Buncombe County Democrats held their 4-3 majority on the County Commission on Election Day and elected the first African American to the county’s highest law enforcement job, as Quentin Miller handily defeated Republican Shad Higgins and Libertarian Tracey DeBruhl.
Miller turned in an unexpectedly strong performance, winning 61.5% of the countywide vote, to 35.5% for Higgins and 3% for DeBruhl. Miller won in every Asheville precinct as well as precincts in Weaverville (where Higgins lives and works) and Black Mountain, reflecting strong support across much of the county.
Some Republicans had worried that DeBruhl would split the conservative vote, but even without him in the race, Miller would have won by a 3-2 margin.
In the two contested races for seats on the County Commission, incumbent Robert Pressley (R) held on to his West Buncombe seat with a close 51-49 win over challenger Donna Ensley, and Democrat Amanda Edwards won resoundingly on the east side of the county with 22,257 votes (55.2%) over Republican Glenda Weinert’s 17,388 (44.8%).
Pressley, who was appointed in 2015 to fill the balance of Miranda DeBruhl’s term (she resigned following several controversies), was elected in 2016 running against David King, a former Republican commissioner who had changed his party registration to Democratic. In that contest, Pressley won 23,096 votes, or 56.74%, to King’s 17,612 (43.26%).
Edwards’s 10-point margin in District 2, which includes North and East Asheville, Black Mountain, and Fairview, was noticeably stronger than that of retiring Commissioner Ellen Frost, who narrowly won a second term in 2014 with 50.87% to 49.13% for Republican Christina Merrill. That year only 30,213 votes were cast, compared to this year’s total vote count of 39,645, nearly a third larger than four years ago and reflecting the heightened interest during a “wave” election.
Incumbent Commissioner Al Whitesides ran unopposed for a full four-year term in District 1. He was appointed in 2017 to fill the seat vacated by Brownie Newman, who had been elected Commission Chairman in the 2016 race.