Low Turnout, High Spirits

Article Published: Nov. 5, 2009 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Low Turnout, High Spirits

Loretta Clawson and Rennie Brantz share a laugh as they call supporters on Tuesday night after learning of their re-election to the posts of mayor and Boone town council member, respectively.

Photo by Mark Mitchell

Although there will be some changes, incumbents tended to rule the day in local town elections Tuesday.

Watauga County results, based on 94 percent of precincts reporting, are posted below.

For the town of Boone, incumbent mayor Loretta Clawson took 52 percent of votes with 787. Tim Wilson came in with 474 votes, while John J. Mena netted 237. There were seven write-in votes.

Three seats were available for Boone town council. Jamie Leigh took the majority with 937 votes. Incumbent Rennie Brantz was second with 884, while newcomer Andy Ball netted 828. Matthew C. Long turned up 510 votes, Harold Frazier with 492, Grant N. Holder, 189, Thomas Benjamin Wilhite, 62. There were 24 write-in votes.

Clawson received more than half of the mayoral votes at 52 percent of the 1,505 cast. She received 787 votes.

"We've had a very positive campaign this year from all of the candidates, as opposed to the 2007 election," she said. "We have many projects in the works, like the Land Use Master Plan and urban forestry. I look forward to working hard for the next four years, just like I have for the last four."

Clawson is entering her 12th year on the town council, including four years as mayor.

Clawson will serve a four-year term. In previous elections, the mayor's term was set at two years. The council voted earlier this year to change the length of term.

Brantz has served four years on the council and also serves on the town's historic preservation commission.

"I am looking forward to continuing to serve the people of Boone," he said.

The council will now consist of experienced members, an accountant and a student bringing new ideas, Brantz added.

Leigh, who estimates knocking on 1,500 doors prior to the election, took the most votes in the council race at 937.

"I listened more than I talked and feel like I have some ideas," Leigh said of her campaign. "Fiscal responsibility is what I ran on and I intend to follow through on that."

Leigh owns an accounting business in Boone.

Ball is a senior ASU student majoring in government and public policy.

"It has been a good experience for my first campaign. I was able to get out and meet hundreds of Boone voters. I am excited to transition from community and volunteer involvement to serving on the council," he said.

This will be the first time in 20 years, according to Ball, the town has elected an ASU student to the town council.

"Having a student on the council and county commission [Tim Futrelle] at the same time speaks volumes to the attitudes of voters in Boone and Watauga County toward students and the university," Ball said. "I hope I can help to improve the relationship between the town and university.
Those doors are already cracked and half-open."

Two other town candidates were present in the courtroom as results were announced.

John J. Mena ran in the mayoral race, receiving 237 votes.

"Everything has been very cordial," Mena said. "I am a neophyte. I've never gotten involved in politics before and it's been an eye-opening experience. I have been talking and listening to individuals for 20 years and the same issues kept popping up - that is why I threw my name in."

Matthew C. Long was also new to the municipal election.

"The campaign has been a very good experience for me," he said. "I wish the best to all those elected. I hope they serve Boone in a professional manner and am confident they will."

Following the results announcements, a majority of those in the courtroom went to Galileo's of Boone to celebrate the closing of the race.

Blowing Rock incumbent mayor J.B. Lawrence was unopposed in the race and received 361 votes. There were 39 write-ins.

There were eight candidates vying for three open positions on the Blowing Rock town council. Tommy Lee Klutz had the majority with 245 votes, with Jim Steele right behind at 230. Doug Matheson brought in 205.

The remaining candidates were close behind the preliminary winners. Pat Fountain had 190 votes, Mike Kebelback, 187, George Sudderth, 174, Jerry Starnes, 157, Gary Lee Smith, 40, and two write-ins.

Three positions were open on the town councils of Beech Mountain and Seven Devils. Those towns appoint the mayor from the elected council.

Paul Piquet netted the majority of Beech Mountain votes at 90, with Cindy Keller one vote behind at 89. E. "Rick" Miller was third with 72 votes.

Gil Adams received 67 votes, Peter K. Chamberlin, 55, Barry Schorr, 33, Randy Corn, 32, David Conrad, 30, and four write-ins.

In Seven Devils, Kay Ehlinger took the lead with 44 votes. David A. Ehmig received 39 and Bob Dodson netted 32. Bill Wilkinson was close behind with 30 votes. There were seven write-ins.

Voter turnout was 14.47 percent at 2,312.

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