Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer
Candidate filing for most 2021 city, town, and village elections in North Carolina kicked off at noon Friday, July 2, and will continue until noon Friday, July 16.
With several seats up for election in both Franklin and Highlands, many candidates have already submitted their names to the Macon County Board of Elections.
Franklin Mayor Bob Scott announced over the holiday weekend that he would not be seeking re-election to a fifth term, leaving the Franklin Mayor seat up for grabs to a newcomer. Franklin Council member Jack Horton filed for the mayor seat on Friday afternoon.
While there are currently three town council board seats up for election, the seats currently held by David Culpepper, Dinah Mashburn, and the late Barbara McRae, as of noon on Wednesday, no one had yet filed for those positions.
In Highlands, incumbent Mayor Pat Taylor filed for re-election to another term and will face Highlands Commissioner Mark Hehn, who also filed to run for mayor.
The Highlands Town Board of Commissioners has two seats up for election — seats currently held by Donnie Callaway and Amy Patterson. As of noon on Wednesday neither incumbent had filed for office, however newcomer and local business owner Thomas Craig filed for one of the open seats.
Elections for about 30 N.C. municipalities that elect by district were delayed until 2022 because of delays in the receipt of U.S. Census data needed for redistricting, however the municipal elections in Macon County were not impacted.
During municipal elections, voters elect local officials, including mayors and town or city council members. Some municipalities may also conduct property tax levy, alcoholic beverage, or other referenda.
“Service at the municipal level often has the most direct impact on the communities in which we live. We hope many candidates sign up to run for local office this year,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections. “We also encourage eligible individuals across the state to register and vote in their local elections.”
To file for municipal office, a candidate must:
– Be 21 years old by Election Day.
– Be a registered voter of the county and reside in the municipality at the time they file for office. If they are not already registered to vote, they can register at the time they file their notice of candidacy.
– Reside within the district or ward for an office that is elected by district or ward.
– File a Municipal Notice of Candidacy (fillable PDF) with their county board of elections office and pay a filing fee set by the municipality or submit a petition in lieu of paying the fee.
– File an organizational report for the candidate committee with the county board of elections within 10 days of filing a notice of candidacy or within 10 days of organizing the candidate committee, whichever occurs first.
– For partisan elections, be affiliated with the same political party in which he or she intends to file for at least 90 days prior to the filing date.
– Disclose any felony convictions. A prior felony conviction does not preclude holding elective office if the candidate’s rights of citizenship have been restored.
– Candidates for partisan municipal offices who wish to run as unaffiliated should review N.C.G.S. § 163-296 and N.C.G.S. § 163-122 (a)(4), and the fact sheet on running as an unaffiliated candidate (PDF).
While the municipal election will be decided this November, candidates for other offices with elections a year away have already submitted their notice of candidacy to the Macon County Board of Commissioners.
Since Macon County Sheriff Robert Holland announced his retirement, three members of the Sheriff’s Office filed a notice of candidacy with the local elections office, kicking off their campaigns. Brent Holbrooks, Dereck Jones, and Clay Bryson are all longtime employees of the Sheriff’s Department and have each announced their intent to run. In addition to current Sheriff’s Department employees, two other Macon County residents launched their campaigns prior to the Sheriff’s retirement announcement. Robert Cook and Chris Browning have both also filed their notice of candidacy with the board of elections.
While filing does not officially open until December, candidates who have filed a notice of candidacy with the Board of Elections office are permitted to begin fundraising. State law requires individuals who officially announce a campaign to file a notice of candidacy within a specified time frame with the Board of Elections.
To date, all individuals running for Sheriff are registered Republicans. Filing for the Sheriff’s seat doesn’t officially open until December 2021 with the Primary election scheduled for March 2022. Despite an already crowded field of candidates, the next Sheriff of Macon County will not be elected until November 2022.
Two candidates have also already announced their intention to run for Clerk of Superior Court in Macon County. Retired law enforcement officer Mike Trammel as well as Macon County Magistrate Justin Stamey have also submitted their notice of candidacy to the board of elections. Like the Sheriff seat, filing for the Clerk of Superior Court does not officially open until December 2021.