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Hot race in Flat Rock draws heavy turnout

FLAT ROCK — The Village Council election is drawing the heavy turnout that one might expect in the most hotly contested race in Flat Rock's history.

By the time early voting closed on Friday, 874 voters had cast ballots in the Flat Rock Village Council race for three seats. Early voting exceeded the total votes cast four years ago, when 767 Flat Rock residents turned out for the mayoral race, the only contested seat that year. The turnout continued today, with 570 Election Day voters by 2 p.m., for a total so far of 1,444, nearly double the 2015 total with five hours of voting to go. Polls close at 7:30 p.m.

Vying for control of the council are a slate of candidates aligned with the Cultural Landscape Group, which opposes the Highland Lake Road widening, and three candidates who agree that the roadwork should go forward.Vice Mayor Nick Weedman is running unopposed for mayor. Mayor Bob Staton is retiring. Weedman, who cast the only no vote when the council endorsed the Highland Lake Road project in a 6-1 vote last year, is joined by former council member Anne Coletta, Tom Carpenter and David Dethero in a pledge to withdraw support for the NCDOT project. They face incumbent Ginger Brown and newcomers Barbara Platz and Hilton Swing.

This year's one-stop vote total for Flat Rock was also much greater than Hendersonville's pre-Election Day turnout of 468 voters. Fletcher had just 17 early voters and Mills River had 64. Saluda, with only a small fraction of the town population in Henderson County, had four voters. Laurel Park, which had no contested seats, had nine.

In Flat Rock, candidates raised an unprecedented amount of money, bought newspaper and radio advertising, filled mailboxes with campaign fliers and peppered village roadways with yard signs.