By Nathan Ham
Voter turnout in Watauga County this year mirrors that of 2019, according to unofficial vote totals from yesterday’s election.
In 2019, official voting totals showed 2,131 votes were counted in the municipal elections for Boone, Blowing Rock, Beech Mountain and Seven Devils. That was 10.87% of the eligible voters that went to the polls in 2019. According to Matthew Snyder, Watauga County’s Director of Elections, there have been 2,136 votes counted for this year’s election with another 83 provisional ballots to be counted on Friday. The unofficial vote total, not counting the provisional ballots, accounts for 12.19% of the eligible voters this year. Final voting totals will be made official during the county canvas on Tuesday, November 9, at 11 a.m.
“We are happy for everyone that came out and voted over the last few weeks and we are very grateful to all the folks who were willing to be a candidate and serve their community. It takes a lot of time and effort to do that and congratulations to the candidates that won. I hope they have a successful time in office, I know they have a lot on their plate with a lot of issues facing the High Country,” Snyder said. “We thank all of the election officials that came out again during a pandemic to serve their fellow citizens and help facilitate the voting process, they did a wonderful job and we are really lucky to have them. Things from our side ran very smoothly. We’re grateful for the voters and all the partners in the community that allow us to use their facilities and assist us in the voting process. They are a bit part of the process and we are always grateful for their help. ”
According to Snyder, Blowing Rock had the largest voting turnout by percentage of the four municipalities in Watauga County.
The highest number of votes were counted in Boone with all five seats on the town council as well as the mayoral seat up for grabs. Todd Carter had the highest number of votes with 1,042 and Virginia Roseman was second with 1,027 votes. Carter and Roseman will receive four-year terms on the town council. Jon Dalton George had the third-highest vote total with 986 votes and will receive a two-year. In the race for the two unexpired seats that will come with two-year terms, Edie Tugman had the most votes with 1,109 and Rebecca Nenow had the second-highest total with 830 votes.
“I am so stunned and so honored. I really care about Boone. I have loved Boone with all the passion within me so all I can say is thank you for believing in me and thank you for giving me this opportunity and I hope I am going to make you proud,” Roseman said on Tuesday night. “I am ecstatic to see this council I am going to work with and I applaud everyone that put their name out there because I know how hard it is to run. I am so thankful for everyone who tried to get out there and make this an exciting election.”
Carter, who is the Chief Development Director for the Hospitality House in Boone, wanted to thank the citizens of Boone for believing in him and supporting him.
“Civic engagement has been a cornerstone of my family for generations. I am honored to continue that legacy,” he said. “I am a big believer in public service and it is the bedrock of our democracy and I always want to recognize and encourage that. I am very appreciative of the confidence placed in me by the Town of Boone voters and I am excited to continue working in this new role as I have been for the last 10 years to make Boone a more equitable, inclusive, affordable and welcoming place for everyone.”
Tim Futrelle ran unopposed to become the Mayor of Boone. He received 1,261 votes and will be the mayor for the next four years.
“I can’t say enough about how appreciative I am for the support that I’ve gotten from the community. I feel like everyone has had a real positive response and so many folks have worked to help me get elected,” Futrelle said Tuesday night. “I look forward to getting to work and doing everything we can to help create positive change for Boone. I think that we are going to get a lot of fresh ideas and new energy. I’m really honored and excited about the opportunity.”
Futrelle added that he was happy to see all of the candidates put forward a positive campaign throughout the process.
“That means a lot to what everyone is willing to bring to the table so we can really get to work on behalf of the people in Boone,” he said.
In Blowing Rock, Mayor Charlie Sellers ran unopposed until a late write-in candidacy announcement from former councilmember Sue Sweeting. Sellers still won easily with 406 votes (81.6%). He will serve another four-year term as the town’s mayor. Doug Matheson (411 votes), Pete Gherini (363 votes) and Melissa Pickett (266 votes) will all serve four-year terms on the Blowing Rock Town Council.
All three town council incumbents in Beech Mountain ran unopposed. J. Weidner Abernethy (31 votes) and Erin Gonyea (30 votes) will serve four-year terms and Barry Kaufman (25 votes) will serve a two-year term.
In Seven Devils, Leigh Sasse (47 votes) and Brad Lambert (39 votes) will serve four-year terms on the town council and Jeffrey Williams (30 votes) will serve a two-year term. Wayne Bonomo (34 votes) ran unopposed to finish out a two-year term on the council.