Candidates file for Black Mountain seats


Residents of Black Mountain will go to the polls Nov. 3 to select three aldermen among the four candidates who filed.

Incumbents Maggie Tuttle and vice mayor Don Collins, both elected in 2011, are hoping to hold onto their seats. Larry Harris, selected by the board to fill the seat vacated when Michael Sobol became mayor in 2013, will also seek to keep his spot. Rounding out the selections is Rachel Allen, who weeks ago completed her term as chair on the Black Mountain Zoning Board of Adjustment.

“I enjoyed serving on the board of adjustment and really want to continue to serve my community,” Allen said.

Currently a teacher for exceptional children at W.D. Williams Elementary, Allen began her North Carolina teaching career at Black Mountain Primary. A 21-year resident of the town, she plans to spend the coming months researching the primary issues facing the town and how to best address them.

“My goal right now is to learn all I can,” she said. “I want to be an active participant in helping steer the town in its continued growth.”

Collins is finishing his first term on the board, after receiving more votes than any other candidate in 2011, when he promised to work toward paying down the town’s debt, increasing its fund balance and bringing civility to the board.

“I think the last four years have been extremely smooth,” he said “We’ve reduced the number of debts in the town from 14 to five and the total amount of debt by $1,872,000, which is 36 percent.”

A nearly $1 million increase in the town’s fund balance since he and Tuttle were elected, as well as the board’s tendency to communicate openly and respectfully, indicate that he has delivered on his pledge, he said.

Collins and Tuttle were the only candidates to receive more than 1,000 votes when they were elected to the board.

“The cohesiveness of this board has been special,” Tuttle said. “If things had not run the way they have on this board for the past four years, I wouldn’t be running again.”

Tuttle is committed to seeing through the completion of infrastructure projects, like sidewalk expansion, she said. She would also like to see the board continue restoring some of the town’s aging assets, like Carver Community Center.

“We need to maintain what we have,” Tuttle said. “A lot of our facilities are older, and it’s time to spend some money on refurbishing.”

Harris was elected alderman in 1987, then left local politics to spend more time with his family. He spent several years on government and nongovernment boards when he ran again in 2011, one of many candidates.

Harris finished out of the running, coming in behind Collins, Tuttle and Sobol. He set his sites on the mayoral race in 2013, when he was edged by Sobol.

“The aldermen sitting at the time appointed me to complete the term left vacant by the mayor,” Harris said. “I think that was a reflection of our getting to know each other over two election cycles. I don’t think any of us (aldermen) are surprised we’ve been able to work together so well.”

Like Collins, Harris said an indication of success has been the board’s ability to pay down debt while providing needed capital improvements. He said being “careful with the budget” is necessary for the growth of the town.

Running in Montreat

Our story on who has filed for office in Montreat is on Page 3A.