We The People of Ashe County, a “conservative-minded” organization loosely affiliated with the “Tea Party” movement, is hosting a forum for the 12 candidates running for a seat on the Ashe County Board of Commissioners in the May 6 primary.
The forum is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 25, at Faith Fellowship Church, 676 S. Main St., Jefferson. The forum will be open to the general public.
“We thought it might be helpful to inform everybody about who’s running for county commissioner,” Donald Nelson, media director for We The People, said. “There isn’t a whole lot of information out there yet.”
According to Nelson, 10 candidates have expressed interest in attending and two declined due to scheduling conflicts.
Of the 12 on the May 6 ballot, three are incumbents: Judy Porter Poe (R), Gerald Price (R) and William Sands (R). Those looking to unseat them are: Richard Blackburn (D), Larry Dix (D), Lynn Graham (D), Cabot Hamilton (D), Dan McMillian (D), Mickey Pruitt (R), Brian “Bruno” Richardson (R), Jeff Rose (R) and Marjorie Shinkle (R).
At the forum, each candidate will be given five minutes to speak after which there will be a short “Question and Answer” session, as well as an opportunity for attendees to speak with the individual candidates.
“Candidates have been asked to present their views and plans for action on the county’s most pressing issues,” Nelson said in a press release. “For example, what should the commissioners do to address the challenges of job creation, growth, finances, taxes and new initiatives and policy matters in the county?”
“I think it’s gonna be well-attended,” Nelson said.
We The People has been meeting for five years, according to Nelson.
“The group was started by Tom Pope, Kershaw Getty, Ed McClaren and a few others,” Nelson said.
While We The People doesn’t offer memberships, there are 220 people on the organization’s mailing list, according to Nelson.
Nelson said the group’s purpose is to “educate and inform voters in Ashe County on mostly grassroots issues and some issues of national importance.”
“We’re for small government, a government that helps people achieve their personal goals through lower taxes and that serves community-based interests,” Nelson said.
Nelson said We The People will not be endorsing any of the candidates.
“No endorsements,” Nelson said. “That’s definitely not a part of this, not our agenda.”
Nelson wants to remind people that the Ashe Board of Elections projects a large turnout (40-45 percent) for the May 6 primary. There are about 18,000 registered voters in Ashe County.
“This translates into a need for candidates to reach more than the usual numbers of voters with a positive message,” Nelson said. “This meeting is a good opportunity for candidates to favorably tap into this expanded voter base of the county.”
Voting is already underway in the county and those who aren’t registered to vote have until April 11 to do so, in order to vote in the May 6 primary.
Absentee voting: Started Monday and those who wish to vote absentee can request a ballot online at www.ncsbe.gov or at the Ashe County Board of Elections office.
One-stop early voting: Thursday, April 24 - Saturday, May 3 at the Ashe County Courthouse and the Fleetwood Fire Deapartment.
Early voting: Thursday, April 24 - Saturday, May 3 at the Ashe County Courthouse. Tuesday, April 29 - Saturday, May 3 at the Fleetwood Fire Department.
Alan Bulluck can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @albulluck.