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coverNorth Carolina has rarely seen an election where the candidates matter so little, but who wins matters so much.

This year it’s not about the names on the ballot. Those are mere window dressing. Their alma matter, their church, their IQ, their gender, their profession, their hometown — things voters might have cared about in the past — have fallen by the wayside, too. Even the last-minute, slick campaign ads will likely be futile in budging voters to their side of the fence.

By Bob Hall
As an independent watchdog group, Democracy North Carolina receives all kinds of reports on our hotline at 888-OUR-VOTE. We encourage voters to review the candidates at and call the hotline if you have any problems as you vote.

Thursday, 23 October 2014 18:17

Early voting has begun

Early voting starts today across North Carolina. Registered voters who can't wait until Election Day to vote now have the opportunity to vote in person across North Carolina.

Thursday, 23 October 2014 18:11

Cullowhee community meeting tonight

Tonight will be the last of two public input meetings concerning the proposed Cullowhee Planning Area  development standards. Tonight’s meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the Hospitality Room of the Ramsey Center at Western Carolina University. 

Thursday, 23 October 2014 15:27

Dockie Brendle’s bridge dedication

Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient Dockie Brendle will have a bridge officially named in honor of him this month. The NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata will be in attendance next week as the department recognizes Brendall’s bridge, located off U.S. 74, exit 64.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014 13:35

Meet the candidates for district attorney

Two candidates are competing for the job of top legal prosecutor in the seven western counties.

The seat came up for grabs when District Attorney Mike Bonfoey announced his retirement after 11 years in the role. Two assistant prosecutors who work under Bonfoey are vying for the job.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014 13:35

March to the polls

With elections nearing, some groups are already making plans for how to cast their ballot. 

In Sylva, a group will descend on the polls for the first day of early voting, 10 a.m. Oct. 23. The gathering is organized by the Jackson County Branch of the NAACP and co-sponsored by a handful of left-leaning organizations. They will meet at the fountain outside the Jackson County Public Library and walk 2 miles to the Board of Elections Office. 828.226.4526 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

In Canton, the Haywood County NAACP will hold a march to the polls, 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 25. The group will meet at Harris Chapel AME Zion on 26 Prospect St. and walk two blocks to the Canton Public Library.  Those who cannot walk can meet at the library at 10:30 a.m. The group will wait at the library while everybody votes and then return to Harris Chapel for a general meeting at noon. 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014 13:33

Evergreen negotiations ‘worked out fine’

fr papermillEvergreen Packaging has been in talks with its employees since the spring, trying to hammer out a new contract. This month, the company reached a deal with members of the union.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014 13:26

County votes ‘yes’ on hospice grant

fr hospicehouseHospice House of WNC passed a hurdle in its fundraising effort when the Macon County Board of Commissioners voted to submit a grant application on the organization’s behalf. In a 4-0 vote, the commissioners unanimously agreed to support the hospice house’s bid for the $100,000 Building Reuse Grant from the N.C. Department of Commerce. 

When a property tax bill for the old town hall building showed up in the Town of Franklin’s mail, John Henning, the town’s attorney, was surprised. The bill called for a payment of $2,872.22 on a property that Henning said, as a piece of public property, should be exempt from property tax. 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014 13:21

House 118th seat showdown

Hicks: Getting off the sidelines

Dean Hicks is still a coach at heart. 

“I’m an old coach, I don’t want to be average,” Hicks said. “No coach could settle for average, and I don’t think North Carolina should either.”

fr davisEditor’s note: The Smoky Mountain News spent a day on the campaign trail with Sen. Jim Davis, R-Franklin, as he tries to retain his seat in the N.C. General Assembly representing the seven western counties.

It’s almost dark and North Carolina Sen. Jim Davis, R-Franklin, is sitting in the Ryan’s steakhouse in Sylva. It’s Thursday, another day on the campaign trail with an election only weeks away. 

fr hippsEditor’s note: The Smoky Mountain News spent a day with Jane Hipps, a Democratic challenger running for the state Senate seat spanning the seven western counties.

8:40 A.M.

Jane Hipps was getting a later-than-normal start on the campaign trail, unless you count the cards she passed out at her crack-of-dawn dentist appointment. In a proud moment of positive thinking, Hipps had diligently made her next dentist appointment as she left, for 7:30 a.m.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014 13:10

Queen, Clampitt battle it out again

Election season is winding down to the finish line and both candidates in the N.C. House’s 119th District race are eyeing Raleigh. Challenger Mike Clampitt and incumbent Rep. Joe Sam Queen, D-Waynesville, have been here before. They went up against each other in 2012 and both are back for more. 

The campaign season — even these last frenzied weeks — suit Queen just fine. He loves the ballgames, homecomings and festivals. 

fr classwarfareTax reform was one of the top issues tackled by the new Republican majority in Raleigh last year, but voters hitting the polls this election season don’t yet know whether they’ve come out ahead or behind, since the changes don’t come into play until next April’s tax returns.

fr samesexJamie Kemper knew it’d happen. She just didn’t think it’d happen this quickly.

“We thought it’d be a few years,” Kemper said. 

fr magistrateIn the short walk from the doors of the Swain County Courthouse to the steps outside it, a couple of people stopped Gilbert Breedlove to shake his hand, ask him if it was true he was resigning his post as magistrate judge and express support. After holding the job for nearly 24 years, this was the last day that Breedlove would spend his working hours in the courthouse.

Friday, 17 October 2014 18:58

New roof for Waynesville middle

Waynesville Middle School is set to get a new roof, following a vote by Haywood County Commissioners to approve a project that the Haywood County School Board OK’d Sept. 8. The project will finish off a campaign against leaky roofs that Tracy Hartgrove, the school system’s maintenance director, has been championing since he arrived eight years ago.