Danae Aicher is running for House District 117.

Henderson County Politics

Two prominent African American residents of Henderson County have announced their candidacies in this fall’s elections for state and local offices.

Danae Aicher is running for House District 117.

NC General Assembly

In Hendersonville, Democrat Danae Aicher has announced her bid for the House District 117 seat currently held by Republican Chuck McGrady, who is retiring after 10 years. Aicher is a former journalist who works as director of equity at Rainbow Community School in Asheville, and she plans to focus her campaign on access to affordable healthcare, education, and environmental issues.

A particular focus of her campaign will be to bring Medicaid expansion to North Carolina. The state is one of only 17 that, under Republican leadership, have refused to expand the national health insurance program to those most in need. As a result, North Carolina has lost out of billions of federal dollars and tens of thousands of jobs that would have been created. The state’s residents still pay federal taxes to support Medicaid, but the benefits all flow to other states that have expanded the program under the Affordable Care Act, known as “Obamacare.”

Aicher, the mother of two, lost her own mother to breast cancer at the age of 58, making her even more aware of the difficulties many people face when they cannot access or afford regular healthcare, check-ups, preventive care, and medications.

Preston Blakely is running for Fletcher Town Council.

Fletcher Town Council

Next door, Fletcher native Preston Blakely has announced his candidacy for the Fletcher Town Council. He is vying for the District 2 seat held by Hugh Clark; both Clark and Julia Price Vogel are also running in the primary election Oct. 8.

A recent graduate of Western Carolina University’s masters program in Public Affairs, Blakely earned his undergraduate degree in political science from UNC Greensboro. Long interested in politics and government service, he previously interned for NC State Senator Terry Van Duyn (now running for Lieutenant Governor) and with the City of Hendersonville.

Blakely and his brother grew up in Fletcher. Their parents, Namurah and Jonathan Blakely, are owners of Quality Janitorial service in Asheville, and he is the grandson of renowned civil rights advocate Oralene Graves Simmons.