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Meet the sheriff candidates and local referendums on the WNC ballot

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Eight local sheriffs did not run for reelection this year - many retired - causing a changing of the guard in Western North Carolina. In the primary, BPR talked with some the sheriffs who are retiring and community leaders about the constitutional implications of this election. Below are all of the candidates for sheriff in the region as well as the referendums that are on the ballot.

Do you know who is on your ballot? This is a guide to the platforms of each candidate based on local reporting from Blue Ridge Public Radio, Smoky Mountain News, The News and Observer’s Project 170 and Voter 411 guide by The League of Women Voters.

If you have questions on how to vote check out answers to your Frequently Asked Questions.

Two counties in the region have referendums on the ballot.

Macon County – sample ballot

Macon County voters will have the opportunity to vote on a sales tax referendum. Here’s the text of the referendum:

“Local sales and use tax at the rate of one-quarter percent (.25%) in addition to all other State and local sales and use taxes.”

The options are “For” or “Against.”

The tax has been linked during the campaign season to the plan for the new high school and is a part of the county commissioner platforms, reports the Smoky Mountain News.

Buncombe County – sample ballot

Buncombe County voters will have the opportunity to vote on two bonds: open space and housing.

If approved, the $30 million open space bond will support conservation of open space and greenways, and the $40 million housing bond will increase the number of housing units for people of low to moderate income in Buncombe County.

If approved by voters this November, a $30 million bond would cost typical households a maximum of $14 a year for 20 years, and a $40 million bond would cost typical households a maximum of $18 a year for 20 years, according to the Buncombe County Board of Elections. The BOE also includes details on how each bond referendum will move forward if it is passed.

Open Space Bonds Referendum

SHALL the order authorizing $30,000,000 of bonds to pay the capital costs of acquisition and improvement of land or interests therein for conservation and protection of natural resources and preservation of farmland, including but not limited to, the development of greenways and trails for recreation purposes, and providing that additional taxes may be levied in an amount sufficient to pay the principal of and interest on the bonds be approved?

The options are “Yes” or “No.”

Housing Bonds Referendum

SHALL the order authorizing $40,000,000 of bonds to pay the capital costs of housing for the benefit of persons of low or moderate income, including construction of related infrastructure improvements and the acquisition of related land and rights-of[1]way, and providing that additional taxes may be levied in an amount sufficient to pay the principal of and interest on the bonds be approved?

The options are “Yes” or “No.”

Sheriff Greg Christopher_CoryVaillancourt_resized.jpg
Cory Vaillancourt
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Haywood County Sheriff Greg Christopher has been in law enforcement for four decades. He was one of many sheriff's who retired this year.

Sheriff Races

Nine counties in the westernmost part of North Carolina will elect new sheriffs this year. Those open seats follow a wave of retirements in the region.

Buncombe County sheriff candidates

Quentin Miller *(D) — Voter 411

Trey McDonald (R) — campaign website

Republican candidate Jeff Worley won the primary but dropped out of the race in August due to health concerns.

Henderson County sheriff candidate
Current Sheriff Lowell Griffin(R) is running unopposed.

Haywood County sheriff candidates

Bill Wilke (R) — Smoky Mountain News

Larry Bryson (D) — Smoky Mountain News

Transylvania County sheriff candidates

Chase Owensby (R) — Voter 411

William E. Hemphill (D) — Voter 411

Benny Frady (U) — Voter 411

Graham sheriff candidates

Russell Moody (R) — (no campaign website, or response to Voter 411 or N&O)

Brad Hoxit (U) — campaign website

Former sheriff Russell Moody won a second primary against incumbent Sheriff Jerry Crisp in July, BPR reported.

Swain sheriff candidates
Curtis Cochran*(R) - Smoky Mountain News
Doug Anthony (D) - Smoky Mountain News

Jackson sheriff candidates
Doug Farmer (R) - Smoky Mountain News
Rick Buchanan (D) - Smoky Mountain News

Macon sheriff candidate

Brent Holbrooks (R) won the primary after a recount and there are no other candidates.

Cherokee County sheriff candidate

Dustin Smith (R) won the primary and there are no other candidates.

Clay County sheriff candidate

Mark Buchanan (R) won the primary and there are no other candidates.

McDowell County sheriff candidates

Rickey Buchanan *(R) — campaign website

Randy Barton (U) — (no campaign website, or response to Voter 411 or N&O)

Madison County sheriff candidates

Buddy Harwood* (D) — campaign website

Robin Lyles (R) — campaign website

Lilly Knoepp serves as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina. She is a native of Franklin, NC who returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.