it. But it has drug on and on. If someone owed you a debt for 60 years, you are never going to get it. Now the environmentalists have weighed in and you have them to deal with. You also have the $600 million price tag on the road to deal with. You have two very big items staring you in the face. You will never build the road.”

Jim Douthit

“An agreement was made and it is time they uphold this agreement. I think the federal government is distrusted so much nowadays they need to uphold their word.” Douthit cited the preliminary conclusions of the environmental analysis commissioned by the park service over the past four years. The study said there would be no “significant” long-term environmental impact from the road’s construction.

Commissioner candidates: pick four

Phillip Carson

“The correct thing for them to do 64 years ago was build a road. And that’s what I would vote for. I feel like they agreed to build it and should have built it a long time ago. But I also feel like $52 million is a drop in the bucket compared to the road cost.”

Carson supports a countywide vote. “Let people say ‘yah’ or ‘nay’ and then pursue whatever that is.”

Mike Clampitt

“I am for the North Shore Road. It was a written agreement between the federal government and the local people. It would help the economy and growth of this area by giving more access to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the North Carolina side. Right now it is very limited and dead-ended.”

James King

“I think the road should be built because it was promised to our ancestors. A promise is a promise. There would have to be some benefit to the county. It would put more tourists in this area. If the federal government says ‘No, it would never come,’ then a settlement should be for the amount it would cost to build the road.”

Genevieve Lindsay

Lindsay is on the current board of commissioners. She has supported the county’s current official position in favor of a cash settlement.

David Monteith

“I support the North Shore Road. My heritage is not for sale, period.”

Monteith voted against the resolution passed by the other sitting commissioners in favor of a cash settlement. Monteith has actively lobbied for the North Shore Road for years.

Steve Moon

Moon leans toward the cash settlement due to logistics.

“The county commissioners will have an opinion but the final decision won’t be left up to them. It’s been 64 years. If they were going to build it they would have built it back then. The environmentalists have a lot more power now than then. So some kind of compensation is due to Swain County.”

Deborah Ramsey Patterson

“What was good for Swain County half a century ago is not necessarily what is good for Swain County today. Would a settlement benefit Swain County more? Absolutely.”

But Patterson supports a countywide vote to determine the “official” stance of the county.

“I don’t think it should be up to five people. I think it should be up to all the people.”

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