By Nathan Ham
A good crowd turned out for the 2018 Watauga County Meet the Candidates Forum at the Watauga County Courthouse on Tuesday night, co-sponsored by the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce and the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce.
Candidates competing for votes in six different races provided opening and closing statements and answered questions in a round robin format where each candidate answered the same question from a moderator. Candidates for the Watauga County Clerk of Superior Court (incumbent Diane Cornett Deal and challenger Travis Critcher) and candidates for the Watauga County Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor (Chris Hughes and Bill Moretz) were each given time to introduce themselves and explain why they were running for office. Watauga County Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor candidate Joey Clawson was not at the forum.
Incumbent Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx and Democratic challenger DD Adams were the first to answer questions seeking election for the U.S. House of Representatives District 5 seat.
Next up, Watauga County Commissioner candidates had their chance to share their thoughts on what Watauga County needs. Incumbent Democrat Billy Kennedy is being challenged by Republican Tim Hodges in the District 3 race. Incumbent Democrat Larry Turnbow is facing off against Republican challenger and former county commissioner David Blust in District 4 and in the District 5 race, Republican Tommy Sofield and Democrat Charlie Wallin are vying for the seat.
North Carolina State Senate and House of Representatives candidates had their chance to speak following the commissioners. Incumbent Republican Deanna Ballard, who was unable to attend to the event, is being challenged by Democrat Wes Luther for the District 45 Senate seat. In the District 93 House race, incumbent Republican Jonathan C. Jordan is taking on Democratic challenger Ray Russell, founder of Ray’s Weather Center.
Board of education hopefuls Jay Fenwick (incumbent), Danny Watts, Gary L. Childers (incumbent), Steve Combs and Jason K. Cornett (incumbent) shared their thoughts on Watauga County Schools and answered questions that included school safety and funding issues.
The final group of questions went to the 2018 sheriff candidates. Incumbent Democrat Len (L.D.) Hagaman faces a challenge from Republican and former North Carolina Highway Patrol Officer David Searcy.
Video responses of each candidate as well as candidate profiles for each race will be coming soon.