Hendersonville – Hendersonville residents will narrow the City Council race from six to four candidates for two seats when voting in the primary.
Only municipal elections are on ballots across the state this year. The primary is on Tuesday, Oct. 5. Early voting is ongoing.
The general election is nearly a month later — on Tuesday, Nov. 2. That is when voters will decide council contests in Hendersonville, Fletcher, Flat Rock, Mills River and Laurel Park.
Hendersonville Mayor Barbara Volk is challenged by Daniel James “D.J.” Harrington. But they are not on the ballot until the general election.
Meanwhile, two of Hendersonville’s four council at-large seats are on the primary ballot. Voters vote for as many as two people out of six candidates. The top four vote-getters advance to the general election.
Jeff Miller did not run again. His seat is thus vacant. Miller runs Miller’s Fine Drycleaning. He hopes to get even more active again with the Honor Flight Network that flies military veterans to Washington, D.C. to see war memorials.
Jerry A. Smith, Jr. is running for a fourth term. Smith was first elected in 2009. His colleagues chose him as mayor pro tempore two years ago. He is a Hendersonville High School teacher throughout this Millennium. Smith is the HHS mock trial coach. He coached varsity baseball Bearcats to several league titles. The UNC-CH alumnus has a law degree from Carolina Central and a master’s in education from George Mason.
Smith, on his Facebook campaign page, lists priority issues as tax and water-sewer rates, zoning, public safety, parks and green space, finalizing parking deck details, workforce housing and affordable housing.
The Two Mikes
Smith is joined on the ballot by challengers Mike Baer, Raphael Morales, Debbie Roundtree, Mike Vesely and Chelsea Walsh.
Vesely is recently retired as a Hendersonville police lieutenant. He supervised the motorcycle patrol unit. He saved the city money by shopping and finding used fuel-efficient BMW motorcycles that cost less than half as much as new ones. Further savings were from BMW’s donated free training on the bikes. Vesely was on the TV series entitled Behind the Badge that was on the local cable government channel.
The other Mike in the race — Baer — and his wife Cindy run the historic Elizabeth Leigh Inn. He is a retired “employment executive.” He said he is all for “common sense and thoughtful dialogue” on council open to various residents. His priority issues start with maintaining public safety — a “well-funded, well-trained and well-led police force. We have this now, and want to keep it.” He is for supporting existing businesses and encouraging new ones that are “environmentally friendly and technology-based.”
Walsh, Roundtree, Morales
Chelsea Walsh brought up zoning on her campaign Facebook page. She said change is “uncomfortable. But change is inevitable in our town, and we have an opportunity to embrace it and control it.” She stated that if on council she will strive to preserve, secure, and advance our legacy as a town — through safety, structure, and sustainability.”
The Henderson County Democratic Party’s website lists its preferred candidates for various races. They are Debbie Roundtree and Raphael Morales for Hendersonville City Council.
Morales, 31, stated on the HCDP candidates’ page he wants to help “people whose voices have been unheard” including on the impact of growth. He is a musician. He stated on his personal Facebook page that he enjoyed “performing 80’s music on the Apple Festival stage one day, then meeting voters and sharing a platform of equity, accessibility and sustainability the next day.”
Roundtree lost in council races in 2017 and ‘19. She was an NAACP local chapter board member. She lives near Green Meadows by Seventh Avenue. She calls for a greater revitalization of neighborhoods – not only businesses there.
She founded the local Back-to-School Fest. She calls for replacing aging infrastructure and paying for poorer families’ school supplies. She cites quality education, affordable housing and zoning as among key issues. She stated on her Facebook campaign page she is “the voice for everyone, every community — every day.”