Fletcher – Preston Blakely is Fletcher’s next mayor, Sandra Goode unseated Brian Caskey from Mills River Council, while Debbie Roundtree joins Hendersonville City Council among other newcomers to local government in Henderson County.
Fletcher’s Sheila Franklin and Flat Rock’s Susan Gregory are among incumbents reelected Nov. 2.
Roundtree out-did Chelsea Walsh by nearly six and a half percentage points — 31.4 percent to 25 percent. Roundtree got 1,634 votes. She fills the seat vacated by Jeff Miller when he stepped aside. She lost in council elections in 2017 and 2019 and a commissioner’s race last year. The fourth time was the charm, so to speak.
She lives near Green Meadows by Seventh Avenue. She calls for greater revitalization of neighborhoods — not merely the businesses there. She founded the local Back-to-School Fest and calls for replacing aging infrastructure and paying for low-income families’ school supplies. She cites quality education, affordable housing and zoning as key issues.
Roundtree benefited from fellow progressive Raphael Morales dropping out, who did so after the deadline to be removed from the ballot. Thus he could siphon votes from Roundtree. Yet, only three percent of ballots were for Morales — for one of the two available seats.
Jerry Smith Wins Again
Jerry Smith held on to his own seat for a fourth term. The Hendersonville High teacher led the trio with nearly 40 percent of votes. He serves as mayor pro tempore.
Volk Remains Mayor
Mayor Volk decisively won (64-36 percent) over D.J. Harrington. Volk became mayor in December of 2009. She first served on council in 1989. She is a retired computer service provider. Volk, Smith and Roundtree will be sworn in Dec. 2.
Fletcher Mayor Blakely
Blakely, 27, defeated Phillip Luther by 55-45 percent. Registered Democrat Blakely describes himself as progressive. His degrees are in political science from UNC-Greensboro and a master’s in public affairs from WCU. He is the District Two council member, midway into his term. A successor will be appointed.
Blakely ran on continuing what he describes as ‘strong Fletcher policies.’ He follows outgoing Fletcher Mayor Rod Whiteside. Both are African-American. Whiteside “opened the door” for minorities to lead such a small town, Blakley said. Blakely grew up in Fletcher’s Brickton community. He graduated from Asheville High School in 2013.
Sheila Franklin won a fourth term in District One. She won by 53-47 percent over John Brandon Olsen. Franklin is for “balanced growth,” “quality of life” and a “safe town” with adequate law enforcement funding. The 38-year resident of Fletcher has 25 years as a science-technical teacher, and a business management degree.
Trevor C. Lance won by the same 53-47 margin, beating Blue Ghost Brewing owner Erik Weber. Lance fills the District Four seat Eddie Henderson vacated after serving throughout this millennium. Lance, as Skyland fire chief, is running a “multi-million dollar” enterprise. “With nearly two decades of leadership experience,” the Fletcher native stated, “I know what it takes to navigate local government, find solutions that work, and get things done.”
Lance opposes “growth by way of tax increases and imminent domain. More revenue is not worth over-taxing the residents, and forcibly taking their property.” He wants “well-planned” growth guidelines to “anticipate any gentle growth that may be needed.” Lance aims to preserve Fletcher as a “safe and secure” small town.
Mills River Ousters
In Mills River, both incumbents lost. Sandra Goode unseated Mayor Pro Tem Brian Caskey in District One. She won by 53.4-46.4 percent. Goode, 58, works as a CMA/CNA in the surgical unit of Advent Health, formerly Park Ridge Hospital. She has a quarter-century of experience there.
She is eager to “keep Mills River prosperous, and retain our agriculture and family values,” she stated on a League of Women Voters questionnaire. The lifelong Mills River resident grew up farming. She noted much Mills River land is in the watershed. Thus she supports “careful consideration as to where development goes” to “maintain our natural beauty.”
Caskey had his eyes on a state office last year, when losing to State Sen. Chuck Edwards as the Democratic challenger. Caskey urges Mills River to “control development” and cease the “total domination by the free market.” He supports creating conditional zoning districts with “legally-binding requirements such as affecting environmental impact.”
In District Two, James Franklin Cantrell got 49 percent of the vote to win by 1.15 percent over incumbent Bruce S. Kimball and also Dennis Grass (3%). Cantrell, 32, owns Valley Forage Products, LLC. He points to his budgeting and social skills. Cantrell served a decade on Mills River advisory boards — mainly the Planning Board and Agricultural Advisory Committee. He wants to help preserve farm land when weighing proposed development. To keep up with population growth Cantrell said, “we need to be mindful of affordable housing – in certain areas that do not affect agricultural production.”
Kimball, 44, as recent Planning Board chairman is for “preserving our rural community and balancing growth.”
Shanon Gonce was unopposed for the D3 seat Mayor Chae Trantham Davis is vacating. Council members will vote on their next mayor.
Laurel Park, Flat Rock
In Laurel Park, Paul Hansen barely won a third term. He edged musician Debra Hinson Bridges by one percent — 47.2 to 46.12 percent. Write-ins drew a hefty 6.68 percent — 3.23 for Terry Pierce.
Hansen chaired the Laurel Park Planning Board for four years. He worked for Honeywell’s aerospace division. The Clemson alumnus has an electrical engineering degree.
Kirstin Dunn was unopposed for Laurel Park’s other seat up for a vote.
In Flat Rock, Susan Gregory was elected to continue representing District Two. She defeated retired Marine Jim Hart 62-38 percent. She is for “strong fiscal oversight.” Further, “I want future growth to be consistent” with Flat Rock’s “beauty” — with “reasonable” and fair guidance, Gregory stated. The retired FBI manager has a history degree. She is leading revisions of the land-use document. She is active in Historic Flat Rock, Inc.
Both Matthew Toner III in D1 (succeeding retiring Pam Tiles) and Barbara Jeter (succeeding Albert Gooch) in D3 were unopposed.
Voter turnout statewide nearly doubled from nine percent in the primary Oct. 5 to 16 percent on Nov. 2, according to state election data.