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Six Candidates Have Filed for Avery County Government Offices; Foxx Will No Longer Represent Avery After Judicial Ruling

By Tim Gardner

As of today, six candidates have filed for county-wide government seats that will be open in Avery County in 2020.

For Clerk of Court, Interim Clerk of Court Teresa Benfield has filed, along with Theresa Lewis King and Linda Webb. Benfield has served in the interim role since the retirement earlier this year of longtime Clerk of Court Lisa Daniels.

All three candidates have worked in various capacities in the judicial system.

For Register of Deeds, incumbent Renee DelIinger has filed for re-election as has Incumbent Wood Hall (Woodie) Young, Jr. for County Commissioner.

Benfield, King, Webb, Dellinger and Young, Jr. are all Republicans.

For the non-partisan Board of Education, Ruth Shirley is the only candidate to file so far. Shirley is a long-time teacher and principal in the Avery School System.

U.S. Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) will no longer represent Avery County in 2020. The former president of Mayland Community College, located on the Avery-Mitchell County line, has announced her intentions to run for re-election in 2020 to the US House of Representatives in the recently realigned NC 5th District.

Last month, a new congressional districting map was passed in the North Carolina General Assembly that made changes to the 5th district.

The new 5th district includes Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, Wilkes, Alexander, Caldwell, Burke, Cleveland and Gaston counties, eastern Rutherford County and a small segment of northern Catawba County.

Avery, Surry, Stokes, Yadkin, and Forsyth are no longer part of the 5th district.

A judicial ruling will alter Western North Carolina’s political map, eliminating the line that split the city of Asheville into two congressional districts.

The change follows a Dec. 2 unanimous decision by a three-judge state panel not to review a quickly drawn remedial map of North Carolina’s 13 congressional districts. That map was drawn by the Republican-majority General Assembly, which has the power to redistrict every ten years after a census is conducted.

The panel on Oct. 28 blocked the old map mandating that it likely amounted to an illegal partisan gerrymander. That map had resulted in the election of ten Republicans and three Democrats even though statewide the number of votes were close to evenly split between the parties. The division of Asheville and Buncombe weakened progressive votes and was considered by many to make the 11th District an easy win for far-right conservative Mark Meadows, as well as the 10th for Republican Patrick McHenry of Gaston County.

Political observers have said that the new lines would likely reduce the Republican statewide advantage by two seats, though the 11th was not one of them. Democrats generally declared the map still amounted to an illegally-engineered partisan advantage for Republicans. But the judges said it was too close to the March 3 primaries to consider detailed redistricting arguments.

The new 11th District will cover 17 counties: Avery, Mitchell, Yancey, Madison, Buncombe, McDowell, Polk, Henderson, Transylvania, Jackson, Haywood, Swain, Macon, Clay, Graham, Cherokee and half of Rutherford.

Filing ends at 12:00 Noon on Friday, Dec. 20 for candidates seeking an Avery County government seat. Flings must be done at the Avery County Board of Elections office, located in the Avery Court House in Newland.

The 2020 Primary Election will be held on March 3, 2020, and the General Election on November 3, 2020.

Elections will be held for federal, state, regional and local government offices in 2020.