By Tim Gardner
Three first-time political candidates were the top vote-getters in their respective races to highlight Tuesday’s primary in Avery County.
Mike Henley won the Sheriff’s race. He received 2,843 votes. Lee Buchanan got 1077; and Russell Carver received 173.
All three have law enforcement experience. Henley is a former Town of Banner Elk policeman and a former North Carolina Highway Patrolman. Buchanan is currently Avery County’s Chief Deputy, while Carver is a former Avery Deputy.
Henley won by a wide enough margin to avoid a potential run-off or second primary.
With three seats open in the County Commissioners race, Robert Burleson received the highest number of votes with 1,963. Incumbents Dennis Aldridge and Wood Hall (Woodie) Young, Jr. followed with the next highest voting numbers. Aldridge got 1,853 votes and Young, Jr. 1,812. The remainder of the votes were as follows: Derek Buchanan 1,674; Blake Vance 1,430; and Glenn R. Johnson 1,179.
The Sheriff and County Commissioners races were Republican primaries.
In the non-partisan Board of Education race, winners to fill the two seats open were: Randy Singleton, who got the most votes with 1,878, and incumbent Patricia (Pat) Edwards with 1,355. Linda Webb finished in third place, collecting 1,093 votes; Dennis Brown was fourth with 1,042; Casey Lee received 1,029 votes; incumbent Jane E. Bumgarner got 803; and Dustin Trice 446.
There were also 21 write-in votes for the Board of Education.
Henley, Burleson and Singleton have never been candidates for any public county office in Avery until this election.
Incumbent Teresa Benfield is seeking re-election as Clerk of Superior Court, but she did not have to run in the May 17 Primary Election as she had no opposition.
There is no run-off in the Board of Education race since it’s a non-partisan race and those who won the primary are automatically elected to that office. But Sheriff, County Commissioner and Clerk of Court will be on the ballots for the General Election on Tuesday, November 8 and each of those three offices can also have write-in candidates then.
In order to run in the General Election as a write-in candidate, that person or persons must obtain a petition of a minimum of 500 signatures of Avery County’s registered voters endorsing such a candidacy. And that petition would have to be submitted to the Avery County Board of Elections officials at least 90 days (August 9 deadline) before the General Election.
In another Republican primary race involving an Avery County native or resident, Virginia Foxx of Banner Elk garnered 3,049 votes in Avery County in her bid for the United States House of Representatives (Congress) District 5. Her opponent, Michael Ackerman of Boone got 823 votes in Avery County.
Also, Spruce Pine (located in Southern neighboring Mitchell County) native Ralph Hise got 2,072 votes in Avery County and Watauga County native Deanna Ballard got 1,652 votes in Avery in the Republican North Carolina State Senate District 47 Primary race.
Avery’s election results are available online at:
36.07 percent (4,477) of 12,411 voters cast ballots in Avery County in this Primary Election.
Avery Elections officials caution that all primary results are unofficial until an official elections canvass is conducted on Friday, May 27.
Dozens of candidates for federal, state government and legislative and judicial seats also appeared on primary ballots and those primary election results set the fall election lineups.
All county, regional, state and federal primary final results can be accessed at: https://www.ncsbe.gov/election-results.