New mayor, council members for Sylva
Unofficial votes are in, and Sylva voters have selected not only a new mayor, but two new council members as well.
Mayoral candidate Johnny Phillips won 255 votes to Natalie Newman’s 174; or 59% to 40% of the vote respectively.
Johnny Phillips is originally from Sylva and spent 30 years working for the North Carolina Department of Transportation, followed by time in the private sector. Phillips also has extensive experience serving on and chairing public boards.
Natalie Newman was first elected to Sylva’s town board in 2021, when she beat out two incumbents and garnered the most votes of any candidate. In addition to her role on the town board, Newman serves on the Main Street Sylva Association Board and as a Jackson County Chamber Ambassador. She has lived in the area since 2011 and works as a property manager.
In addition to the contest for mayor, three seats were up for election this cycle on the Sylva Town Council with six candidates competing for those spots. Incumbent Brad Waldrop won the most votes of any other council member candidate with 242 votes, or almost 20% of the vote. Newcomer Mark Jones has come in second place with 206 votes or about 17% of the vote.
Waldrop was born and raised in Sylva and graduated from both Smoky Mountain High School and Western Carolina University. He is the co-owner and general manager of Ward Plumbing, Heating & Air, has been a member of the Sylva Rotary Club for over two years and has served on the Jackson County Planning Board for one year.
Jones is a lifelong resident of Sylva, working 30 years as a sales manager at a local business.
Behind Jones, Blitz Estridge and Ben Guiney are unofficially tied for third place with 204 votes each, or 16.8% of the vote. If the tie stands after the Jackson County Board of Elections canvass later this month, a coin flip or draw will determine the winner between Estridge and Guiney.
Incumbent Council Member Guiney also tied for third place during the 2019 election, after which he won a seat following a coin flip for the seat.
Guiney, an emergency room doctor, has lived in Sylva since 2014 and was first elected to the town board in 2019, following three years on the town’s planning board.
Estridge is originally from southern Florida and has lived in Sylva since moving here while in high school. He has a degree in electrical fundamentals and owns Catamount Electric based in Dillsboro.
Turnout appears to be up from 2021 municipal elections when 330 ballots were cast to this year’s 469. In 2021, 378 ballots were cast.