Watauga County candidate guide

Andrew Rice, Reporter

As the Nov. 8 midterm elections approach with more than 40 candidates on the ballot, Watauga County voters have many decisions to make. To help clarify the process, The Appalachian has compiled biographical information about candidates as well as information on the positions up for grabs. 

National Elections

In the United States Senate, Democrat Cheri Beasley, Republican Ted Budd, Libertarian Shannon Bray and Green Party candidate Matthew Hoh look to race for Senator Richard Burr’s seat as he finishes the remainder of his term. 

The national Senate race is the only one on the ballot to include third party candidates. 

The Senate is made up of two candidates from each state comprising a body of 100 representatives. Each candidate serves six year terms but can be elected twice. 

Representatives in the Senate vote on bills, laws, amendments, treaties, nominations and many more as part of their job. 

Another national office on the ballot this season is for the House of Representatives, which bases its representation on state population. Members of the House serve two year terms and are up for reelection every other even numbered year, but there are no limits on the number of terms they can serve.

North Carolina has 14 representatives as of the 2022 midterms, which is based on the 2020 census. Republican Virginia Foxx is seeking reelection against Democrat Kyle Parrish in this election for representation of North Carolina’s fifth congressional district, which includes Watauga, Wilkes, Ashe, Alleghany, Caldwell, Burke, Gaston, Cleveland, Alexander and part of Rutherford County. 

Statewide Elections

As well as national offices, two positions for state Supreme Court associate justices are being contested this year. The North Carolina Supreme Court is the state’s highest court. Justices elected to the court are responsible for having final say in legal matters regarding state law. 

Initial terms in this position last seven years and subsequent terms last until they either choose to retire or reach the mandatory retirement at age 70. 

Republican Richard Dietz and Democrat Lucy Inman will compete for seat three of the North Carolina Supreme Court. The seat is currently held by Democrat Robin Hudson, who has held the position since 2007. 

Seat five is contested between Democrat Sam Ervin IV, seeking reelection, and Republican Trey Allen.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals is also holding elections in four of its 15 positions. The Court of Appeals reviews trial cases for errors of law or legal procedure in the state. Members can either be elected or selected by the governor to serve the court with an eight year term limit.

Republican Julee Flood and Democrat Carolyn Thompson are challenging for seat eight. The seat was previously held by Judge Lucy Inman.

Republican incumbent Donna Stroud will face Democrat challenger Brad A. Salmon for seat nine. 

Seat 10 is between Republican John M. Tyson, who is seeking reelection, and newcomer Democrat Gale Adams.

Democrat Judge Darren Jackson and Republican Judge Michael Stading are running against each other for seat 11.

The North Carolina State Senate is made up of 50 representatives across North Carolina where elections are held every two years with two term limits. 

When voting for state senate, Watauga voters selecting candidates will find Republican incumbent Ralph Hise is the only candidate on the ballot for this position.

The North Carolina House of Representatives consists of 120 members who serve two year terms. Members of the House convene to pass legislation for North Carolina. 

Republican Ray Pickett is seeking reelection against Democrat Ben Massey for representation of district 93 which includes Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany counties. 

Representation in district 87 which includes a part of Watauga County and Caldwell County and will be a contest between Republican incumbent Destin Hall and Democrat Barbara Kirby. 

District Elections

There are also two district offices for Watauga County voters to check off on their ballots this season. A seat has been left open on the district court, and voters will find Republican Matt Rupp is the only candidate on the ballot for the position. 

There is also only one candidate, Republican Seth Banks, on the ballot for District Attorney. The district attorney is the elected public official who represents the state in the prosecution of all criminal matters.

County Elections

The board of commissioners is holding elections for three of its positions. The board of commissioners is a county position and consists of five representatives. 

Board of commissioners member Carrington Pertalion is seeking to be replaced on the board by Republican Todd Castle or Democrat Angela King.

Democrat Billy Kennedy looks to retain his position on the board against Republican Braxton Eggers.

Republican Melissa Tausche will face Larry Turnbow in his reelection bid this season. 

Democrat Holly Fehl and Republican Charles Haynes are competing for the position of clerk of the Superior Court of North Carolina. The clerk is responsible for maintaining all record-keeping functions of the Superior Court. 

Incumbent Democrat Len Hagaman Jr. is running for sheriff in Watauga County in November but will be challenged by Republican David Searcy.

Nonpartisan Elections

This election year, there is also a nonpartisan race where voters select three of the six candidates for the Board of Education. The BOE sets educational policy for the county and ensures the following of state education principles. 

Board chairman Gary Childers and board members Jay Fenwick and Marshall Ashcraft are all seeking reelection. Newcomers to the race include Chad Cole, Jennie Hanifan and Dustin Cole Kerley.

Watagua voters have the option to write in up to three candidates for the board of education on their ballots. Board members elected to the BOE will serve four-year terms.

The last nonpartisan office that will hold an election this season will be for the Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor. This position will oversee the collaboration between public and private organizations in using conservation practices to address issues across the state like soil erosion, flood damage and water quality problems. 

Two candidates may be selected for this position, including Chris Hughes, Billy Moretz and J. Ballard Reynolds. Voters are also given the option to write in up to two candidates for this position. 

For more information on ways to vote and to access a sample ballot, voters can visit the North Carolina State Board of Elections website.