Archived News

Partisan elections bill passes, with one major change

Changes are coming to municipal elections in North Carolina's 118th House district. Changes are coming to municipal elections in North Carolina's 118th House district. NCGA photo

Just two hours after Senators failed to concur on a bill that would have forced Haywood and Madison counties to hold partisan municipal elections, a conference committee worked out a slightly different version of the bill, which passed shortly after 8 p.m.

Haywood County was removed from the bill’s text.

Senate Bill 9, sponsored by Wake County Democratic Senators Gail Adcock and Sydney Batch, was filed back in January and concerned municipal government appointments in the Wake County town of Apex.

But by June 28, it had expanded to include language advanced by Republican Rep. Mark Pless (R-Haywood) that proposed holding partisan elections — effective this year — in Canton, Clyde, Maggie Valley, Marshall, Mars Hill and Waynesville.

Hot Springs, in Madison County, was to be given an exemption until the 2025 election.

That maneuver came after an unsuccessful 2022 attempt by Pless as well as a 2023 version of the bill earlier this spring that ended up going nowhere fast.

Related Items

Around 5:45 p.m. on Aug. 16, SB9 hit the floor, but Adcock took the unusual step of recommending the Senate not concur on her own bill.

Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) then appointed a conference committee consisting of Adcock, Sen. Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth) and Sen. Phil Berger (R-Guilford). Berger also serves as president pro temp of the Senate.

The House’s conference committee included Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford), Rep. Erin Paré (R-Wake) and Pless.

What they came up with was largely the same as what was presented earlier that day, but without Haywood County. Now, only Madison County will be subject to the partisan municipal election provisions.

Marshall and Mars Hill, along with the Madison County Board of Elections, will soon begin the process of sorting out how, exactly, candidates who already registered in nonpartisan elections will adapt to the partisan election regimen in time for the Nov. 7 municipal election.

Partisan municipal elections will take place in Hot Springs beginning with the 2025 elections.

Pless’ previous efforts proved unpopular with nearly all the elected officials the partisan elections would affect. Most said they didn’t want national party polarization to trickle down to the local level. Pless has maintained that partisan municipal elections would make it easier for voters to identify the political positions candidates hold.

Smokey Mountain News Logo
Go to top
Payment Information


At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.