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Hendersonville incumbents win; Staton routs challenger

Hendersonville City Council incumbents Steve Caraker and Ron Stephens won re-election and Flat Rock Mayor Bob Staton routed challenger Bob Spitzen in the only contested races Tuesday as voters trickled to the polls across Henderson County on Tuesday.

In the only contested races among five towns holding elections, Stephens and Caraker won new terms over challenger Rebecca Schwartz. With all precincts reporting, Caraker won 485 votes (40 percent) followed by Stephens with 428 (35 percent) and Schwartz with 308 (25 percent). The three candidates were competing for two seats.

Staton won 95 percent of the vote in the Flat Rock mayoral race, vanquishing Spitzen 726 to 38 votes.

A Hendersonville native and graduate of Hendersonville High School and UNC at Chapel Hill, Staton, a retired attorney, told voters that his priorities during a third term would be continued development of the Park at Flat Rock "in a fiscally responsible way," expansion of greenways, sidewalks and trails in cooperation with Henderson County, Laurel Park and Hendersonville and continued cooperation with other local governments to advance quality of life, recreation, tourism and economic development.

Spitzen, who had been in a long-running dispute with the village that resulted in a $60,000 fine for a minor zoning violation, ran on a platform that called for moving Village Council meetings from 9:30 in the morning to early evening, paying council members $1,000 a month, holding public forums, adding a swimming pool to the Park at Flat Rock, enforcing a noise ordinance "with our own police officer and a backup," and providing better access to public records.

In other races:

  • In Flat Rock, incumbent Nick Weedman, the vice mayor, won re-election in District 1, park activist Ginger Brown won in District 2, where there was no incumbent because of a redistricting, and summer camp owner John Dockendorf was elected to the District 3 seat held by Jimmy Chandler, who retired. The election also meant the departure of Don Farr, who chose not to run when the redrawn lines put him in the same district as Weedman.
  • In Fletcher, unopposed incumbents Hugh Clark and Bob Davy won re-election.
  • In Laurel Park, voters returned Mayor Carey O’Cain to office, and elected George W. Banta, who was appointed to the seat vacated by Rich Cooke; and re-elected Robert O. “Bob” Vickery.
  • Mills River voters re-elected Roger Snyder and Wayne Carland, both of whom have served on the Mills River Council since the town’s founding in 2003.