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County Commission race left winners and losers

Michael Edney and Tim Griffin share a laugh during a Chamber of Commerce forum on April 23. Michael Edney and Tim Griffin share a laugh during a Chamber of Commerce forum on April 23.


Power of incumbency
Bill O'Connor, a former Tea Party leader who was appointed to the Board of Commissioners in 2011 and 2012, lost to Grady Hawkins in the 2012.
O'Connor is still an observer of local politics. Never one to second-guess his own powers of analysis, O'Connor said the election came out "exactly like I thought it was going to."
"I had lunch with Mike Edney," he said. "I told him Lapsley would get through and all the other incumbents would win."
Every four years, he said, incumbents harvest the votes from constituent groups they have helped.
"If they for instance bow to wishes of the school system they get their support," he said. "If they don't they don't. The power of incumbency is so great because the only people who actually vote are those who have some sort of interest in the outcome. It's a shame that that's true."
The exception was Bill Lapsley's defeat of Larry Young, who was seeking a fourth term.
"Lapsley is so plugged in to everything from Asheville and Mission to the local construction scene there's no way he was going to lose," said O'Connor, adding that he applauds Lapsley's presence on the board because of his business experience.
"If in fact more representatives of the private-public establishment would run for office they'd win," he said. "I don't know if it would be better or worse but it certainly will be different. We'll see what sorts of things he proposes."
In his two years as commissioner, O'Connor tirelessly questioned public spending at every level, from schools to social services to regional transportation planning.
"Lapsley is definitely an establishment player," he said. "He will support all those things to whatever degree is possible. I don't think there will be any questions asked of spending public money anymore. I hope Hawkins wakes up. That was the problem with Young too. Young was a daytime consservative and a nighttime spender. Sometimes he would vote against the budget but he would vote for every expenditure so he could say to each group 'I supported your request.'"