WATAUGA COUNTY — The 2019 municipal election season ramps up in the next five weeks with candidate forums, early voting, registration deadlines and finally, Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 5, when 19 candidates seek 12 elected offices in Watauga’s four towns. And in those four towns, every town council will have a competitive race.
Absentee voting by mail begins Saturday, Oct. 5. The voter registration deadline for those voting on Election Day is Friday, Oct. 11. The last day to request an absentee ballot by mail is Oct. 29. The Watauga County Canvass, when the election is certified by the Watauga County Board of Elections, takes place Nov. 15 at 11 a.m.
Early voting starts at the Watauga County Administration Building at 814 W. King St. on Wednesday, Oct. 16. The dates for early voting are Oct. 16-18, Oct. 21-25 and Oct. 28 to Nov. 1, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A second early voting site at the Appalachian State University Plemmons Student Union will be open Oct. 21-15 and Oct. 28 through Nov. 1, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
There is no Saturday early voting, and no photo ID will be required to vote in the 2019 election.
For same-day registration during the early voting period, residents have to provide proof of residency in that municipality, according to Watauga County Board of Elections Executive Director Matthew Snyder.
A Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce candidates forum will take place 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 14, at the Blowing Rock School Auditorium.
Current Blowing Rock Council Members Albert Yount and Jim Steele and challengers Ray Pickett and David Harwood will contest for two seats. The seats would be for four years. The other three Blowing Rock Town Council seats would be up for re-election in 2021.
Current Blowing Rock Mayor Charlie Sellers remains unopposed in his quest for re-election for a second term. The Blowing Rock mayor is elected to a two-year term.
Boone will have at least two new people on town council as Dustin Hicks, Nancy LaPlaca and Virginia Roseman as well as current council member Loretta Clawson vie for three seats. Current council members Marshall Ashcraft and Lynne Mason chose not to file for re-election.
In Boone, the top two vote-getters are elected to four-year terms, and third place receives a two-year term. The Boone mayoral position is not up for election this year, as it is a four-year term and was previously up for election in 2017.
In 2019, Boone will not have a candidates forum, but instead David Jackson of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce said he will conduct individual podcast-style interviews with the four Boone Town Council candidates. The interviews will be released by mid-October, Jackson said.
Blowing Rock will kick off election season on Thursday, Oct. 3, as the Blowing Rock Civic Association hosts a candidates forum at the American Legion Hall. A social starts at 6:15 p.m. with the forum at 7 p.m.
Beech Mountain will have its candidates forum on Thursday, Oct. 10, at the Buckeye Lake Recreation Center, starting at 5:30 p.m.
Six candidates will run for three seats in Beech Mountain. Current Council Members Wendel Sauer, Carl Marquardt and (Mayor) Renee Castiglione will seek re-election as challengers Jimmie Accardi, Erin Gonyea and Kelly Melang each attempt to take a seat.
The town of Seven Devils is hosting its candidates forum on Wednesday, Oct. 9, at its new town hall, located at 157 Seven Devils Road, which is near the intersection with N.C. 105.
Seven Devils has four names up for three seats. Council Members Kay Ehlinger and (Mayor) Larry Fontaine go for re-election as challengers Wayne Bonomo and Jeff Williams vie for election. Current Council Member David Ehmig did not file for re-election.
In both Beech Mountain and Seven Devils, the two candidates who receive the most votes are elected to four-year terms while third place receives a two-year term. After election, the council votes on its mayor from within.