ASHE COUNTY-With candidate filing for the 2016 election season ending Dec. 21, multiple races are rounding into shape.
Each local race has multiple challengers – at least nine candidates have filed to run for the Ashe County Board of Commissioners – and at least one state-level incumbent has announced he won’t be seeking re-election in the new year.
An up-to-date list of candidates filing for each race can be found at JeffersonPost.com.
Packed county field
At least nine candidates have announced their plans to run for three available seats on the Ashe County Board of Commissioners. The seats currently held by Republicans Gary Roark, Brien Richardson and Larry Rhodes are all up for grabs next year.
Roark and Rhodes have re-filed to run in next year’s Republican primary. They’ll be joined in that race by former Ashe County Commissioner Judy Poe and Paula Perry of Guardian Insurance.
At least five Democrats will face off in a primary to determine which three will challenge for the three available county commission seats. The field includes Donna Weaver, Ashe County’s former Department of Social Services Director, Nancy Henry a longtime board of elections volunteer and a vocal supporter of Donna Weaver during a series of public hearings in November, former Ashe County Commissioner Richard Blackburn, retired state employee and longtime Ashe County High School Tennis Coach Larry Dix and retired teacher – and a current member of the Ashe County Board of Education – Polly Jones.
Soucek hangs it up
Republican state senator Dan Soucek announced on Dec. 17, that he won’t seek re-election once his current term expires in 2016. He currently holds the 45th District senate seat and represents Ashe, Alleghany, Avery, Caldwell and Watauga Counties.
North Carolina Senate Leader Phil Berger took to social media to release a statement following
the news of Soucek’s decision to not run again.
“Whether it was improving public education as a member of the North Carolina Senate, defending our freedoms as an Army helicopter pilot or aiding those in poverty during his many years of humanitarian work, Sen. Soucek has committed his life to helping and serving others,” said Berger. “Dan’s retirement is a big loss for the Senate and the people of his district, but his family deserves to have him back full-time.”
Soucek was first elected in 2010 and had initially planned to run again as he filed his candidacy notice in Watauga County earlier this month.
Three candidates have announced their intention to challenge for the seat Soucek will leave behind.
A Samaritan’s Purse executive, Deanna Ballard, will challenge the retiring President of Caldwell Community College Ken Boham in the Republican primary. Art Sherwood, a retired medical research professional from Richlands, is the lone Democrat in the race.
House race heats up
At least four candidates have filed to run for the North Carolina House of Representatives seat that represents Ashe and Watauga Counties.
That includes incumbent Republican Jonathan Jordan, who was first elected to the seat in 2010. He’ll face a challenge in the Republican primary Lewis Hendricks, a Blowing Rock resident who retired from the military two years ago.
Democrat Sue Counts – who lost to Jordan in the general election two years ago – has said she’ll again base her candidacy on the “environment, education and the economy,” and she squares off against Ronnie Marsh, a former fire marshal from Boone and Watauga County, in next year’s District 93 Democratic primary.
Earlier than usual
The 2016 election filing period began at noon on Dec. 1, and will run through noon on Dec. 21. That’s earlier than usual due to state law changes as part of the Voter Identification Verification Act of 2013. The law will require voters to present a valid photo I.D. at the polls – but it also pushes forward the dates for primary elections.
Primaries are scheduled for March 15, which means each county’s board of elections will need to have ballots ready by Jan. 25 to accommodate early voting.
Two Ashe County Board of education seats, those currently held by Dr. Lee Beckworth and C.B. Jones, will also be up for grabs next year. Those seats are non-partisan, however, so those races won’t see a March primary .
State level races include both the governor and lieutenant governor positions, while federal races include the U.S. Senate seat held by Richard Burr and Virginia Foxx’s 5th Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
We’ll update with candidate reactions as they become available.
Reach Adam Orr at 336-489-3058 or Twitter.com/AdamROrr.