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Bryson City mayor keeps his seat; board of aldermen welcomes one new member

election timeAs the municipal elections were coming to a close last Tuesday night, it became clear that the race in Bryson City would be too close to call. 

Official results finally came in Tuesday morning — Mayor Tom Sutton kept his seat as mayor, and incumbent Jim Gribble and newcomer Heidi Woodard will fill the two open seats on the board. Sutton defeated his mayoral challenger Catherine Cuthbertson by only six votes, while Gribble and Woodard tied with 95 votes. 

Joan Weeks, Swain County elections director, said the final results relied on eight provisional ballots that couldn’t be officially counted until a week later. A provisional ballot is cast when someone comes to vote but the elections staff is unable to determine whether they are really registered to vote. Weeks said the voter is allowed to complete a ballot but it is counted only if and when the voter registration is verified through the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles.

With six candidates running for two open seats on the board of aldermen and only 237 ballots cast in the election, there were just a couple of votes separating the top three vote-getters on election night. Gribble had 94 votes, challenger Heidi Woodard had 93 votes and incumbent Kate Welch had 91 votes while the other three candidates had less than 80 votes each. 

The race for mayor was also a close call. Sutton had 102 votes on election night and Cuthbertson had 99 votes, making it a toss-up until Tuesday morning. Write-in candidate Jeramy Shuler received 33 votes for mayor. 

The newly elected board members and mayor will be sworn in at the next board meeting. The Bryson City Board of Aldermen meets at 6 p.m. on the first Monday of each month at Town Hall, 45 Everett Street, Bryson City.

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