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New candidate takes on Bryson City mayor

election timeThe election for the Bryson City Board of Aldermen looked like it would be a landslide for the incumbents early last week, but that had all changed by last Friday as four more people signed up to run for office.

Newcomers Mike Treadway, Tee Angel and Heidi Woodard signed up to run for the two available aldermen seats alongside incumbents Kate Welch and Jim Gribble.  

Mayor Tom Sutton will also have some competition since Catherine Cuthbertson signed up to run against him.  

“I decided to run just to offer people a choice and hopefully increase participation,” Cuthbertson said.  “I really think the folks in Bryson City should feel like they have a say and I think we’re a small enough town to be able to be responsive to that.”

Cuthbertson has been a psychologist in the Swain County school system since she moved to Bryson City in 1993.  With two grown children and retirement looming in the next year or so, she now has the extra time to devote to public service. She said her extensive experience in the education system gave her a unique perspective on how to improve the town.

“I would like to be a voice for the people and to make their concerns known,” she said. “I come from a background in education where we have a lot of teams that do everything. I’ve always found that you get a better outcome when you have more voices at the table.”

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Sutton, a parole officer, also ran four years ago as a write-in candidate so the people of Bryson City would have a choice. Now he wants to seek a second term to continue with the town’s efforts to complete several projects. 

Treadway, 45, has also worked in the Swain County school system for more than 20 years as a teacher assistant, teacher, principal and now as the director of exceptional children. 

With a business degree, experience in education and also service on the Economic Development Commission, Treadway thinks he would make a good addition to the town board. While he may not know all the issues, he said he was born and raised in Bryson City and wants to give back. 

“I have a love of Bryson City and Swain County, and I felt like we ought to have a choice (of candidates),” he said. “I’m really interested in the development of Bryson City and have a fear for higher taxes and reduced services.”

He said he doesn’t think a small municipality like Bryson City should act as a lone entity with the “us against the world” mentality that it’s had in the past. 

Angel, 56, would also like to see more unity between the town, locals and “transplants.” She came to Bryson City nine years ago and has served on the Tourism Development Authority and currently is a member of the Bryson City Merchants Association. 

“I just feel like when you work on different boards and issues come up, it’s nice because you can integrate all the needs of the public and private sector,” she said. “I want to form a union between locals and everyone else — we need to unify and be Brysonians first.”

Angel and her husband own Anthony’s Italian Restaurant and Angel Cabins in Bryson City. As an employer of about 30 people, Angel said she understands the need for improved tourism and also improved infrastructure like better streets and sidewalks. 

“I feel like we have some good candidates who can bring a fresh look at the city without unnecessarily undoing everything,” she said. “I can see from multiple points of view before picking a side and I want everyone to become involved and vote.”

Woodard is the director of visitor services at the Swain County Chamber of Commerce. She was born and raised in Swain County, moved away for several years, and has been living in Bryson City for the past 11 years.

Welch has served on the board since 1995 and said she thinks the current board is making good progress. 

Gribble said he is seeking another term in order to see some projects come to fruition, including a new water meter system, hiring a new town manager and the potential closing of Fry Street to construct a pedestrian plaza. 

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