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Rise of third party; Ashe voters reflect on possible election fallout

Originally published: Nov. 15, 2012
Last modified: Nov. 15, 2012

Jesse Campbell

More than a week following the results of Tuesday's election, Ashe County voters are reflecting on how party affiliations and loyalty aren't always an accurate representation of the politics of small town government. 

While the nation as a whole gave its support for four more years of leadership under President Barack Obama, Ashe County, like much of western North Carolina went red in how it voted in not only national elections, but also local races. 

In a sweeping display, Ashe County re-elected Gerald Price, Larry Rhodes and Gary Roark to the county's board of commissioners. As it stands now, all five county commissioners are Republicans. 

Republicans Rep. Jonathan Jordan and Sen. Dan Soucek were also given the nod to continue to serve local constituents in the North Carolina General Assembly.

U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, another staunch Republican, will continue her tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives for the Fifth District. 

But a rise in the number of unaffiliated voters in Ashe County could be an indicator of change. 

According to North Carolina Board of Elections, unaffiliated voters have increased by 10 percent since the November 2008 election, while registered Democrats and Republicans have declined. 

Dylan Lightfoot of Lansing feels political affiliation matters less at the local level. 

“A county commissioner or state representative works closer to home than a national level office holder, and is less likely to march lock step with party dogma,” said Lightfoot. “The real story is that there's still no viable third party at any level.

One party may hold a majority at any given time, but the two-party system has the whole game sewn up each and every election. 

Lightfoot went on to say, “We have two brands of government: It's Coke or Pepsi, take your pick, and we don't care if you don't like cola.”

David Jones of Piney Creek said he feels “it is like nothing has changed. It is the same ole, same ole.”

While it may be true that national issues don't always mirror those being discussed at the local level, there appears to be some similarity in terms of infrastructural planning and fiscal responsibility. 

After capturing another term on the board of commissioners, Roark said the county will be faced with keeping property taxes low while balancing the needs of the county in looking into the future as the county ponders new buildings at Government Circle and a new county middle school. 

For more information and stories, see Ashe Mountain Times.