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Cooper appoints new county Elections Board chair

Charlie Medd is the Elections Board chairman. Charlie Medd is the Elections Board chairman.

Charles “Charlie” Medd, a retired Henderson County schoolteacher who served in the U.S. Navy and Reserves for 40 years, has been appointed chair of the Henderson County Board of Elections.

Medd, 77, taught for two years at Immaculata Catholic School, 21 at Dana Elementary School and nine at Hendersonville Middle School, where he taught social studies and math.
Born in Miami 1941 to Sophie and Charles Baker Medd, young Charlie didn’t stay in South Florida for long.
“My mother didn’t like the heat,” he said. She was from Winnipeg, Canada, and his father, a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Coast Guard, was born in the port city of Southampton, England. “She asked, ‘Where do you go to get out of this heat?’” The Blue Ridge Mountains, they told her.
She packed up little Charlie and his two older sister and set out, slowed by gas rationing and worn rubber tires. “She’d only do about 35 miles an hour,” he said. “It took her two full days to get here. We stopped overnight in Jacksonville, I understand.”
Sophie had a knack for entrepreneurship. She raised one of the largest flocks of laying hens and broilers in North Carolina and also started an RV park, which Medd still runs, just east of Sugarloaf Elementary School.
After graduating from the Blue Ridge School for Boys, which was where the Blue Ridge Mall now stands.
“We had to go to night study hall from 7 to 9, two hours,” Medd told historian Jennie Jones Giles for an article on the school in Giles’s Henderson Heritage website. “We couldn’t talk. We had to study and stay busy. That’s where I learned how to study and become a better student.”
His scholastic habits didn’t immediately stick.
Medd said he attended the University of Georgia until the university invited him not to. His parents gave him a choice of coming home and paying rent, moving out and getting a job or joining the service. He enlisted in the Navy, following his father’s sea-based career, and served on active duty until 1964.
After he got out, he joined the Reserves and served until he reached the mandatory retirement age of 60 in 2001. “I retired on Sept. 9, two days before Sept. 11,” he said. “I called them up and said, ‘Would you let me come back? I haven’t forgotten anything in 48 hours.’ They asked me how old I was and they said, ‘Thanks for calling.’”
When he came home from the Navy, he enrolled in the old Asheville Biltmore College, which was about to become UNC Asheville. On campus he met his future wife, Suzanne, a Canton native who was in UNCA’s first graduating class. While he was teaching in Henderson County, Medd went on to earn a master’s degree from Western Carolina University.
He and Suzanne have two daughters, Heather and Catherine, and three grandchildren with another on the way. The baby’s due around November, when the grandfather will be busy overseeing an election for the first time.
The first decision he makes could also be the most important decision of his tenure. The Elections Board is interviewing finalists for the job as elections director, replacing the widely respected and assiduously non-partisan Beverly Cunningham. The goal is “to find a director like Beverly Cunningham,” he said. “As far as I know, there’s never been an ounce of fraud or anything in her administration. I can say as a poll worker, she insisted that everybody be treated the same, equal. If there was some kind of hoo-rah, we allowed them to vote a provisional ballot and let the board decide.”
Medd heard about the chairmanship from his friend Bob Livingston, from St. James Episcopal Church. State law required Livingston to resign when his son-in-law, Carey O’Cain, filed for re-election as Laurel Park mayor.
Asked how he got the appointment, which was made by Gov. Roy Cooper, Medd said, “I applied for it.” The rest of the process was simple as far as he knows. “He signed a piece of paper.”
After a protracted court battle between Cooper and the Republican leadership in the General Assembly, all counties have a five-member Board of Elections with a 3-2 Democratic majority and a chair that Cooper appoints.