Ronda’s mayor and commissioners would be elected in even-numbered years rather than odd-numbered years as they are now under a bill approved by the Senate and now in the House.
Senate Bill 138, which makes this change, was approved by the Senate on May 23 and is now in the House Committee on Elections and Ethics Law. The bill is expected to soon go to the full House for a vote, where passage is also likely.
Senate Bill 138 was initially filed to change town board elections in the Buncombe County towns of Black Mountain and Biltmore Forest to even numbered years.
Wilkes Board of Election Director Kim Caudill said Ronda was added to this request through the efforts of Republican Sen. Deanna Ballard of Blowing Rock, whose district includes all of Wilkes.
Senate Bill 138 calls for holding the next Ronda election in 2020, instead of this fall. That means Ronda Mayor Victor Varela and commissioners Sandra Simmons and Manuel Wood would be up for re-election a year later than now scheduled.
On Feb. 13, 2018, the Ronda town board unanimously approved a resolution asking the legislature to amend Ronda’s town charter to hold municipal elections on even-numbered years, “thereby avoiding Wilkes Board of Elections fees.”
Caudill said Ronda’s 2017 municipal election cost the town $2,200. She said it cost Wilkesboro $5,300 and cost North Wilkesboro $3,300. Wilkesboro’s election was more expensive due to an extra voting site needed for parts of the Millers Creek area annexed in recent years.
There is no charge in even-numbered years because elections are already held then for many state and federal offices. There also is a heavier voter turnout in elections in even-numbered years.
Critics of holding town elections on even-numbers years say the downside side is that municipal candidates end up near the bottom of ballots.
Ronda Mayor Victor Varela said he asked Sen. Deanna Ballard of Blowing Rock and Rep. Sarah Stevens of Mount Airy, who represent the Senate and House districts respectively that include Ronda, to seek legislation changing Ronda’s elections to even-numbered years.