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Blowing Rock Civic Association Hosting Commissioners Candidate Forum This Thursday

By Nathan Ham

Blowing Rock citizens and other Watauga County residents are invited to attend a special round table discussion and audience Q&A with the three current Watauga County Commissioners and their challengers.

The event is happening this Thursday, October 4 at the American Legion Building in Blowing Rock, located at 333 Wallingford Street. Light refreshments will be served at 6:15 p.m. with the program and audience questions beginning at 7 p.m.

Incumbent Democrat Billy Kennedy is being challenged by Republican Tim Hodges in the District 3 race. In the District 4 race, Republican David Blust is challenging Democratic incumbent Larry Turnbow. In the District 5 race, Democrat Charlie Wallin is battling Republican Tommy Sofield for the position. Current incumbent Jimmy Hodges is not seeking reelection.

In addition to the six commissioner candidates, both sheriff candidates, Sheriff Len Hagaman and Republican challenger David Searcy, will be on hand to meet area citizens, but will not participate in the round table event.

The format will feature six questions composed by Blowing Rock citizens that reflect on some of the important countywide issues that affect the community. Each candidate will draw a question at random and none of the candidates will have access to the questions in advance. The candidate will have a certain amount of time to answer the questions and there will be time allotted for a rebuttal from the other candidates.

The Blowing Rock Civic Association was formed several years ago, initially to represent citizens who could not vote here but had property and business interests in our community. Its 500-plus membership has grown to include many locals since that time. Their mission is to keep citizens informed of issues that directly or indirectly impact their lives and property values.

The BRCA is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit, bi-partisan organization.

In other political events coming up, the Appalachian State Politics Club is sponsoring a debate on Tuesday, October 2 at 7 p.m. between Rep. Jonathan Jordan and Democratic challenger Ray Russell.

The debate will happen in room 114 of the Belk Library on the campus of Appalachian State University.

Incumbent Jordan is running for re-election on November 6. Jordan, who was first elected to the chamber in 2010 and has served four consecutive terms, also currently serves as Deputy Majority Whip. Russell announced his intentions to run as a Democrat in 2018 for the N.C. House District 93 seat currently held by Jordan on October 9 of last year.

Dr. William Hicks, assistant professor of political science in the Department of Government and Justice Studies at Appalachian State University, will moderate the debate. Admission is free.

On Tuesday, October 23, the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce and the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce will co-sponsor a “Meet the Candidates Forum” from 5:30-9:30 p.m. inside the large courtroom at the Watauga County Courthouse.

The questions that will be asked will allow for candidates to inform the local business community about their platform, goals, and objectives. Questions will be asked by a moderator and will come from audience submission as well as suggestions from the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce Government Relations committee and the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce Community and Government committee.

Candidates running for US House of Representatives, State House & Senate, and Watauga County Commissioner, Board of Education, and Sheriff have been invited to participate. In addition, Court System candidates (Judges, DA, Clerk) and candidates for Watauga County Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor will be given a chance to briefly introduce themselves to the audience.

The event is free and open to the public. RSVP is not required, but please note that seating is limited in the courtroom. The event will be simulcast live on WATA (1450 AM / 96.5 FM).

Schedule of Candidates:

5:30 – Welcome & Introductions

5:35 – Candidates for US House of Representatives

6:20 – Introductions of Court System candidates (Judges, DA, Clerk)

6:40 – Candidates for Watauga County Commissioner

7:25 – Candidates for NC Senate, NC House of Representatives

8:10 – Introductions of Watauga Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor candidates

8:20 – Candidates for Watauga County Board of Education

9:05 – Candidates for Watauga County Sherriff


Questions will be asked of all the candidates in a ‘round robin’ format; each having an opportunity to answer first, but all answering the same question. The audience will be allowed to submit written questions during the forum. All questions will be asked by the moderator. Each response will have a 1-minute time limit and each candidate will have a 2-minute closing statement. This forum is not intended to be a debate between candidates or between the audience and the candidates, but rather an opportunity for the citizenry to hear each candidate’s position on topics important to all. In order to maintain decorum, political literature and signage will not be allowed in the room.

If you have any questions, call David Jackson at 828-264-2225.