QUICK LINKS: Click here for a printable PDF "Pam's Picks" marked sample  ballot for the November 3rd elections. If you like, you can print it out and take it with you into your polling place. Click here for voting locations and hours.

Click here to read "My Take on This Year's Election."


The North Carolina General Assembly and the Watauga County Board of Elections continue to make significant changes to voting locations and continue to reduce ballot access opportunities. The State Board of Elections refused to site an early voting location on the Appalachian State University campus again for this year's election and has reduced early voting hours by almost 40%. These changes are designed to suppress voting options for progressive voters in hopes you will be too discouraged to cast a ballot.

Progressives cannot afford to become discouraged.  The future of our public schools, our air and water quality, our constitutional rights, our voting rights and quality of life are at stake. We must fight back - hard - against local and state voter discrimination efforts. We do that by exercising our constitutional right to vote.

YOU DO NOT NEED AN ID TO VOTE in this year's election although you may be asked if you have one. Thanks to recent court actions, this year you CAN register to vote and vote on the same day during the early voting period but you CANNOT register to vote and vote on election day. You can also vote "out of precinct" on election day this year. If you have moved from the address at which you are currently registered to vote, this means you can go to any other Town precinct (Legends for example) on election day and vote a provisional ballot (be sure to ask for it) even if your election day precinct is located elsewhere. 

Here are your options for casting a ballot in this year's municipal elections:


If you live in the Town of Boone but are not registered to vote, you can register and vote at the same time during the early voting period (not on Election Day). All registered town of Boone voters can vote at the ONLY  EARLY VOTING SITE AVAILABLE FOR THE UPCOMING ELECTION: the Administration Building (beside the downtown courthouse), across from Mellow Mushroom. It will be open for voting:

Thursday, October 22 and Friday, October 23: 8AM–5PM
Monday, October 26 through Friday, October 30: 8AM–5PM
Saturday, October 31: 8AM–5PM


You can vote at your regular election day precinct on election day. The election day precincts are listed here. If you are you are a registered voter who has moved from one precinct to another, you should vote during the early voting period in order to update your address and cast your ballot at the same time. If you do not know the location of your new precinct, call the Watauga County Board of Elections at 828.265.8061.

This year you also have the right to vote in a precinct other than the one where you reside if you say the magic words, "I want a provisional ballot." Don't let any poll worker tell you otherwise. In fact, the precinct judges are required to tell you if you are in the wrong precinct that you have three options: (1) Go to your correct precinct to vote, OR (2) go to the transfer precinct to vote (the Courthouse downtown), OR (3) cast a provisional ballot.


Go here: print out and fill out the Absentee Ballot Request form and mail it to:

Watauga County Board of Elections • PO Box 528 • Boone, NC 28607

OR print out and fill out the Absentee Ballot Request form, sign it, scan it, and email it to Donna.Houck@watgov.org

NOTE: Once you receive your absentee ballot, you will need two witnesses (or one notary) to sign it before you return it to the Board of Elections. Your witnesses do not have to be registered voters. Witnesses must be at least 18 years of age and can be family members. Witnesses do not have to be residents of Watauga County. Candidates for the election CANNOT be witnesses to your Ballot.  It will cost you 98 cents (two "forever" stamps) to return your ballot.

Important Election Day Polling Location Changes:

New River 3 Precinct Voters: Your election day polling location is located at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church: 3505 Bamboo Road. Click here for directions. There is no public transportation to the site.

Boone 3 Precinct Voters: On Election Day you vote at the Agricultural Conference Center on Poplar Grove Road. Boone 3 precinct voters should vote before Election Day at the Administration Building in Downtown Boone or by "provisional ballot" at Legends on Election Day.

Boone 2 Precinct Voters: On election day, you vote at the ASU Legends Building.

THE NOVEMBER 3TH BALLOT (how I will cast my ballot):

Click HERE for a printable PDF "Pam's Picks" marked sample ballot. If you like, you can take it with you into your polling place. You are NOT allowed to use your cell phone or any other electronic device inside the voting enclosure.

The Disclaimer: What is Pam's Picks?

“Pam’s Picks” is simply one person’s opinion about the 2015 Town of Boone municipal elections.  I am a progressive Boone resident and have long held interest in local politics and issues. Pam's Picks endorsements may or may not reflect endorsements of a political party, but Pam's Picks is not associated with any political party.

What's in Pam's Picks?

General voting information (when, where, and how) and information on candidates whose names will appear on your November 3rd Town of Boone municipal elections ballot. Tthe candidates are presented in the order they will appear on your ballot. I  have researched candidate campaign platforms and records where available. Information for my candidate discussions comes from individual candidate information, candidate voting records, press reports, non-partisan and partisan analysis, and other sources. I have also supplied candidate web site references and/or Facebook links where available. The majority of my candidate information comes from responses to a questionnaire I sent to all of the candidates. Even though Town of Boone municipal elections are non-partisan, I have provided the candidates' party affiliations. For additional information, you can follow the provided links or contact candidates directly with your questions.
 Pam's Picks does not endorse candidates who do not respond to the questionnaire.

SHORTCUTS to The Information On This Site:

Click here for the Pam's Picks disclaimer.
Click here for IMPORTANT INFORMATION about voting changes for this year's election.
Click here for recommendations on how to best cast your ballot this year.
Click here for recommendations on Voting Information (who can vote this ballot and early voting locations and hours).
Click here for your Election Day polling location.
Click here for "My Take On This Year's Election."
Click here for a full discussion of my endorsement for Town of Boone Mayor.
Click here for a full discussion of my endorsement for Town Council.
Click here for a full discussion of my endorsement for Town Council Unexpired Term.


All registered voters who reside in the Town of Boone are eligible to vote this ballot. This includes ASU students who live in dormitories on campus as well as those who live in off-campus housing within the Town of Boone.

Election Day Precinct Locations: Polls are open on Election Day, November 3rd, from 6:30AM-7:30PM.

Blue Ridge: Laurel Fork Baptist Church
Boone 1: Watauga County Administration Building, beside the Courthouse
Boone 2: ASU Legends
Boone 3: Agricultural Conference Center on Poplar Grove Road
Brushy Fork: Oak Grove Baptist Church
New River 1:  Boone Town Hall on Blowing Rock Road
New River 2: Three Forks Baptist Association
New River 3: Mt Vernon Baptist Church on Bamboo Road
North Fork: Edgar Eller's Garage

Need More Information?: Call the Watauga County Board of Elections at 265-8061.


Like every other year before this one, candidates talk the same platform: protect single family neighborhoods, "smart" growth, sustainability, walkability, support for small business, and a commitment to a "progressive" agenda.  And indeed some of those words are followed up with good action: greenway development, sidewalks, bike lanes, appearance standards, etc. But not only is the Council not meeting some of the most important progressive goals they have promised, they are instead actively defeating them.

• How can the Council on one hand commission and acknowledge a housing study that finds we are over-saturated with high-density student housing and then turn around and vote in favor of the same high-density student housing of a size never before seen in Boone (e.g., Scottish Inn, Southern States property, and the enormous project at Shadowline)?

• The Council leans on its 2030 vision plan to advocate for higher density development. While the 2030 plan lays out a beautifully illustrated argument for higher density, what we are currently building doesn't much look like the pictures and is not achieving the plan's promise of higher density with "a small town feel" and more green space in exchange for that higher density. Instead we are getting mega-sized student housing complexes (which isn't even fair to students who continue to pay exorbitant rent prices). It's not fair to small businesses either because while the town's ordinances require that the bottom level of these buildings be reserved for small businesses and professional offices, the town has been allowing developers to reduce that space requirement.

• Allowing high-density housing developments to build without requiring sufficient parking spaces for residents clearly isn't working. Yet the Council asks us not to worry, that everyone is going to finally get some exercise, be forced to walk instead of drive, and that everything is actually working according to a bigger vision and, besides, no-minimum parking standards complies with our ordinance. Meanwhile everyone (including our council members) is driving to work, to doctors' appointments, to a dinner out, and to meetings.

• Every time something becomes obviously screwed up (like Zaxby's), the Council decides to put pen to paper to look for ways to "tweak" development regulations, even though the problem is actually the result of the Board of Adjustments' vote to give the development a pass on complying with the town's development regulations in the first place. The traffic issues related to the Zaxby project were certainly predictable because the approved proposal included using a street which was not wide enough for two-way traffic, which the adjacent neighborhood insisted would be a problem, and which even Zaxby's traffic engineer conceded was a problem.

• The Town proclaims it is protecting traditional neighborhoods by pointing to development regulations like requiring the terraces on high rise apartment buildings to face away from low density neighborhoods instead of prohibiting developments where they don't belong in the first place.

• In response to a perverted reading of the Town's 2030 "what-do-we-want-to-look-like-in-the-future" Plan, and to a Board of Adjustments' request to please revise the town's ordinances because they are having to approve too many variances to accommodate developers who say the requirements are a "hardship," the Council is now considering a new "PUD" planned unit development initiative that will render the Town's UDO regulations and zoning districts defunct because it essentially does away altogether with the very regulations the Council has promised to enforce.

In other words, talk is cheap.

Bottomline: the Council continues to insist we have the tools to say "no" to unneeded and undesirable developments and yet continues to approve unneeded and undesirable developments. In fact, they have turned down virtually no high density projects at all, instead borrowing from future water allocations to accommodate those projects while at the same time crying that we are in danger of running out of water. To say all is well because what is happening in Boone is somehow consistent with adopted plans is the tail wagging the dog, and to hide behind these plans is an abdication.

Want more of the same? Then encourage a lot more of the development we are currently seeing in Boone by giving high-density developers more water.

Let me take you down the drainhole....

In the beginning, the Town convinced all of us, including me, that the Town was running out of water and needed to seek additional water resources for BOONE'S future growth. That's when the water intake project was born. But somewhere along the way, and behind closed doors, the Town decided to expand the intake project to include 1 million gallons per day of water for "unallocated reserve." There are, the best I can tell, two possible reasons for this unexplained expansion: (1) the Town cut some deal with the County to give them a bunch of water, again behind closed doors, to get them onboard with the intake project, and/or (2) the Town needed to include an additional 1 million gallons in order to qualify for the USDA loan it was seeking to finance the project. But of course that's just a guess.

Over the last few years, the then-County attorney, at my request, provided updates to the Town's Water Committee (on which I serve) of Raleigh legislative actions and state Court cases that could affect the Town's plans for the intake. The writing on the wall became clear: the state was going to eliminate Boone's ability to regulate developments in its ETJ, the state was going to confiscate the Town's water intake once it was completed, the state was going to place the water intake that the people of Boone had built under a regional water authority without financial compensation and without public consent, and the courts were warning that towns did not have the authority to swap water for compliance with land-use regulations anymore.

In spite of all these cold water slaps to the face, the majority of the Council brushed off the few water committee members who warned that we needed to back up and re-evaluate. And even as current signs suggest our warnings were accurate, the Council continues to plow forward because, well, ignorance is bliss.

So here's where we are now.

The Town Council is being led by the nose by a new Town Manager who is working overtime not to let the death of an intake project end up as any kind of evidence of a personal failure on his part, and under direction from a new attorney who is clearly in over her head, on more than one level, and who also happens to be a licensed real estate broker and general contractor. So instead of sensibly tabling the project for re-evaluation and developing a plan of action in response to reality, the Town Council has instead astonishingly decided to speed up the intake project, primarily because opposition to it is growing and because the Council feels the need to get themselves to higher ground before their constituents figure out what's going on and that they're on the financial hook for a project that has spiraled out of control. They've figured their best bet is to put on a happy face that we're almost there, regardless of where "there" leads us and regardless of what getting "there" will cost us.



So here's how we got there and what getting there means:

• This September the Town signed a contract with Watauga County to reserve 500,000 gallons of water per day for the county's use, to be made available to the county after the intake is completed. The water can be granted to any county property regardless of whether it is in or out of the Town's zoning jurisdiction. Sadly, in an effort to avoid public discussion of the easement terms, the Council attempted to approve it, as it had a previous easement agreement with the County, in a consent agenda.

• The contract states that the Town's 500,000 gallons per day of water reserve to the county was based on a "previously expressed intent" to provide the water. When I asked when the "previously expressed intent" occurred,  I was provided the minutes of a 2006 closed meeting in which the Council discussed their overall concept for an intake by answering a series of "give me some direction" questions from the Town Manager. Question #6 suggests the Council would support providing 500,000 gallons per day to non-Boone properties but would only allow line extensions and service to areas that are under the Town's zoning jurisdiction (the ETJ), a qualification that didn't make it into the contract.

• So while the Council insisted publicly it would not run huge amounts of water into the county with no development regulations, instead this past September they signed a contract to run 500,000 gallons of water per day into the county with no development regulations. And after the Council spent blood and political capital years ago to push through a steep slope ordinance to protect our mountain ridges, the current Council has handed over 500,000 gallons per day of water that will allow unregulated development up steep slopes.

• The Town insists it can still require that any development using its water out in the county will have to follow its development regulations because it says so and because it believes in pink ponies, even though the contract language with the county only ties development outside of Boone's zoning jurisdiction to the requirements of the Town's water and sewer code which does not in any way require developments outside Boone's zoning jurisdiction to follow the Town's development regulations.

• Even so, the Town has confirmed that even if they could somehow magically get away with regulating development outside of their zoning jurisdiction, they have absolutely no statutory authority whatsoever to permit or inspect or ensure compliance of said "regulated" development. I asked at a recent Water Committee meeting, "So if we don't have any statutory authority to inspect and regulate development outside our zoning areas, how will anyone ensure that the development in the county is meeting the development regulations?" The Planning and Inspections Director said, "Not me."

• When Councilwoman Clawson wanted to temporarily table the intake project to better plan for the inevitable State taking of Boone's new intake in light of the Asheville Water Court of Appeals decision (that says, "there is no constitutional prohibition against a State withdrawing from a municipality the authority to own and operate a public water system and transferring the municipality’s system to another political subdivision 'without compensation' to the municipality or 'without the consent' of the municipality’s citizens"), the majority of the Council chorus said not to worry because their crackerjack broker/contractor attorney had assured them the Asheville case isn't relevant to Boone. It is astonishing, not just to me but also to the three other attorneys I've consulted on this, that Council can actually say this with a straight face.

• The Town Council originally pooh-poohed the suggestion that the Town's new intake would end up handed over to a regional water authority where the town would likely get only 3 voting members on a 15 person board, and where the state legislature would make the majority of appointments to decide who and what developments got water and which could vote to disallow any conditions at all on that water. Now that Asheville lost its water in this same fashion, Council members just don't care and in some cases have been reduced to suggesting that might be a good thing.

• If not a water authority, what's your bet for how long it will take for the introduction and passage of a Soucek/Jordan local bill to deny allowing the Town to apply its development regulations outside its zoning jurisdiction? I'm figuring right around the same time the ribbon is cut on that new intake.

• The majority of the arguments put forth in favor of continuing on over the cliff (Brantz, Mason, and David) can be summed up in Mason's answers to the questionnaire, which can be read in full by clicking HERE:

    1. "The Town's water supply is inadequate for future needs." What exactly is our vision for this water now that we know we can't regulate development outside our zoning jurisdiction? And exactly what future needs are we talking about? Do we really have a need to run unregulated water into the County and up our steep slopes?
    2. "The Town has completed all required studies, obtained needed permits and easements and is ready to put this project out to bid." First the Town does not have all the needed easements--one of them is hung up in court as we speak awaiting a final decision by a judge as to whether the commissioners will have to approve first. And it looks like the Town Attorney missed the statutory filing deadline for paperwork associated with filing some or all of the 16 condemnations the Town rushed through to beat back a legislative bill that would jam things up. Second, we have studies for sure, but the ground has shifted dramatically since those studies. Things have significantly changed.

    3. "The Town also has secured very favorable financing terms for this project, which will be funded from water customers through the water/sewer fund and not from tax dollars." We've spent around $2 million so far on an intake project that no longer resembles anything close to what the public voted for in 2008. Why are we going to throw another $30 million plus down the hole for a project that has now expanded to run water into unregulated areas? As for tax dollars vs water/sewer charges--either way it's coming out of the hides of those who pay both, which happens to be all of us living in Boone, and our water/sewer rates are now some of the highest in the state because we are trying to build up enough in the coffers to pay off the debt to finance the project.

    4. "If the project is resumed in the future, water customers will face much higher water fees." There is no evidence to support this statement. By the same logic, we can say that if we don't build the intake, our water fees will go down.

    5. "The lack of an adequate public water supply will encourage development out in the county which will have to rely on wells." Well, at least we're finally acknowledging that we do plan to build an intake that will provide significant water resources out into the unregulated County. But the rest of the argument ignores, of course, that high intensity development follows water, and that while the size and scope of high density development  is limited with wells, it goes all steroid on water availability.

    6. "This will not only lead to urban sprawl in areas that have limited land use planning, but wells could compromise our water tables and potentially the water supply to our rivers."  Okay, but we get even more urban sprawl by running water lines into unregulated and unplanned land areas. Urban Sprawl is defined as "the spreading of urban developments onto undeveloped land near a city" or  "characterized by [an] unplanned and uneven pattern of growth." And as for "potential" compromising of our water tables with wells, how about the "definite" ruination of our quality of life by encouraging high density, unregulated, and unplanned development just outside the Town boundaries and up our steep slopes?

Everyone agrees that water availability significantly increases development density.  Everyone agrees higher development density follows water. Everyone agrees the Town has an effective steep slope ordinance, and everyone agrees the county does not. The Cottages of Boone was built on wells just outside the Town jurisdiction on an unregulated steep slope. With significant water availability plus unregulated land, we'll get many more and even higher density developments like this:

So who can we vote for on November 3rd who will back up and take a hard look at where we're headed before we proceed with the intake?

We have to make choices between a lot of bad options this year. Lynne Mason insists that the state won't take our water and continues to claim the Town can regulate development with the water even in the face of all evidence to the contrary.  Loretta Clawson has been trying to get the intake put on hold to re-evaluate but doesn't have the votes to even table for a few months to take a sane look at reality. Jeannine Collins is 100% behind the intake because it's a water plan not just for Boone but for the whole area. David Welsh would vote to table the intake because we don't have all the easements yet, but he supports giving 500,000 gallons per day of water to the county just to keep the peace. Jennifer Teague has been convinced by Mason that the Town can regulate development with intake water and that she's not gonna have to vote on it anyhow because shovels will already be in the dirt by the time she takes office. Charlotte Mizelle is conflicted as well but at least she smells a rat and has some concerns, so maybe there's some hope there before all is said and done. Rennie Brantz just believes everything will work itself out.

In light of all that, here are the specifics on the candidates and my reasons for endorsements and non-endorsements.

TOWN OF BOONE MAYOR (you may vote for one):

Rennie Brantz (Democrat): "Rennie Brantz" on Facebook

Brantz's full responses to the questionnaire are HERE.

Brantz is an ASU professor of History and is retiring from ASU this year. He has served on the Boone Town Council for approximately 10 years and as Mayor Pro Tem for several years. He recently became acting Mayor when former Mayor Andy Ball resigned in late July. Brantz says his short term as mayor thus far "has taught me the importance of careful preparation, active listening, balanced decision making, clear communication, and being available."

In his answers to my questionnaire, Brantz sees managing growth, increasing public input, defending the steep slope ordinance, updating long-term plans, and expanding cultural activities as the most important issues facing Boone. He believes  Boone is approving too many high-density housing projects (but continues to cast his own vote to approve them).  He supports Boone's "no minimum" parking requirements for large housing projects "as long as the developer provides reasonable off site parking opportunities for all tenets." Brantz supports the Town's contract with the County to provide 500,000 gallons per day of water to the County and the Town's water intake project. He believes the Town will be able to require Town development regulations in the County's unregulated territory, which it will not.

Brantz supports the Town's Urban Forestry Project, believes "The Comprehensive Plan needs revisiting to accommodate economic and political changes at the state and local levels," and does not believe the Boone Police Department should prioritize low level drug offenses. He has a solid record of assisting non-profits, encouraging the purchase and restoration of important town properties, and putting a positive face forward in Town matters.

I have known Brantz for decades and, like everyone else who knows him, find him to be one of the friendliest and most patient people I know. These are, of course, exceptional and necessary traits for any Mayor.  Brantz is very progressive on most issues, but has pushed for streamlining development requirements in order to move large projects through faster.  Brantz is also naive about what is at stake as a result from the Town's continuation of the intake project. He does not believe the state legislature will confiscate the Town water intake and remains convinced that the Town will be able to apply its development regulations to new water applicants (which it will not). He either simply dismisses out of hand or chooses to ignore any of the concerns or facts related to problems with the intake. That's because he believes people in the end will just do the right thing, including a County without zoning regulations and a contract much in their favor. All that said, I think Brantz is clearly the better choice of the two options for Mayor in this election.

Ryan Hollingsworth (Republican): "Ryan Hollingworth" on Facebook

Hollingsworth did not respond to the questionnaire.

Hollingworth is 23 years old and is a self-described political conservative. He works at Mount Vernon Baptist Church and is an ASU student majoring in building science design and sustainable energy. Hollingsworth lists his agenda as: parking deck, finish Howard street project, support our local downtown merchants, stop wasting taxpayer money on lobbyists and unnecessary lawsuits. He says, "I don’t think it matters about your age, but what you are trying to do. I have heart for the people of Boone. That’s all that matters.”

If Hollingsworth wants to be Mayor, he needs to rethink his Facebook page.

TOWN COUNCIL (you may vote for three):

Loretta Clawson (Democrat): "Loretta Clawson for Boone Town Council" on Facebook

Clawson's full responses to the questionnaire are HERE.

Clawson served as a Town Council member for 8 years before serving as Town of Boone Mayor for another 8 years. After a short (less than 2 year) retirement from public service, Clawson was appointed to fill Jennifer Pena's unexpired term when Pena moved to Greensboro. One of the many things I like about Clawson is that she's a solidly working class gal who grew up on the backside of Beech Mountain, and she doesn't pull any punches when she lays out her vision: "I am running for town council because I believe I can make a difference.  I am concerned about the direction the town has been taking.  I believe we have small town charm but are in danger of losing it.  I think we need to pay more attention to what we are approving.  We should never be a rubber stamp town."

In her answers to the questionnaire, Clawson says "the possibility of losing our neighborhoods" and too much high-density housing are the Town's greatest current challenges. She says the Town is approving too many high-density development projects, has lost its focus, and she "cannot believe that we are allowing big housing projects to be built without any parking or with just a few (parking) spaces." Clawson opposes the Town's contract to provide 500,000 gallons per day of water to the County ("We could see multifamily buildings going up in the county on steep slopes and other unregulated areas") and supports tabling the Town's water intake project ("I believe that if we get this new water system we will lose it just like Asheville lost its") She supports the Town's Urban Forestry Plan ("I've always been a tree hugger"), believes the Police Department handles drug offenses fairly, and believes the Town should work with ASU to maximize on-campus housing for students.

Throughout her Town service, Clawson has been a tireless and consistent advocate for established neighborhoods, is
unafraid to buck her fellow Council members, is straightforward, and is savvy and forward-thinking about the long-term implications of Council actions. Even Council members who disagree with Clawson agree that she is one of the best public servants the Town has ever had. While I have not agreed with Clawson on various issues over the years, I share her vision for the Town and wholeheartedly support her re-election.

Jeannine Underdown Collins (Democrat): "Jeannine Underdown Collins" on Facebook

Collins' full responses to the questionnaire can be read HERE.

Collins Jeannine Underdown Collins is the President of Underdown and Associates of Boone, a real estate appraisal services company. She is a graduate of ASU and  received an ASU alumni Outstanding Service Award in 1996 and subsequently served on the ASU Board of Trustees, including as Chair. Collins also has volunteered with the County's Economic Development Commission and the Tourism and Development Authority.

Collins' views as the Town's most pressing challenges sufficient "infrastructure of the Town of Boone to keep up with its constant growth" and "smart use of monies." She agrees with resident concerns that the Town is approving too many high-density developments and wants to look for ways to encourage more affordable single-family developments. Collins believes the Town's minimum parking requirements are not sufficient and wants to revisit the Town's earlier requirement that there be 1.5 parking spaces per bedroom built.

Collins supports the 500,000gpd water allocation to the County: "This is a plan, reserve for the future of the entire area." She likewise supports continuation of the Towns' water intake project: "It is important to support the former leaderships' position in seeing the intake completed for the betterment of entire area, while at the same time, it being completed expeditiously." She supports the Town's Urban Forestry plan and believes "any illegal use of alcohol or drugs should be punishable."

I do not know Collins personally (although I find from her Facebook posts, she and I have some common interests). From her answers to the questionnaire, I also believe she expresses a vision for the Town's future similar to mine, but I also believe Collins' desire to provide water resources for the entire region in spite of the region's lack of development regulations undermines her expressed desire for Boone to continue its "small town atmosphere."

Lynne Mason (Democrat): "Lynne Mason" on Facebook

Mason's full responses to the questionnaire are extensive and detailed. You can read them in full HERE.

Mason has served 4 terms on the Boone Town Council. During her tenure, she has served on the Affordable Housing Taskforce, the Tourism Development Authority, the Downtown Boone Development Association, the Transportation Committee and Alternative Transportation Council. She has also served with NC League of Municipalities Legislative Action Committees since 2010.

Mason answers that she has been "a leader on the Town Council that has abandoned the status quo," that she represents no special interests, and that she is "strongly committed to building a better Boone for today and generations to come." Among other things, Mason touts her successes as managing growth, adopting the Town's 2030 vision plan, protecting neighborhoods, preserving green space, and planning for a new water intake.

While Mason says "balancing protection and preservation of our natural resources with planned and responsible development" is the Town's most pressing concern, she adds that "this issue is driven by the market and projects that are approved have been in compliance with Town development ordinances." Mason believes an updated parking analysis is needed and supports the water allocation of 500,000 gallons per day to the County, believes this allocation is subject to Town ordinances, and likewise supports continuation of the intake project. She says the town has all the necessary permits, the Town's current water supply is inadequate for future needs, the financing package is "very favorable," and building with wells creates urban sprawl. Mason supports the Town's Urban Forestry Plan and believes the Town's Unified Development Ordinance needs to be updated to be consistent with the Town's 2030 plan. 

I have joined Mason over the years in battling for progressive action in the Town. I first met her when we fought together to ensure housing for folks with few resources who were being run out of their homes to make way for the Fairfield Inn and encouraged her to run for a Council seat. Mason (with Clawson & Brantz) took some real hits when they had the courage to stand up against the Templetons and other developers to pass the Town's very important Steep Slope ordinance. I consider Lynne and her husband, Andy, good friends.

I have enormous respect for Mason. She is tireless in advocating for what she believes, but the fact is I hold a contrary opinion to most of what she has advocated for over the past few years (see "My take on what's at stake in this election"). While Mason espouses a compelling progressive agenda and list of achievements, she equates the adoption of "plans" with success, even when those plans are ineffective or ignored.  It's not just the water intake. It's the "no minimum parking standards" and her votes to support virtually every large water allocation to mega-multifamily projects in the face of an ever growing surplus. If all these things and others collectively have allowed what people like me who live here to consider a decline in the quality of life, how can these be accomplishments?

Mason is friendly and outgoing, and I am sure she will be re-elected this year with or without my endorsement. The most difficult decision Pam's Picks has ever made is the one not to endorse Mason this year, but I feel that by endorsing a candidate whose priorities don't match mine would be an abandonment of what I promised this site would be. And I'm just not willing to ditch that principle.

Charlotte Mizelle (Democrat): "Charlotte Mizelle" on Facebook

Mizelle's full responses to the questionnaire can be read HERE.

Mizelle's background is in heathcare management, with extensive experience in managing high dollar capitol projects. She and her husband moved to Boone from eastern North Carolina, seeking life in a small but vibrant mountain town. She says she is running for office "to preserve all that is good here and work to fix what needs fixing." She cites preservation of neighborhoods and downtown parking as critical issues facing Boone and is concerned about "some serious departures from what I believe the zoning should have been" to protect Boone's estalished neighborhoods: "Not protecting neighborhoods is a way of eventually killing the goose that laid the golden egg. We have to have more foresight than that."

Mizelle does not support "no minimum" parking standards for high-density housing developments. She notes that when ASU students come to college, the number of cars in town doubles: "The “no minimum parking rule” makes no sense to me at all. Adequate parking must be required and adjacent to every home, apartment and student bedroom." Mizelle supports the Town's Urban Forestry Plan and wants to work to require that trees not only be planted live but kept live as well. She also supports the Town's 2030 plan but worries that some approved building plans do not fit its vision and that the parking needs are re-assessed.

Mizelle believes the Town could have gotten a better deal with the County in exchange for the 500,000 gallons per day of water, including a refund of the $2 million in taxes taken from Boone by the county a few years ago. She also has concerns about the easement agreement because the County lacks essential zoning rules and regulations for development and because the Town has no jurisdiction on County development and construction on county land. Even in light of all these valid concerns, Mizelle remains conflicted about tabling the Town's intake project. She notes that currently there is "more than enough water for the town’s current users." She also says that since all the permits, plans and financing have been secured for the intake, and there's a lot of new construction going on, it might "be reasonable to proceed," but she then worries about the wisdom of building a $32 million system the state might confiscate or the possible loss of Boone's ETJ.

Mizelle seems to believe and be thankful that she will never have the opportunity to have to vote on continuing or tabling the intake. I don't know where she got that idea. Mizelle, if elected, will have every chance to table or continue the intake. In fact, she will have complete authority and power to ask for a vote to table at any meeting of her choosing. If she doesn't vote to table the intake, that is a vote to continue, and she, along with all the others who vote to move forward, will in the end be held responsible for the intake's ultimate effects on the Town and surrounding area.

David Welsh (Unaffiliated): "David J. Welsh for Boone Town Council" on Facebook

Welsh's full responses to the questionnaire can be read HERE.

Welsh is a fulltime realtor/broker with Caldwell Banker and with over 18 years of selling and renting homes in the Boone market. He has served on the Town's Board of Adjustments since 2013 and has a background in contracts and contract negotiating. He is especially concerned that Boone "maintain its small-town feel as it continues to grow."

Welsh believes increased development and its resulting traffic is one of the Town's greatest challenges and supports the Daniel Boone By-pass. He believes the Town needs more "beatification committees" and a continued effort to build more sidewalks and bike trails. Welch says the Town needs to be more discerning in approving high-density development projects and is concerned that the Town is "hitting a level of saturation," but he does not support rezoning to provide more single-family building because it could devalue property.  Welsh believes Boone needs to encourage "more 55+ development and put a cap on high density student housing."
Welsh supports increasing the number of parking spaces for both tenants and commercial development. He supports the vision of the 2030 plan but believes parts of it are unrealistic for some tracts of land: "We need to grow slowly and in a smart way for Boone to keep its small town feel."  Welsh supports the Town's Urban Forestry project but believes that the town's tree protection regulations are not strong enough. Welsh approves of the 500,000 gallons per day of water contract with the County because "we need to work better with the county on all issues and stop the cycle of disagreements." He would, however, table the intake project because the Town closed on the intake property without achieving all the easements.

But, while Welsh's record (1 1/2 years) as a Board of Adjustment member indicate he is sometimes wary of granting some variances to large projects, he usually does so anyway in spite of his stated willingness to put a cap on high-density housing.

For example, on April 3, 2014, the "Standard of Boone" (huge building on Hwy 321) requested 8 variances to the Town's zoning regulations, including, among other things, increasing the maximum allowable building footprint; allowing a reduction in the percentage of street level floor area that was required to be commercial; increasing the building height within the protected neighborhood zone; and an allowance for more height than they were allowed with the distance they had set the building back. All of the variances except one passed, but Welsh only voted against decreasing the commercial space and allowing an increase of building height in the neighborhood zone.

I like Welsh and almost endorsed him for a seat on Council. I find most of his responses to the questionnaire thoughtful, but I haven't seen much evidence to date of actions to support what he says.

TOWN COUNCIL UNEXPIRED TERM (you may vote for one):

Jennifer Teague (Democrat): "Jennifer Teague for Boone Town Council" on Facebook

Teague's full responses to the questionnaire can be read HERE.

Teague has lived in Boone for 14 years and became Director at the Lois E. Harrill Senior Center in Boone in 2013. Before that, she coordinated marketing and admissions at Deerfield Ridge Assisted Living. She has a Bachelor's degree in sociology and a master's in community counseling from ASU. Teague says she is running for Boone Town Council because "I believe it is important for individuals to be active in their community."  She wants to build partnerships with ASU and the County "to build partnerships that will grow Boone in a healthy and sustainable way." Teague believes the most important issues facing Boone are housing and parking. She wants to create incentives to revitalize older developments and encourage more single family developments, require sufficient parking for new developments, match "new projects with the current neighborhood and community in which they are being suggested," and explore options for parking decks.

Teague supports the 2030 vision plan, but believes in regards to mixed use developments, "the implementation of the vision has not had the intended results of the vision." Teague says the Town doesn't actually have "no minimum" parking standards. Instead, the Town Planning and Inspections Administrator has the authority to adjust the minimum required number of parking spaces downward. (ED--That is the definition of "no minimum" standards). Nonetheless, Teague promises to "look at these rules to see if new or different standards should be created to limit the amount of deductions a developer can remove." She supports the Town's Urban Forestry Plan and does not believe pursuit of low-level drug offenses should be a priority.

Teague says her understanding is that the agreement to give the County 500,000 gallons per day of water was made in closed session and without knowing what occurred in that closed session, it's hard for her to approve or disapprove of the contract, but she sees no issues with the agreement as long as the County has to abide by the Town's development issues (which it does not) and as long as the county development will pay for the use of the water. Teague skirts stating a position on the intake other than to state that as far as she can tell the Town has "followed the proper channels" and that by the time she is elected, the issue will have been addressed. (Perhaps Teague will rethink her position now that she can read what really happened in that closed session and now that she knows all "proper channels" have not been followed.)

Teague's assertion that she will try to find a way to limit the number of parking requirement deductions Planning and Inspections can allow for a development instead of simply requiring that there be no deductions from ordinance established minimums is of concern to me because I fear she is more motivated by compromise than getting it right, and I assume the ordinance minimums were established for good reason. And like Mizelle, Teague appears to want to avoid having to stake out a clear position on the water intake. Unlike Mizelle, Teague remains under the mistaken impression that the Town's 500,000 gallons per day of water will have to comply with Town regulations.

Regardless, Teague is running unopposed for Pena's unexpired 2-year term, so her election is a given.