JB Holds Off Phillips in Blowing Rock Mayoral Race; For Council, Sweeting, Pickett and Matheson Victorious

Published Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 1:33 pm
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Lawrence stands in front of Blowing Rock Town Hall for the last persuasive push on Election Day. Photo by Ken Ketchie

By Jesse Wood

Nov. 6, 2013. Unlike the races in Boone, Beech Mountain and Seven Devils, the Town of Blowing Rock saw incumbents both win and lose on Election Day.

Incumbent Mayor J.B. Lawrence easily held off challenger and current Councilman Dan Phillips by garnering 452 votes, according to unofficial results of the 2013 municipal elections. Phillips received 160 votes.

Lawrence has been the mayor of Blowing Rock since 1997 and was a member of the town council for nearly 10 years before becoming mayor. He will now serve two more years.

“It feels great. It’s a big victory, but it’s still humbling that the people of the town continue to have confidence in me, and I promise to never let them down,” Lawrence said on Friday.

Looking forward into next term, Lawrence said he anticipates development to open up off of U.S. 321 north of the parkway near where the new hospital project is to be built. He concluded that he hopes development will continue along that stretch in a manner that is fitting and in character with Blowing Rock.

The race between Phillips and Lawrence had its heated moments. For example, see this video of the candidate forum in Blowing Rock during the debate between the two mayoral candidates.

Since Phillips will remain on the council, the two will continue to work together, and Lawrence didn’t seemed concerned about that notion.

“I think we can put this behind us and move on and do things in a unified manner,” Lawrence said.

Blowing Rock Town Council

In the council race, one incumbent lost and another incumbent and challenger won.

Perhaps the surprise of the 2013 municipal elections was incumbent Tommy Klutz coming in a distant fourth place, garnering 222 votes in the unofficial tally.

Incumbent Doug Matheson came away with the most votes at 425. See the totals below. Top two vote getters receive a four-year term while third place will receive a two-year term.

  • Doug Matheson: 425
  • Sue Sweeting: 410
  • Ray Pickett: 279
  • Tommy Klutz: 222
  • Laurin Carter: 180
  • David Barker: 145

Sue Sweeting, a former Watauga County Board of Commissioner from 1998 to 2002, said she was excited to work with her peers and for the people of Blowing Rock. She also mentioned that she was humbled for the votes. She noted that listening to concerns of the neighborhoods of Blowing Rock and the “love” of politics prompted her to run for council after not being in office for more than 10 years.

And like the mayoral race, the council races were a bit contentious as well. One campaign mailer circulating around town claimed that Sweeting would bring a “Boone Agenda” to Blowing Rock. Sweeting acknowledged the “negativity” of the races but said she was surprised, in what is supposed to be non-partisan municipal races, that the mailer was funded by the Watauga County Republican Party. 

After settling into her seat on the council, Sweeting said she would first like to address concerns of residents that she heard while walking the streets, such as culverts overflowing in backyards, unrepaired roads and “very, very deep” ditches that are full of leaves.

“Storm water runoff seems to be an issue. We had so much water this summer that it is No. 1 on a lot of people’s list,” Sweeting said.

Ray Pickett, who runs the Blowing Rock Inn, will experience his first time in office.

“I am excited to be in the decision-making process and very honored the people of Blowing Rock had enough faith in me to elect me,” Pickett said, adding that after he settles into office, he will focus on “long-range” plans first. 

See the full election results for all the municipalities in Watauga and Avery counties here. 

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