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Originally published: 2013-06-28 10:45:15
Last modified: 2013-06-28 10:46:00

Three appointed to Watauga Board of Elections

by Kellen Short

Republicans Bill Aceto and Jim Hastings and Democrat Kathleen Campbell were appointed Tuesday to the Watauga County Board of Elections.

The State Board of Elections approved the recommendations for all 100 counties, installing two Republicans and one Democrat on each of the county boards. The election of Gov. Pat McCrory last fall led to a transition to GOP control on the state board, which trickled down to the local level.

Watauga County's three new members are expected to be sworn in July 16, replacing Democrats Stella Anderson and Rusty Henson and Republican Stacy "Four" Eggers.

The Board of Elections is tasked with overseeing fair elections for federal, state and local races, as well as any referenda. Members' duties include training precinct officials, conducting hearings on challenges concerning any election matters, considering petitions, setting the location of polling places, reviewing absentee ballots, overseeing campaign finance and considering new voter registrations.

"There is quite a bit to learn," Board of Elections Director Jane Ann Hodges said in May. "We try -- as a staff and the state board -- to make it as easy and painless as possible."

Aceto, a local realtor, was raised in Montreat and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2007, according to a bio on Blue Ridge Realty & Investments website.

He has been involved in several local organizations, including High Country Young Professionals, Boone Area Chamber of Commerce and the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce. Aceto also has served on the Boone Board of Adjustment.

Aceto said Wednesday that he was preparing to leave the country and did not have time for an interview.

Fellow Republican James C. Hastings has been active with the local and state Republican Party for years, serving previously as chairman for the Watauga County GOP and the North Carolina GOP.

He also hosts the conservative talk show "The Right Side" on WATA 1450 AM.

Hastings left his post with the N.C. Republican Party after being indicted for failure to file federal income tax returns from 1988 to 1991. He eventually pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to four counts of failure to file income tax returns, misdemeanor charges. He was sentenced to three years of unsupervised probation and fined $20,000, according to court records.

A message left for Hastings was not returned as of presstime Thursday.

Watauga County Republican Party Chairwoman Anne-Marie Yates said Thursday she was not yet ready to give an interview about the appointments. Democratic Party Chairwoman Diane Tilson did not immediately return a message left Thursday afternoon.

Campbell, a retired Appalachian State University art professor, was born in Los Angeles, Calif., and moved to the High Country 18 years ago when she was hired at ASU.

She said she has been mildly active in the Democratic Party when her schedule allowed, but considered service on the Board of Elections a departure from what she has normally done.

Campbell said she was at first reluctant to take on the important task, considering others better qualified, but was talked into the job. She said she is concerned about the integrity of elections and ensuring that all have the right to vote.

"I recognize that as a minority member I will always be outvoted, but I think there are certain principles that are morally important and that I will fight for," she said.