Alderwoman Janet Banks and Alderman Phillip Wight were re-elected for second terms. Wight served a four-year term while Banks was elected two years ago to fill a vacant seat on the board.
Even with the disadvantage of being a write-in candidate, Maggie Valley Alderwoman Saralyn Price easily claimed the mayor seat. Price, who is only two years into her third term on the board, decided to run as a write-in candidate following the untimely death of the late Mayor Ron DeSimone in July. DeSimone had signed up to run for a second term but died in a construction accident the same day the candidate sign up period ended.
Knowing the two other mayoral challengers — Jasay Ketchum and Justin Phillips — have been critical of DeSimone and some of the current board’s decisions, Price wanted to offer voters a candidate who wanted to continue with DeSimone’s vision for the valley.
Price was not able to be reached for comment on election night.
“This is the first write-in campaign in Maggie Valley history to succeed history — the fact she pulled that off is an amazing feat and she should be congratulated for that,” Banks said. “I’m glad I get to continue working with her on the board.”
Banks banked the most votes out of the four candidates running for the board.
“I think it’s great and I really appreciate the faith the Maggie Valley voters have in me to be part of their leadership for the next four years,” she said.
While the previous Maggie board was dysfunctional and argumentative, Banks ran on the promise of working collaboratively and respectively with the board to improve the town for residents and businesses.
She feels like the board has accomplished a good working relationship in the last two years. Now that some groundwork has been laid, Banks said the real work could begin. She said the next four more years can be spent creating a concrete town center plan and working toward implementing the plan by finding funds in the budget and by leveraging grant funding. She hopes a more attractive Soco Road corridor will attract new business and more tourism dollars.
Wight received the second highest number of votes for alderman but it was a close call. He only had three more votes than candidate Billy Case. Wight’s first two years on the board were tumultuous, as he didn’t see eye to eye with DeSimone and other board members. Since new board members were elected two years ago, he was often the lone opposition on issues.
Even with the disagreements on the board he managed to accomplish many of his campaign goals to cut taxes by 3 percent, reduced fees for new and expanding businesses and pay off town debt on town hall, festival grounds and the police department. Now that he has another four years ahead of him, Wight said voters could expect more of the same from him.
“I thank the people who came out and supported me and who appreciate the things we’ve accomplished in the last several years,” he said. “I’m looking forward to helping maintain a conservative voice on the board in Maggie Valley.”
Once the board and mayor are sworn in, its first challenge will be to fill Price’s vacated alderman seat. A vacant seat is what nearly tore the town apart in 2012 when an alderman resigned. The board attempted to appoint someone but was split 2-2 on who the appointee should be. The stalemate continued for a year until the next election in 2013 when Banks was elected.
Banks hopes the board will be able to use the method the town of Clyde did last year to fill an empty board seat. Clyde aldermen called for applications, conducted interviews and asked tough questions of the candidates before choosing a replacement.
Wight agreed that the board should conduct interviews in public to find the best applicant.
“I hope people who have run this year will apply and hopefully we can put some more conservative leadership in that seat,” he said. “Hopefully we can all agree on who would be most suited to fill that seat.”