The Transylvania Times -

By Eric Crews
Staff Writer 

Chappell, Hawkins, Lemel Get County Vote

 

Last updated 11/7/2012 at 12:48pm

Page Lemel

Political newcomer Page Lemel picked up the largest share of the vote Tuesday in the race to decide who would take the three seats up for grabs on the Transylvania County Board of Commissioners .

Lemel received 9,714 votes (20.97 percent), while fellow Republican candidates and incumbent Commissioners Jason Chappell and Mike Hawkins picked up 8,445 (18.23) and 9,194 votes (19.85), respectively, taking the other two seats.

Democratic candidate Jackie Whitmire received 7,044 votes (15.21), while Marty Griffin received 6,054 votes (13.07) and Tim Petit received 5,864 votes (12.66).

When reached the morning after the election, Lemel said she was excited by the result.

“It was, honestly, a really touching honor,” Lemel said of the election. “Being the top vote-getter was really something special. I’m really just so impressed by the, obviously, very broad range of support I drew across the community, and I am very grateful for that.”

Lemel believes she garnered the largest percentage of the vote because of her familiarity among county residents.

“It helps that I grew up here in the community,” she said. “Being as involved in the community as I’ve been since moving back, the organizations I’ve been involved with and the things I’ve done to be supportive of community endeavors is very important. I think I reach across a lot of very different interests.”

Lemel, who will be the first woman to serve on the board since Marla Cilley’s term from 2000 to 2004, said she is most excited about bringing her own unique perspective to the board.

“Knowing that I have that broad range of support will allow me to bring some new energy to the board,” she said.

Looking ahead to the next four years, Lemel said she is optimistic the commissioners’ recent decision to retain J. Goldsmith & Co. for economic consulting will provide a much-needed boost to the county’s economy.

“This is the first step in revitalizing the county’s economy,” she said.

Lemel said Jeannette Goldsmith, owner of J. Goldsmith & Co., has roots in the community that make her a good fit. Goldsmith attended Camp Keystone when she was young. Lemel is the camp’s director.

“I’m just really excited to know that we’ve got someone who has a history here in the county and who is going to be working with us in a very professional way to take us forward,” Lemel said.

Lemel said she is also looking forward to “building collaborative efforts with the town of Rosman and the city of Brevard.”

She also wants the commissioners to get a fresh start in working with the school board on issues.

“This is not about personalities,” she said. “This is about all of us working together to improve our community.”

Lemel hopes to draw on her network of friends and acquaintances to work collaboratively to move forward on the most important issues facing the county.

“We’re not that big,” she said. “We’ve got to learn to work together.”

Fiscally, Lemel said, she wants to continue to spend the county taxpayers’ money conservatively, but she believes it is important to invest in the future.

“We are responsible for spending the tax payers money,” she said. “But we’ve got to be able to look more forward than 10 or 12 months at a time. We’ve got to look at the big picture and figure out what it is going to take to get us moving in the direction we want to go.”

Lemel said she would not rule out tapping into the county’s reserve fund to invest in the county’s economic recovery.

“In the past, we’ve been very micro-focused on a very short time frame,” she said. “I think what we need to do is to look longer-range and figure out a deliberate effort to take us to our end goals.”

When reached Wednesday morning, Hawkins said the election result showed that the people want the county to move forward in a “positive way.”

Hawkins said he is looking forward to working on important issues, such as infrastructure,

Hawkins said he is also looking forward to working with Lemel, along with the three other returning commissioners.

“I think we’ve got five good people on the board who are really interested in moving the community and the county forward, and I think you are going to see that over the next four years,” he said. “I’m really excited about it. It’s an honor to be re-elected because I do think all six candidates who were running would have all been a good commissioner.”

Hawkins said he is excited to begin working with Lemel for a variety of reasons, including her business background, intellect and drive.

“The thing that I like most about Page, though, is that she really has a talent for thinking strategically,” he said. “She’s going to be the person who will be able to take the day-to-day stuff that we deal with and put it in a broader context to determine how it can help us get where we want to go.”

Lemel will replace Kelvin Phillips on Dec. 3 when the three commissioners will be sworn in for the new term.

At that meeting, all five commissioners will elect the chairman and vice chairman for the next two years.

Chappell also said he is excited about taking on the many challenges facing the county in the coming years.

“We have many challenges ahead,” he said. “But I look forward to being (the public’s) representative as we face these challenges.

Mike Hawkins

“I think the voters picked the individuals who would do the best job for our county in this election. I thank them for their support and I look forward to going forward.”

Voter turnout in Transylvania County Tuesday was roughly 69 percent.

Chappell said the high voter turnout in Transylvania County is a testament to how much citizens care about the issues affecting the county. Chappell congratulated Lemel and Hawkins, saying he looks forward to working with them and the rest of the board.

 
 

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