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Filing opens for county, state offices

Elections Director Karen Hebb helps School Board member Michael Absher file for re-election on Monday.

Michael Absher filled out forms to run for the Henderson County School Board on Monday and declared that if he wins a second term it will be his last.

"I ran the first time saying I believe in term limits," he said, adding that he defines that as two terms.

At noon Monday Absher became the first candidate in Henderson County to file for office for the 2020 elections. Candidates will file at the Henderson County Board of Elections for four School Board seats, two seats on the Board of Commissioners, Henderson County clerk of court, judicial seats, the 113th and 117th state House seats and the 48th state Senate seat.

Clerk of Court Tyler Ray, appointed to the office in May after incumbent clerk Kim Gasperson Justice was appointed to a District Court judgeship, must run for a two-year term. The seat is up again in 2022, along with the county constitutional offices of Sheriff and Register of Deeds.

Absher said he is seeking a second term "because I feel like I bring a different perspective to the board."

Absher has survived controversial episodes several times during his term on the board. An East Henderson High School teacher swore out a warrant against him after a confrontation at the school. The charge was dropped. The Buncombe County school system removed him as a bus driver when it said he made an unsafe movement with schoolchildren on board. Absher ignored the School Board's vote calling on him to resign. And a judge acquitted him of charges made by three juveniles at his Only Hope WNC group home that he had bought them alcohol in December 2017.

Asked whether an opponent might use those events against him, he said: "If someone brings it up, it was all cleared up and expunged off the record."

In a second term, Absher said he hopes to see through the new construction/renovation of Hendersonville High School and major renovations of East Henderson and West Henderson high schools, Rugby and Flat Rock middle schools and Upward Elementary School.

"I'll continue to work to provide the best education for all students of Henderson County no matter what their background is," he said.

Also filing before 1 p.m. Monday were Brian Caskey, a Democrat running for the state Senate; and District Court Judge Emily Cowan. David Hill, a surveyor from Zirconia, has announced plans to run for the District 5 seat on the Henderson County Board of Commissioners. All seats except the nonpartisan School Board race will be on the ballot in the March 3 primary if more than one candidate from a party file.

Seats up for election in 2020 include:

  • School Board: Absher, Rick Wood (who announced his retirement), Mary Louise Corn, Blair Craven.
  • Board of Commissioners: Charlie Messer, District 2; Grady Hawkins, District 5. Hawkins announced his retirement.
  • Clerk of Superior Court. Tyler Ray.
  • Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor. Danny McConnell.