Parsons was the top vote-getter with 42 percent of the vote while Carson was close behind with 33 percent of the vote. The third candidate in the Democratic primary — Mitchell Jenkins — received 24 percent of the vote.
Carson and Parsons will now move on to face Republicans Kenneth Parton and H. Robert Lowe in the November election and then the top two vote-getters regardless of party affiliation will win the two open seats. Kenneth Parton is currently finishing his first term as commissioner while Lowe is a newcomer to Swain politics.
Carson, 57, is a Swain County native and a licensed plumber who has also spent 34 years as a rescue squad member and paramedic. He served one term as a county commissioner and two terms as the commission chairman. He ran for a third term as chairman in 2018 but lost to fellow Democratic commissioner Ben Bushyhead during the primary. With only 18 percent of voters casting a ballot in the primary, Bushyhead received 59 percent to Carson’s 41 percent.
Parsons was appointed to fill the unexpired term for Commissioner David Monteith, who passed away in early 2017 — not long after being elected to another four-year term on the board. Parsons then had to run in 2018 to keep the seat for another two years. He won the seat with 57 percent of the vote and is now running for a four-year term.
Parsons, 64, grew up in Swain County and had a long career working for UPS. He also served on the Swain County School Board for 16 years before becoming a county commissioner.
Jenkins — a former Swain County maintenance director — first ran as a write-in candidate during the 2018 election for Swain County commission chairman against Bushyhead but only garnered 800 votes.
During the 2016 Primary Election, Swain County’s voter turnout was at 30 percent, which is about 3,075 out of 10,121 registered voters. For the 2020 Primary, voter turnout in the county dipped to 27 percent — or 2,594 out of 9,526 registered voters.