Election one month away
by Anna Oakes
With the advent of October's cooling temperatures and changing leaves comes another flurry of color and activity -- campaign signs lining the roadsides and candidates hitting the streets as they seek votes for municipal elected offices.
Election Day for council and mayor's seats in Boone, Blowing Rock, Seven Devils and Beech Mountain is one month away, scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 5. Early voting begins Oct. 17.
The deadline to register to vote in 2013 municipal elections is Friday, Oct. 11. However, residents wishing to vote in town elections who miss the Oct. 11 deadline may register and vote on the same day during the early voting period.
Same-day registration during the early voting period will not be available in the 2014 elections, as the General Assembly recently voted to eliminate the option.
Local candidates were required to indicate in their filing documents whether their campaign committees would spend more or less than $1,000. Those spending more than $1,000 are required to file regular campaign finance reports with the Watauga County Board of Elections, and the first reports were due Oct. 1.
According to those reports, candidates in Boone and Blowing Rock had raised more than $30,000 as of Sept. 24. That figure does not include the amounts raised by candidates not required to file reports.
Leading the fundraising pack was Blowing Rock Town Council candidate Sue Sweeting, whose committee raised $6,240 from 49 contributors by the end of the reporting period. In Boone, town council candidate Mark Templeton leads the way with $4,900 raised, bolstered by a $2,100 loan to his campaign from himself. Boone mayoral candidate Andy Ball is close behind, with $4,061.25 from 45 contributors.
The Watauga Democrat previously reported that Templeton had elected to spend $1,000 or less. His committee initially filed a document July 29 certifying his committee would not spend more than $1,000, but the committee later filed a document withdrawing that certification.
The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce provides an opportunity for voters to hear from candidates in Boone at a Meet the Candidates Forum at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 8, at the Council Chambers at 1500 Blowing Rock Road.
A moderator will pose a series of questions to the candidates, and audience members will be invited to submit questions, as well.
"They'll be on a range of topics, and all of those topics impact business," Dan Meyer, Boone Area Chamber CEO and president, said. "We'll try to use as many as we can."
The Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce sponsors a candidate forum from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 22, at the Blowing Rock School Auditorium. Questions for candidates may be submitted to (email@example.com)
Early and mail-in absentee voting
Early voting for four municipal elections in Watauga County takes place at the Watauga County Commissioners Board Room, located at 814 W. King St. in Boone. Hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the weekdays of Oct. 17 and 18, Oct. 21-25 and Oct. 28 to Nov. 1. Early voting is also available from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the Saturday before Election Day, Nov. 2.
Any voter registered in one of the municipalities may request an absentee ballot to return by mail. Call the Board of Elections at (828) 265-8061 or write to Watauga County Board of Elections, P.O. Box 528, Boone, NC 28607. Staff will begin to mail absentee ballots today, and ballots must be returned by 5 p.m. Nov. 4.
Read the Watauga Democrat in print and online at http://www.wataugademocrat.com for continuing election coverage. In the coming weeks, the Watauga Democrat will publish responses by local candidates to general and issues-oriented questions.
For more information about voting, call the Watauga County Elections Office at (828) 265-8061.