Five commissioner candidates file

The race for two seats on the Catawba County Board of Commissioners looks to be interesting this fall, as five candidates have filed for office.

Republican incumbents Barbara Beatty and Dan Hunsucker will face three new challengers this election season from both the Republican and Democratic parties.

Republican challengers Kevin A. Spiva, of Maiden, and Steve W. Graves, of Hickory, both look to gain a seat on the board and are running for the first time. Spiva, a former Maiden town councilman, works at Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet in Newton. Mountain View resident Steve Graves is a 30-year law enforcement veteran.

Challenger Steve O. Hunt is the only Democrat in the race. Hunt, who lives in Hickory, is the director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs at Catawba Valley Community College.

Catawba County register of deeds Donna Hicks Spencer filed for re-election to the post, and she will be unopposed on the ballot.

Now that filing is over, elections officials will work to put together ballots for early voting, which begins April 19 and ends May 5.

Due to budget cuts, the Catawba County Main Library in Newton is the only one-stop early voting site for the 2012 election, said Larry Brewer, director of the Catawba County Board of Elections.

“Due to funding, we are not able to open another (location) in Hickory like years past,” Brewer said.

Early voting will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday as well as Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“For people who live in the Hickory area, I think the voting people are going to miss it, because now they are going to have to drive to Newton,” Brewer said. “This may cause some lines at the library, but we ask people to be patient. By all means, vote. It may take more time, but still have the patience and cast your ballot.”

It’s unclear what sites will be open for Election Day in November, as the state’s 2012-13 Fiscal Year budget will not be finalized until summer.

Other local races
Local N.C. House and Senate races are also competitive this year.

Three candidates have filed to represent the 42nd district seat in the N.C. Senate, including two Democrats who will challenge Republican incumbent Austin Allran. Those challengers are Joseph (Jody) Inglefield, of Hickory, and Conover resident Bivins Hollar.

After would-be incumbent Mark Hilton announced he would not run for re-election earlier this winter, the race for the 96th district of the N.C. House includes two newcomers. Democrat Cliff Moone, of Hickory, will challenge Republican Andy Wells, also of Hickory.

In the 89th district of the N.C. House, incumbent Republican Mitchell Setzer was the only candidate to file.