BOONE — A blustery winter day greeted the start of the 11-month 2020 election cycle in Watauga County as two Democrats filed for county commissioner, as did the current register of deeds.
Carrington Pertalion, a Democrat, was first in line as she filed for Watauga County Commissioners District One, the seat currently held by Republican Perry Yates.
“I know Watauga County,” Pertalion said in a statement. “I have family ties to these mountain communities that go back many generations, and four generations of my family have graduated from Appalachian State University. I received some of my best education here in our elementary schools and at Watauga High School.”
Second in line was Amy Shook, who filed for re-election to Watauga County Register of Deeds. Shook, a Republican, previously won an uncontested race in 2016.
“I am filing for re-election as register of deeds because I want to continue serving the citizens of Watauga County in this very important role,” Shook said in a statement. “As primary custodian of important, permanent records for Watauga County, including all land, birth, death, marriage and military discharge records, I strive to use my experience and integrity to lead the office in an effective, cost-efficient way with a high level of professionalism and the best customer service possible.It is an honor and privilege to have served in this capacity for nearly five years and I humbly ask for your continued support in the 2020 election.”
Later in the first hour of the filing period, Watauga County Commissioners Chairman John Welch, a Democrat, signed up to run for his District Two seat. Welch previously was elected in 2016 with 55 percent of the vote. Watauga County Commissioner Charlie Wallin, representing District Five, put pen to paper on Dec. 2 as well.
“I am proud to announce my bid for re-election as Watauga County Commissioner,” Wallin said in a statement.
Rep. Ray Russell, a Boone Democrat representing N.C. House District 93 (Ashe and Watauga counties), made his re-election campaign official on the first day of filing.
“Today, I filed for re-election,” Russell stated in a Dec. 2 Facebook post. “Here’s to 2020 vision for North Carolina, as we flip the N.C. House.”
Russell was elected to the state House of Representatives for his first term in November 2018. In his freshman term, Russell stated that his work focused on public education, health care, clean air and water, better government and rural economic development. Russell sponsored or co-sponsored 120 different bills.
Two Watauga County Board of Educations candidates filed as of 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 3: Ronald Holste and former board member Jason K. Cornett.
Filing runs through 12 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 20. Candidates have from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each weekday until then to file.
In the second hour of the filing period, news came from Raleigh of a three-judge panel’s unanimous approval of the new state maps for the U.S. House of Representatives races, and an order for the filing period for the state’s 13 congressional districts to open immediately. U.S. House of Representatives candidates must file at the state elections office in Raleigh.
The new maps were approved after the same three-judge panel ruled that the 2016 congressional maps violated the N.C. constitution early in November.
The Fifth District, which Avery, Watauga and Ashe have been in for years, has been radically shifted. The new maps put Avery into the 11th District with most of Western North Carolina and shifted the Fifth District, which keeps Watauga and Ashe, southward to encompass Caldwell, Burke, Cleveland, the eastern half of Rutherford and Gaston counties.
Current Fifth District U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk) re-confirmed her plans to run for a ninth term.
“As the voters begin their considerations in the now-settled districts, I am confirming my plans to file for re-election in 2020 in the Fifth District,” Foxx stated.
One potential challenger, David Wilson Brown, a Democrat from McAdenville in Gaston County, stated on his campaign’s Facebook page on Dec. 2 that he would file in the new Fifth District.
“I will be running in the new Fifth Congressional District,” Brown stated. “I will be challenging Virginia Foxx and I will need your support to do it. Now is the time for all of us to stand together.”
Another potential Fifth District challenger, Boone Democrat Jeanne Supin, said she will make an announcement in the next week regarding her future plans. Supin had been campaigning in the now-former Fifth District for most of 2019.
Three of the four judicial district court judge seats for the 24th N.C. Judicial District, consisting of Watauga, Avery, Mitchell, Yancey and Madison counties, are up for election in 2020. On Dec. 2, all three incumbents, Hal Harrison of Spruce Pine, Rebecca Eggers-Gryder of Boone and Ted McEntire of Spruce Pine, filed for re-election at the state office in Raleigh. All three incumbents are Republicans who serve alongside Larry Leake, a Democrat from Marshall who won re-election unopposed in 2018. Each judicial seat is contested individually.
Locally, filing will continue for numerous other races. Candidates for the three Watauga County Board of Education seats, three Watauga County Commissioners seats, Watauga County Register of Deeds and the NCGA candidates based in Watauga can file at the Watauga County Board of Elections office, located in downtown Boone. Statewide and federal candidates must file at the N.C. State Board of Elections office in Raleigh.
In North Carolina, several federal offices will be contested in 2020. U.S. president, U.S. senator, N.C. governor, N.C. lieutenant governor, N.C. attorney general, N.C. auditor, N.C. commissioner of agriculture, N.C. commissioner of insurance, N.C. commissioner of labor, N.C. secretary of state. N.C. superintendent of public instruction and N.C. treasurer will be contested in partisan elections.
A number of N.C. Supreme Court and N.C. Court of Appeals will also be up for election on partisan ballots. All judicial candidates must file at the state elections office in Raleigh.