Early, one-stop voting in this year’s municipal elections in Wilkes County ended at 3 p.m. Saturday, with 223 people casting ballots in North Wilkesboro and 89 people in Wilkesboro for a total of 312.

Four years ago, 139 early, one-stop ballots were cast in North Wilkesboro and 128 in Wilkesboro for a total of 267.

A total of 460 people voted in North Wilkesboro and 430 in Wilkesboro in 2017, with a nearly 21% turnout in both towns. Offices on the ballots in 2017 were the same as this year.

Election Day in this year’s municipal races is Tuesday, with polls open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Polling sites are:

• Wilkesboro Civic Center on School Street for voters in Wilkesboro I and III precincts;

• West Wilkes Middle School for voters in parts of the Cricket, Reddies River and Millers Creek precincts in the Wilkesboro town limits. State law requires a separate polling place for voters in a satellite (non-contiguous) portion of a town;

• North Wilkesboro Elks Lodge at 803 Cherry Street, North Wilkesboro, for voters in North Wilkesboro and portions of the Cricket, Fairplains and Wilkesboro II precincts in the North Wilkesboro town limits.

This year, there are four candidates for North Wilkesboro mayor, three for two North Wilkesboro commissioner seats and three for two Wilkesboro Town Council seats. In 2017, there were two North Wilkesboro mayoral candidates, six for two North Wilkesboro commissioner seats and three for two Wilkesboro Town Council seats.

North Wilkesboro mayoral candidates this year are William Hamby, Michael Cooper, Marc R. Hauser and incumbent Robert L. Johnson. Johnson is seeking his fourth four-year term.

Candidates for the two North Wilkesboro commissioner seats are Otis W. Church, Joseph A. Johnston and incumbent Angela J. Day, seeking her second four-year term. Johnston was a North Wilkesboro commissioner for six years before not seeking reelection in 2019.

Jonathan Swift filed for North Wilkesboro commissioner and his name is on the ballot, but Swift later announced his withdrawal as a candidate. North Wilkesboro Commissioner Debbie Ferguson is up for reelection this year but didn’t file.

Candidates for the two town council seats are Russell F. Ferree, Lee W. Taylor and Nellie Hubbard Archibald.

Ferree and Archibald are incumbents, with Ferree seeking his third consecutive term and Archibald seeking her second consecutive term. Archibald was first elected to the Wilkesboro council in 2009, but didn’t seek reelection when that term ended.

Candidates’ names in this article are written in the same way and same order as they appear on ballots. All municipal elections in Wilkes are non-partisan and all of terms are for four years.

The Wilkes Board of Elections received an additional campaign spending report Friday, which was an “independent expenditure” report from Dr. Ronald E. “Ron” Cohn of Moravian Falls.

Under state campaign finance law, expenditures for a candidate without the candidate’s prior knowledge are called independent expenditures. All campaign expenditures of this sort exceeding $100 must be reported to the elections board by the person who made them.

Cohn’s report said he contributed $1,241.20 for Lee Taylor’s candidacy for one of two seats on the Wilkesboro Town Council on Oct. 9, 2021. A copy of an envelope with Cohn’s two-page report form shows it was mailed to the Wilkes Board of Elections on Oct. 26.

Cohn stated in an interview on Oct. 25 that he purchased several “Vote for Lee W. Taylor” banners and put them up on properties he owns in and near Wilkesboro without Taylor’s prior knowledge.

Wilkesboro Town Council candidate Russell F. Ferree said in an Oct. 23 interview that he filed a complaint with the State Board of Elections over three weeks earlier concerning the “Vote for Lee W. Taylor” banners. Ferree said his complaint was that the banners lacked information stating who funded them. He said they were large enough (about 7 feet long, 3 feet tall) to require this under state law.

By Oct. 25, the “Vote for Lee W. Taylor” banners had additional language stating “Paid for by Ron Cohn” and “Not authorized by candidate.” Cohn said Oct. 25 that he added this language on Oct. 22.

State Board of Elections spokesman Patrick Gannon said that under state law, campaign finance investigations are confidential and state board officials can’t confirm or deny the existence of a complaint.

Under state law, the sponsor of an advertisement in print media, radio, or television that is a reportable contribution, expenditure, independent expenditure or electioneering communication must include a statement identifying the sponsor of the ad. The law defines print media as “billboards, cards, newspapers, newspaper inserts, magazines, mass mailings, pamphlets, fliers, periodicals and outdoor advertising facilities.”

Gannon said the definition of a billboard under this law currently varies based on the type of sign, but the state board generally has provided guidance requiring that signs larger than 3-by-5 feet have language stating who funded them.

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