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Elections are fair and done right, new director says

Elections Board member Linda Rebuck and elections office staffers Vicky Orr, Aaron Troutman and Deb Rogers pose with Summer Heatherly, who was sworn in as elections director on Aug. 8. Elections Board member Linda Rebuck and elections office staffers Vicky Orr, Aaron Troutman and Deb Rogers pose with Summer Heatherly, who was sworn in as elections director on Aug. 8.

Summer Heatherly, Henderson County’s new Board of Elections director, knows about all the noise surrounding elections ever since voters ousted President Trump in 2020.

“I can speak for Henderson County — that we’re fair and that we do things right here,” she said. “We do things by the law and what we’re supposed to do.”
The state Board of Elections appointed Heatherly as director after the Henderson County Board of Elections nominated her. She was sworn in on Aug. 8.
The local five-member board is made up of Democrats Clay Edelman and Sharon Pearson and Republicans Debbie Dante (secretary) and Linda Rebuck. William “Bill” Cutler, an incumbent, is expected to be reappointed by the state Board of Elections. Under state law, county boards of elections are majority Democrat based on the political affiliation of the current governor. Gov. Roy Cooper appointed Edelman as chair after the former chair, Charlie Medd, resigned for health reasons.
Among the changes Henderson County voters will see in the March 5 primary are voter ID, potential partisan primaries for School Board seats and potential nonpartisan primaries for city council and mayoral seats. The state Legislature moved municipal elections in the county from odd to even years, meaning mayors and town council members will be on the ballot below national and state elections. None of the municipalities in the county supported the change. The bill that the General Assembly failed to move city primaries to the March 5 primary election date for president, governor, legislators and other offices.
“We are currently working with our legislator, Sen. Tim Moffitt, to get their primary changed to March because right now Flat Rock, Hendersonville and Fletcher’s primary is in October of next year, and that will just be really hard to have an October primary before the general in November. We’ve been talking to Flat Rock, Fletcher and Hendersonville city, so we’ve got it in the works.”
Assuming the Legislature makes the change, all candidates will register for office Dec. 1-15.

Voter ID takes effect

The Board of Elections at 75 East Central St. has a voter ID station that photographs the voter and issues a valid ID for elections.
“We have our voter ID machine here ready to go if anybody needs voter ID,” Heatherly said. “They can just call us and they can come in here we can take a picture of them.” Voters need only give the last four numbers of their Social Security card and date of birth in order for elections workers to look up their record. As of last Tuesday, only two county residents had come in to get a voter ID.
Besides a driver’s license, the state elections board has approved seven other forms of IDs that are valid as voter IDs as long as they’re current plus three more — military, tribal or state-issued public assistance IDs — “regardless of whether the ID contains an expiration or issuance date.”
“I think a lot of people think that when you have voter ID that’s the only thing you can use in order to vote. But it’s not,” Heatherly said. “You can have your driver’s license. It doesn’t even have to be a North Carolina driver’s license. It can be any state as long as it’s not expired, because we have people who live in different states that have homes here for six months and one day and yet they have a driver’s license from a different state.”

A Powell from Poweltown

Born a Powell, Heatherly was raised in a rural community called Powelltown near Rosman. She graduated from Anchor Academy, a Christian school in Pisgah Forest, and was employed by Carolina Mountain Credit Union before working as a stay-at-home mom. She had been working at the local board during elections season since 2010 before elections director Karen Hebb brought her on fulltime in 2019. Like Hebb, Heatherly is registered as unaffiliated. She and her husband, sheriff’s office Sgt. Chris Heatherly, live in Zirconia.
“The main thing that I want to do is I just want to get us out in the community and be more involved in the community so they can see what we do hear,” she said. “A lot of times people think we work one day out of the year.”

Seats up in 2024

School Board seats up for election next year are currently held by chair Blair Craven, Kathy Revis, Robert Bridges and Stacey Caskey.
City seats up for election in 2024 and current occupants:
• Hendersonville: Jennifer Hensley, Lyndsey Simpson.
• Flat Rock: Nick Weedman (mayor), Tom Carpenter (district 1), Anne Coletta (district 2), David Dethero (district 3).
• Fletcher: Keith Reid (district 2), Bob Davy (district 3).
• Laurel Park: Carey O’Cain (mayor), George Banta, Kristin Dunn.
• Mills River: Jeff Young, Randy Austin.
• Saluda: Stan Walker, Melanie Talbot.