Commissioners, Sheriff & District Attorney all on the Ballot - TribPapers
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Commissioners, Sheriff & District Attorney all on the Ballot

Buncombe County – When it comes to Buncombe County political races this year, members of the Board of Commissioners, as well as the District Attorney and Sheriff positions, are up for election. 

Before getting to the November elections, candidates will have to get through party primaries and face challenges from their fellow party members all of whom think they can do a better job. Here’s an overiew of the candidates and where you can find more information on these hopefuls.

Buncombe County Commissioner District 1

Most of the commissioners do not have a primary challenger, but some do. In the race for Buncombe County Commissioners District 1, incumbent Democrat & Asheville businessman Al Whitesides has a challenger in fellow Democrat Bill Branyon.

Whitesides is seeking re-election. He is a community leader and long-time activist. The former banker is the first Black man to serve as a commissioner for the county. According to his website, alwhitesides.com, he was first appointed to the board in 2016 and then elected to a four-year term in 2018. 

People who land on Bill Branyon’s webpage, branyonforcommissioner.org, might at first, be scratching their heads at first glance. The Alabama native and Asheville resident of over 40 years has as his homepage message declaring “Stop the militarization of Buncombe County” with a F-35 fighter jet as the lead-in.

According to the website, Branyon states that his central plank of my candidacy is:

A. To form a committee to investigate the County Commission’s, and Jack Cecil’s, secret contract with Pratt and Whitney to build F-35 parts and determine why it cost almost $100 million in citizen tax money subsidies.

B. To find out whether Mr. Cecil and the Commission plan to recruit many other weapon factories to Buncombe County as many facts indicate.

C. To demilitarize the current contract with P & W or break it.

The winner of the Democrats primary will face Republican Anthony Penland. Penland is a Buncombe County native and states on his campaign Facebook, “For the past 30 years I have served and have taken a risk for others, as a member of the Buncombe County fire service.

I have a lifelong devotion to public service and will take the same dedication of others before self to the commission chambers.” While he does not yet have a website, his campaign and information can be found at www.facebook.com/ElectAnthonyPenland/.”

Buncombe County Commissioner District 2

In Buncombe County Commissioners District 2’s race Democrat Martin Moore will face incumbent Republican Robert Pressley. Moore, whose website can be found at martinforbuncombe.org, is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he earned a degree in Political Science and Philosophy, “…began his career as an attorney in Asheville, working with juveniles and fighting for the underserved,” according to his website.

Pressley, an ex-NASCAR driver and businessman, has been on the board since 2016 and made an unsuccessful run at the county commissioner chairman’s seat in 2020. His website, robertpressley.net, has not been updated since that 2020 run for chairman. In addition, he has a Facebook Page, www.facebook.com/voterobertpressley/, that also hasn’t been revamped since August of 2021. 

Buncombe County Commissioners District 3

Democrat Amanda Edwards, the incumbent, will be facing Republican challenger Don Yelton.  “I hope to earn your vote so I can continue working on your behalf to make our community more livable and affordable and more resilient to climate change, pandemics, and economic downturns,” says Amanda Edwards on her website electamandaedwards.org.

On Yelton’s campaign website (donyelton.com), he states, “Vote like you’ve always voted, get what you’ve always gotten! If you are unhappy with the way things are, then vote and…Vote Yelton For Real Solutions, Real Actions and Real Transparency That Buncombe County Needs.”

According to his website, “As a native of Buncombe County, with degrees in Biology, Psychology, & Environmental Systems Engineering, and a long history of being involved in Buncombe County issues, Don Yelton will bring real solutions, fiscal responsibility, and transparency that Buncombe County needs.”

Buncombe County District Attorney

In the race for the seat for Buncombe County District Attorney, whoever wins the Democrat primary will be the county’s next district attorney. What began as four Democrats vying for the position is now down to three as Joe Bowman has ended his campaign announcing on March 14th his support for Courtney Booth. She along with Doug Edwards, are both challenging incumbent fellow Democrat Todd Williams.

Courtney’s website, courtneyboothforda.com, is a West Virginia native who moved to North Carolina when she was 17. She currently works in the Buncombe County Public Defender’s Office and hopes to make history by becoming the county’s first female district attorney. She declares on her website some of her main focuses such as no capital punishment, no cash bailouts and ending mass incarcerations. 

Doug Edwards, former assistant Buncombe County District Attorney, turned private practice lawyer, hopes to unseat his old boss. At his website, dougforda.com, he touts his political endorsements and experience, stating, “Having served the citizens of Buncombe County for over ten years as an Assistant District Attorney, I know what it means to give victims a voice and keep our community safe. I will be a District Attorney that provides competent and strong leadership, builds trust with the community, works with partners to prioritize crime prevention, ensures fair outcomes for all, and holds accountable those that violate the law.”

Todd Williams unseated Ron Moore back in 2014 for the district attorney’s chair. Williams, like Courtney, was also a public defender. According to his website, www.toddwilliamsforda.com, Williams says, “I’m proud of my record of securing convictions in Buncombe County’s most heinous murders involving mothers, families and children while simultaneously expanding second chances for non-violent offenders, especially for those struggling with addiction and poverty. I’m running to continue the work of the Child Advocacy and Family Justice Centers, maintain the gains made to ensure police accountability, and to continue to advocate for sustainable justice reform.” 

Buncombe County Sheriff

Buncombe County Democrat Sheriff Quentin Miller is facing another Democrat David Hurley in the primaries. Miller, seeks his second term, as Buncombe County’s first Black sheriff. According to his website, quentinforbuncombe.org, Miller states, “I’m proud to serve [as] the first African-American Sheriff of Buncombe County and am seeking a second term in office in order to continue implementing 21st Century policing principles.”

David Hurley hopes to upset Miller’s ambitions. At his website, hurleyforsheriff.com, voters can learn a bit about Hurley starting with his family, of which he says he always wanted a large family and that his “fiancée and I manage to maintain a household with six kids.” He also talks about his military career, stating he joined the “United States Marine Corps at the age of 17, just after graduating High School.” The website says he served three and a half years with the Raleigh Police before going into the private security sector.

Whoever wins will face Libertarian Tracey DeBruhl and the winner of the Republican primary between Jeff Worley and Ben Jaramillo. Sadly, Republican, AJ Fox, who was running for a chance to run in the fall, suddenly and unexpectedly passed away this month.

Tracey DeBruhl is in his second run for this public office but has no website or Facebook that we could find. This military veteran does have a video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6SosyEHAXU.

According to Jeff Worley’s website, worleyforbuncombe.com, Worley is a Buncombe County native and graduate of Clyde A. Erwin. He started his law enforcement career with the Weaverville Police in 1985. Before joining the Asheville Police Department, he was a sergeant and joining the NC Highway Patrol, where he also made sergeant. He has kept his law enforcement certificate active since his retirement in 2015.

Ben Jaramillo is a former Army National Guard veteran with over 19 years in law enforcement as a deputy in Buncombe County. Ben’s website, jaramillo4sheriff.com, says his core values for the sheriff’s department if he is elected are: All Sheriff’s Office Staff will be held accountable for their actions: that he will “…work hard to make the Office of Sheriff more Diverse…All persons will be treated Equal no matter the social status…The Office of the Sheriff will act Professional while on and off duty…[and respect] “For all people that live, work and visit Buncombe County.

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