By Jesse Wood
When the clock struck noon, four candidates were lined up outside the Watauga County Board of Elections office to file their candidacy in the 2016 general election.
Steve Combs was the first one to file. Combs is running for a seat on the Watauga County Board of Education. If Combs is elected, this would be his fourth term on the board after a four-year hiatus.
Combs said that he had small kids whenever he decided to not run for re-election in 2012. Now, those kids are a bit older and Combs will be on the campaign trail in the months ahead.
“I’m ready to go back to move our education system forward,” Combs said.
Sue Counts, a Democrat, was next in line. “I am very excited,” Counts said.
She is running for the N.C. House, District 93, which is the seat that N.C. Rep. Jonathan Jordan occupies. Counts retired as director of the Watauga County Cooperative Extension in 2008. Jordan defeated Counts two years ago.
“The people of Watauga and Ashe County know they deserve better. I’m determined to deliver a victory for all of us, no matter who we are, and for making sure everyone has to play by the same rules and that everyone gets a fair shake. That’s not what’s happening now, and that’s why I will fight hard to win this seat back for the people of our district,” Counts said in a statement.
Counts is hosting a “campaign kickoff breakfast” on Thursday, Dec. 10, at the Agricultural Conference Center at 9 a.m. in Boone.
Larry Turnbow, a Democrat, is running for David Blust’s seat on the Watauga County Board of Commissioners once again. Turnbow lost to Blust in 2014 by about 400 votes.
In a statement, Turnbow said that his primary emphasis is on education, citing the “anti-education climate” in Raleigh. He also mentioned that Watauga is “losing its small-town community spirit” and “too many Watauga families subsist on low-wage service jobs.”
“I believe Watauga County needs stronger leadership. We’re losing ground in Watauga County on our quality of life and we all know it. It will take vision and leadership to preserve what’s best about our county, while bringing in the low-impact, good-paying jobs our families need,” Turnbow said.
Amy Shook is also running for the Watauga County Register of Deeds. While she is the current Register of Deeds in the county, this is the first time she’s filing for the position. When Joann Townsend retired after more than a decade at the helm and more than 30 years in the Watauga Register of Deeds office in January 2015, Shook was appointed to the position by the Watauga County Board of Commissioners.
Along with the two years of experience as Register of Deeds by the time Election Day in November arrives, Shook also has seven prior years experience as Deputy Register of Deeds.
“Experience, along with knowledge of General Statutes that govern the office, state and local standards & office procedures, are imperative for this position!” Shook said in a statement. “I take my job as Register of Deeds seriously, as not only am I the primary custodian for public records, but I must protect and maintain the integrity of the records. I love my job and love serving the customers and people of Watauga County!”
Minutes after the previous four filed, Lew Hendricks filed as well. Hendricks is running against Jonathan Jordan to represent our region in the N.C. House.
Here is Hendricks’ statement after filing:
“Jonathan Jordan hasn’t earned the right to have a free pass in the Republican primary. The Republican and Independent voters in Watauga and Ashe County deserve to have a choice. I will give them that choice. A vote for me is a vote for an unwavering commitment to public education.
“It is a vote to represent the best interests of the people of Watauga and Ashe County and not the special interests. These are the two most glaring differences I offer to the Republican and Independent voters in the 2016 primary. Politicians love to talk about their support of public education and representing the best interest of their constituents.
“It’s time they start doing it.”
The candidate-filing period ends on Monday, Dec. 21, at noon.
“We have about three weeks. Hopefully, we’ll have a good turnout and lots of folks filing to run,” Watauga County Elections Director Matt Snyder said.
According to a list compiled by Snyder on the county elections’ website, Sen. Dan Soucek and Watauga County Board of Education Member Ron Henries also filed for another term for their respective office.
These are some of the seats up for election locally:
- District 1- Yates seat
- District 2- Welch seat
- District 4- Blust seat
Register of Deeds: Amy Shook seat
- Ron Henries;
- Brenda Cole Reese;
- Barbara Kinsey seats
Soil & Water: Angela Gragg seat (filing for this race doesn’t begin until June 13th and runs until July 1st)
24th Judicial District Seats:
- Superior Court- Horne seat
- District Court-McEntire seat
- District Court- Eggers-Gryder seat
- District Court- Harrison seat
N.C. House and Senate seats (Sen. Dan Soucek and Rep. Jonathan Jordan in Watauga) and the U.S. 5th District Seat (U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx).