US Smoky Mountains Election Fever

A cabin in the picturesque Smoky Mountains, North Carolina

KIN’s senior reporter Jeremy Smith is visiting the USA during the 2018 mid-term elections. Here’s his report on the lead-up from the heart of the Smoky Mountains.

Trump is on the tv news, not the ballot paper

His name may be over the news but the name of Donald Trump does not appear on any election papers.

That’s because these are the mid-term elections for the US Congress and hundreds of other local offices

In the North Carolina town of Waynesville, in the heart of the Smoky Mountains there’s only one election and one name which might interest any one else outside the state.
Mark Meadows is trying for another two-year term in the US house of representatives. Meadows is Republican-staunch, one of the most prominent members of the Tea-party, the group which will not cooperate with Democrats in any way.  

And for Meadows to lose would be a vote-quake of seismic proportions.
That’s not just because the mountain dwellers of western North Carolina are all Republicans.

Gerrymandering by the Republicans

The Republicans who run the state have gerrymandered the electoral district to divide up its main city,Asheville, metro population 240-thousand. Asheville votes blue: that’s Democrat.

For local man Josh Parris,41,  a mountain resident virtually all his life,  the voting interest is also in who will represent him in the North Carolina House of Representatives.
The talk is that incumbent Republican Mike Clampitt might lose to the Democrat Joe Sam Queen.

When the Republican telephone pollers caught up with Parris he told them he sometimes voted for Republicans. But in 2018 his dislike of Trump over-rode anything they might say.

On Saturday the sun was shining and the booths were busy as people came in to record special votes, which finished at midday.
Unlike New Zealand North Carolina does not allow party scrutineers inside the voting station. But outside candidates were standing with their placards. These included  candidates for Haywood County- three out of five commissioners to oversee the running of the 60,000 residents. Compare that with the ten needed for Kapiti Coast DC.

Even the Judges are elected in the US

You can also vote for the tax-collector  and for a number of local judges: local lawyer Mark Melrose is putting himself forward as a judge in  the county superior court, roughly equivalent to the High Court in NZ.

One of the rituals of American life happens every two years: the first Tuesday of November sees local and national elections.

Another US ritual

But another ritual of American life happens on Friday nights right through October into November- Friday night high school football.

The news for Waynesville was not good; local Tuscola High (Go Mountaineers) after a good season were wiped out, scoreless against Asheville neighbours Erwin High (Go Warriors.)

And more soon from one of the American heartlands.



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