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Six vie for three seats on Franklin board; Bryson City incumbents face challengers

Sign ups for Franklin’s Town Council were coming in slow until the last day, and now there are six candidates signed up to run for three available seats on the board. Councilmember incumbents Barbara McRae and Billy Mashburn signed up to run for another term while Patti Abel decided against a second term.

Challengers for the 2017 election will be David Culpepper, Greg Raby, Jimbo Ledford and Angela Moore. While Moore has run for town council before, the other candidates are newer to town politics. Culpepper, owner of Culpepper’s Otto Depot, often appears before the town board to offer his opinions on issues.

Moore also has been involved in town meetings — usually to express her dissatisfaction on how taxpayer money is being spent whether it’s donating to local nonprofits providing essential community services or railing against the town’s minimal housing standards ordinance.

Jimbo Ledford, owner of Jimbo’s Plumbing in Franklin, was one of several outdoor enthusiasts last April to present the town board with a concept for a multi-use town park at the former Whitmire property. The town has owned the green space property for years and still hasn’t made a decision on the best use for it.

McRae, former editor of The Franklin Press, is running for her second term in office. As a local historian, McRae has been heavily involved in the Nikwasi-Cowee corridor through Macon and Cherokee.

While it was up in the air whether he would seek another term, Councilmember Billy Mashburn did sign up to run for re-election. He has served on the town board for about 20 years.

Interest was high for the board positions — though not as high as the 2013 election when 12 candidates signed up to run — but Mayor Bob Scott will not have to face any opponent before the election. Scott didn’t have a challenger during the 2015 election either. This will be Scott’s third term in office, though the mayor only serves two-year terms.


Bryson City incumbents face challengers

Bryson City Board of Aldermen incumbents Rick Bryson and Janine Crisp will have to go up against three challengers to keep their seats in November.

Bryson and Crisp are both finishing up their first, four-year terms on the board and have received their fair share of criticism over the divisive issue of whether the town should relinquish its right of way to Fry Street so it can be closed to vehicular traffic. Swain County Chamber of Commerce members and the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad supported the closure for safety reasons associated with train rides, especially during the popular Polar Express in the winter months. However, the town board denied the full closure of Fry Street.

For Ben King, co-owner of Bryson City Outdoors and now a candidate for alderman, it was a much broader issue of the town being more progressive and working alongside local businesses to support the tourism industry.

The two other challengers are Lisa Anthony Weeks and Robert Brian Duplak.

While voter turnout for municipal elections in Bryson City are typically low, the town board of aldermen recently approved spending more than $3,000 to offer early voting days prior to the Nov. 7 election.


Incumbents run in Highlands

The municipal election is Highlands will be a quiet one since only the incumbents signed up to run. Mayor Patrick Taylor will serve another term and so will Highlands Commissioner incumbents Amy Patterson and Donnie Calloway.

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