Voters took to the polls last Tuesday and decided on new leadership for various municipal boards in Jackson County. Current Sylva Town Board member Christina Matheson was elected as Sylva's new mayor after defeating newcomer Jeremy Edmonds with 162 votes to Edmonds' 36.
“I am extremely excited, honored and humbled,” Matheson said.
After learning that outgoing Mayor Maurice Moody was not seeking re-election, Matheson felt compelled to step up. “I have served on the Sylva Town Council for four years and have learned much about municipal government,” said Matheson. “When Mayor Moody decided not to run for another term as mayor, I felt it was the right time for me to 'throw my hat into the ring. I loved Sylva and was committed to all that it represents. I felt I could be effective in the position of mayor and be a positive catalyst for Sylva’s growth and prosperity.”
As a native of Jackson County, Matheson was born in 1959 to Marcellus and Jane Poteet Buchanan. After graduating from Sylva- Webster High School and Western Carolina University, Matheson continued her education attending Campbell University School of Law. Upon graduation from Campbell University and after passing the North Carolina Bar, she moved back to Sylva. “I worked in private law practice for three years and in the District Attorney’s Office for nine,” said Matheson. “I left the District Attorney’s office to raise my family and operate a gift shop. I am married to David Matheson, have two natural children and three step-children. I have been blessed with five beautiful grandchildren.”
Matheson plans to hone in her focus as mayor on various issues that she believes continue to impact municipalities across the state and stands as Sylva's greatest challenges.
“There are many issues that continue to impact municipalities,” said Matheson of what she believes to be her greatest challenge in moving Sylva forward. “Those same issues exist in our community. Those things are, establishing a budget that sees a continuation of quality services but limits taxes imposed on those we serve, encouraging economic development in a productive but controlled way, nurturing relationships between entities that interact with Sylva on a regular basis and investigating the opportunities that may exist for grant acquisition.
During her tenure as mayor, Matheson identifies developing a sustainable and strong economic development outlook for Sylva as being her most important task. “I would like to see a viable economic development plan in place for Sylva with joint participation from the many entities and organizations with which we interact,” she said. “Furthermore, I would like to see the implementation of that plan under way.”
In addition to fostering a progressive economic environment for the town, Matheson wants to continue working to build the relationships and success within town government. “I am honored to work with the members of our town council. Furthermore, I cannot say enough about the employees who dedicate their time and efforts to the Town of Sylva,” said Matheson. “All of these people go above and beyond their jobs to make Sylva a wonderful place in which to live. Lastly, I would encourage any interested citizen to be involved in local government. Be educated about the issues that impact your community. Come to meetings and participate in discussions. If given the opportunity, take time to say thank you to our police officers, our maintenance workers and our staff at town hall.”
In addition to electing a new mayor, two vacant town council seats were filled as well. Incumbent Barbara Hamilton received just over 37 percent of the votes with 134 cast in her favor, and newcomer Mary Gelbaugh narrowly beat out incumbent Danny Allen after Gelbaugh received 115 votes to Allen's 110.
Because Matheson was a current board member, the new boardelect will now have to decide on a replacement to fill her seat, which could mean that despite being the third highest vote-getter, Allen could return to the board to fill Matheson's seat.
Jackson municipalities election results
Chris Matheson 162
Jeremy Edmonds 36
Barbara Hamilton 134
Mary Kelley Gelbaugh 115
Danny Allen 110
Nick Breedlove was elected to mayor after receiving
58 of 67 write-in votes
Jean Davenport 0 (withdrew from the race)
Tracy Rodes 53
Danell Moses 52
Allan Grant 51
Janice Blanton 42
Billie (BJ) Monteith Bryson 37
Nick Breedlove 0 (withdrew from town race to run for mayor)
Mike Fitzgerald 19
Tim Parris 23
David Jones 22
David Gates 21
Beauford Riddle 20
Jimmy Cabe 16
Forest Hills Mayor
Kolleen Begley 30
Forest Hills Board
Carl Hooper 27
Clark Corwin 26
Ron Mau 25 (unexpired term)