Ray Pickett

Ray Pickett, as shown in 2017.

BOONE — Boone Town Councilwoman Lynne Mason will step away from council life after nearly two decades, deciding not to seek a new term this fall.

“After careful thought and consideration, I have decided not to seek another term,’ Mason said in a July 18 statement. “Anything that I commit to doing, I give 100 percent. When I first ran in 2001, I had two young adult children, one still in high school and the other in college. They both chose to return to Boone and I now have five wonderful grandsons, nine months to 13 years of age that I enjoy spending time with. I also have a local independent family business to run that requires much of my time. Due to the number and length of council meetings, I can no longer continue to commit the time required to be an effective council member and to have time for the other commitments and priorities in my life. This is a very hard decision, as I have so enjoyed serving our community.”

“Thank you Boone Community for your confidence and trust in allowing me to serve our community over the past 19 years,” Mason continued. “What an honor and privilege it has been. This is not goodbye, as I will remain active in our community, and I am not closing the door to future opportunities to serve our great community.”

As of July 18, a total of 19 candidates filed for posts in the four Watauga municipalities. At least six candidates filed for three Beech Mountain Town Council seats while Seven Devils, Boone and Blowing Rock each have four options for their town councils so far, according to filing data going into the last day.

The data includes all filers as of Thursday, July 18. The filing period was to expire at 12 p.m. on Friday, July 19, after the Watauga Democrat went to print.

Two new names joined the Beech Mountain Town Council race on July 17, current councilman Carl Marquardt and challenger Erin Gonyea.

“I filed because I am a (now retired) 40-year public school veteran/administrator from Florida,” Gonyea said. “When you’re a 40-year teacher veteran and retire, it’s a slower pace. I’m finding myself want to get involved and interested in town committees. Now I’m finding myself missing collaborative planning … I thought ‘what a great way to get involved.’”

Current Beech Mountain Town Council Member Wendel Sauer and Mayor Renee Castiglione have filed, as did two challengers in Jimmie Accardi and Kelly Melang.

The three Beech Mountain seats up for re-election are those of Marquardt, Sauer and Castiglione.

Seven Devils had four names filed for the three open seats in 2019 as of Thursday. Challenger Jeff Williams filed on July 18, making it a race with him, current Mayor Larry Fontaine, current Councilwoman Kay Ehlinger and challenger Wayne Bonomo.

The Seven Devils Town Council has three seats for election — those of Fontaine, Ehlinger and David Ehmig.

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.

In Boone, 24-year-old Dustin Hicks filed for town council on July 17. Hicks said he wants to represent the younger generation and wants to encourage more citizen democracy.

Hicks joines fellow challengers Nancy LaPlaca, Virginia Roseman as well as Mayor Pro Tem Loretta Clawson.

Boone Town Council will have three seats for election — currently filled by Clawson, Marshall Ashcraft and Lynne Mason.

In Boone, the top two vote-getters are elected to four-year terms and third place receives a two-year term. The Boone mayor position is not up for election this year, as it is a four-year term and was previously up for election in 2017.

Ray Pickett filed to reclaim a seat he lost in 2017 on the Blowing Rock Town Council on July 17 while current Councilman Jim Steele filed on July 18. The two join current Mayor Pro Tem Albert Yount and challenger David Harwood in the race.

The four will be going for the two seats held by Steele and Yount. 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. The Blowing Rock mayor is elected to a two-year term.

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