By Jesse Wood
Democrats regained control of the Watauga County Board of Commissioners, according to unofficial election results tallied on Tuesday evening.
Incumbents John Welch, a Democrat, and Perry Yates, a Republican, will remain on the Watauga County Board of Commissioners, while fellow incumbent Republican David Blust got the boot. Welch and Yates will receive four-year terms as the two highest vote getters.
Democrat Larry Turnbow, who lost to David Blust by about 300 votes in 2014, returned the favor this election cycle by receiving 514 more votes than his opponent. Turnbow will serve a two-year term.
In a statement released shortly after his victory, Turnbow said, “I’d like to thank everyone who worked so hard on our campaign over the past few months. I am honored to be elected to serve on the Watauga County Board of Commissioners, and I look forward to working together to deal effectively with the issues in front of us – our schools, clean air and water, recreation, good jobs in low-impact businesses, and open and responsive government. Thank you for your confidence, and for giving me the opportunity to serve you.”
Welch easily beat Shukis by about 3,000 votes, and Yates easily won by about 1,400 votes. On Tuesday evening, Yates started out by saying how he appreciated the “good, clean race” that he and his Democratic opponent, Diane Blanks, ran over the past several months.
“I respect Diane,” Yates said. “I just appreciate that the county put faith in me again to try to do what’s right and try to look from every viewpoint, from the citizen’s viewpoint and do what’s best for all the citizens in the county.”
Blanks released a statement on Wednesday morning:
“I got into this race to draw attention to previously overlooked issues concerning local working folks, seniors and job seekers looking for a living wage. I hope I’ve done that.
“I am particularly proud of the fact that my opponent and I have run a clean campaign–talking about the issues, with no pointless personal attacks. I am deeply grateful to all who supported me, both through their contributions and their on-the-ground efforts.
“I trust that Perry Yates, who is also local, will carry on the important dialog about a good future for ALL of Watauga’s people in future commission meetings. I wish him well.”
According to Watauga County Board of Elections Member Stella Anderson, a Democrat, the county has nearly 500 provisional ballots to be counted during canvass on Nov. 18. Note that the number of provisional ballots – even if all are deemed valid – is less than the margin of victory of all three races. While it looks as if the results will hold up, nothing is official until canvassing.
After swearing into office later in the year, the new board members will join Republican Jimmy Hodges and Democrat Billy Kennedy on the board.
See unofficial vote totals below from State Board of Elections. Scroll front page of HCPress.com to see more election coverage.