A fraction of the registered voters within the Franklin city limits cast ballots in the 2021 municipal election, with less than 400 voters showing up to the polls despite over 2,000 voters being registered. For the Highlands and Franklin Municipal election combined, only 23.38 percent of registered voters — 886 of 3,789 — cast ballots to decide the next leaders of each municipality. More voters cast ballots in the Highlands race than did so in Franklin, even though Franklin has more than double the registered voters.
Jack Horton, who ran unopposed for the Franklin Mayor seat, was elected with 321 votes. The seat also received 22 write-in candidate votes.
Town voters were able to select three out of five candidates for the Franklin Town Board vacant seats. Newcomer Rita Salain was the top vote-getter with 268 votes. Incumbent David Culpepper was re-elected to another term with 265 votes and tied with Stacy Guffey — securing Guffey’s seat on the Franklin board.
Although not elected to the board, candidate Frances Seay received 193 votes followed by JimBo Ledford with 81 votes.
Because Horton, who currently serves on the town board, was elected as Mayor, his seat will now become vacant. The new Franklin board, which will be sworn into office in December, will be responsible for appointing someone to finish out the remainder of Horton’s term on the board.
Just under 500 voters cast ballots for the Highlands municipal elections, which amounts to around 50% of eligible voters. While about 900 residents are registered to vote in Highlands, 490 cast ballots for the November Municipal election, which is actually a higher turnout rate than in year’s past.
Incumbent Mayor Pat Taylor was re-elected after receiving 343 votes to challenger Marc Hehn’s 145 votes. Hehn, who currently sits on the Highlands Town Commission, will be able to retain his seat on the town board as a commissioner. There were also two write-in candidates this election cycle. In large part, Highlands voters took advantage of early voting which gained 296 of the 490 total votes cast. 185 voters cast ballots on Election Day, which concluded at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 2. The town of Highlands also received seven absentee ballots.
Highlands Town Commissioner incumbent Amy Patterson and former board member Eric Pierson were also re-elected with an overwhelming majority of votes. Voters were allowed to cast ballots for two of six candidates on the Highlands Board of Commissioners, with the top two vote-getters being elected to the board. Patterson garnered 261 votes and Pierson finished with 238 votes.
While not elected to the board, challenger Thomas Craig received 139 votes, Pat Allen received 128 votes, Mary Bynum received 91 votes and Nicolaus McCall received 40 votes. There was also one write-in candidate for the town board.
Candidates will be sworn in ahead of the December board meeting.
Sylva Town Board Results & other Jackon County towns
Sylva Mayor Lynda Sossamon, who ran unopposed, will remain on the board for another four year term.
Political newcomer and Sylva business owner Natalie Newman was the top vote-getter in the Sylva Town Board election with 140 votes, while incumbent Mary Kelley Gelbaugh secured the second vacant seat with 125 votes.
Incumbent and longtime board member Barbara Hamilton will leave the board this December after coming in just five votes behind Gelbaugh. Candidates who also were not elected were Carrie McBane who finished fourth with 79 votes, and Luther Jones, whose name appeared on the ballot despite him withdrawing prior to the election, received 15 votes.
Other Jackson towns also held elections, however, the turnout was minimal and many candidates ran unopposed.
David Jones was elected as the Mayor of Dillsboro and received 10 votes. All five seats on the Dillsboro Town Council appeared on the ballot, which each of the five candidates to appear on the ballot receiving 10 votes — the Dillsboro board will be James Cochran, David Gates, Tim Hall, Tim Parris, and Beauford Riddle.
James Wallace was elected as the Mayor of Forrest Hills, located in Cullowhee, after receiving 28 votes. There were 5 write-in votes cast. Daniel Shields and Ron Yount were elected to the Forest Hills Council with 32, 31 votes respectively.
Tracy Rodes was elected as Mayor of Webster with 32 votes while Keigh Anne Young and Danell Moses were elected to the Webster Board of Commissioners. There were three seats open and only two names on the ballot. However, the race garnered 20 write-in votes, which could decide who will receive the third open seat.
Bryson City Election Results
Two seats on Bryson City’s four-seat Board of Aldermen were decided Tuesday night, with incumbent Ben King being re-elected with 80 of the 110 votes cast. With Janine Crisp not running for re-election, her seat will be filled by newcomer Steven Augustine, who received 62 votes. John Mark Gallagher was not elected and garnered 38 votes.