• 2019 Lake Lure Elections
    Election Day is Nov. 5th, 2019

    On Tuesday, Oct. 1st and Thursday, Oct. 3rd the Chamber of Hickory Nut Gorge hosted two candidates' forums to give our members and the public at large an opportunity to learn more about the local candidates seeking election or re-election. Both events were well attended and all of the candidates responded to both a set of advanced questions as well as questions posed from the audience.  Chamber board members Crystal Morrison and April Schick, and Chamber Director, Laura Doster served as facilitators.

    Thank you to Rumbling Bald Resort and the Town of Lake Lure for serving as the venues for both forums.

    About the Candidates

    The following individuals are running for Town Council: Incumbent Stephen Webber, first-time candidates, David Diorio, and Christopher Patrick Bryant. Additionally, Lake Lure resident Carol Pritchard is serving the unexpired term of the late Mayor Kevin Cooley. She is running unopposed for the next term.

    Each of the candidates was invited to answer a few questions before the forums held earlier this month. Below are the responses we received by the deadline given:

    Lake Lure Mayor, Carol Pritchett:

      1. Why are you running for office or running for re-election?

    Although Lake Lure is a small town, it is faced with many large town challenges. Our infrastructure is aging in place and requires immediate attention and solutions that are both prudent and feasible. We are all responsible for and have a vested interest in the stewardship and future of our beautiful town and lake, both for ourselves and for future generations. I feel that my leadership skills and the business experience that I have acquired over the course of my professional career enable me to make a significant contribution to Lake Lure.

      2. What are the three primary issues you plan to focus on most if elected, re-elected, and why?  

    The three primary issues which I believe to be the most pressing are all asset management issues: an aging dam and hydroelectric plant, our waste water collection and treatment process, and the continued maintenance and health of our beautiful lake. There are certainly many other challenges and important opportunities ahead of us but without a resolution to these basic infrastructure issues, we will be unable to continue to attract new businesses, visitors and permanent residents to Lake Lure.

      3. What specific proposals, new ideas, or changes would you advocate for if elected or re-elected to the council?

    I believe that we have a unique opportunity to unite our community as we all strive to improve and foster growth in Lake Lure irrespective of which end of the lake we live on. Lake Lure’s challenges affect us all and require our collective attention. We must gather together with our Lake Lure neighbors to find solutions to our problems. In addition, we must think of the future and implement prudent asset management programs and establish adequate financial reserves to guarantee the continued maintenance and well-being of Lake Lure’s infrastructure.

    Bio for Carol Pritchett: 

    My husband Joe and I moved to Lake Lure in 2011 from Houston Texas to establish a home that would be a gathering place for our two sons and their families to enjoy. Prior to that move, Texas was my home although I have traveled extensively throughout the United Stated in my professional career. I received a BS degree from LSU and an MBA from The University of Dallas. I founded Coulter Consulting in 2014  to provide operational, clinical and financial support in acute and post-acute healthcare, including strategic planning, policy development, training, and certification. I served as Senior Vice President of Operations of Encore Healthcare in Columbia, MD and as Regional Vice President of Life Care Centers of America 

    Town Commissioner Stephen Webber

    1. Why are you running for office or running for re-election?

    Simply put, I want to continue my dedicated service to the citizens of Lake Lure. I am proud of my strong ethics, integrity, and selfless service. I do not have a hidden agenda. Those who know me, know I am an open book. I tell it like it is even when the facts or the answer may not be popular.  I don’t simply go along with the opinions of others because they think I should.  I don’t always accept, at face value, the so-called facts presented to me. I research every issue, form my own opinions, and make informed decisions.  I think outside the box and look for alternative solutions to problems. Lake Lure is faced with several major infrastructure issues such as our dam, the hydro plant, the underwater sewer system, our wastewater treatment plant, and increased silt infiltration into our lake. In the last four years, I have had to make some tough decisions and many more lie ahead due to these issues. My decisions as a Commissioner will not always be popular. I know how to accomplish tasks and achieve objectives. I have experience in strategic planning and budget preparations, which has served the citizens of Lake Lure very well. I know how to set goals and milestones for achieving those goals. I am heavily vested in the issues above and the importance of them cannot be understated. The magnitude and severity of the issues facing us, coupled with my past involvement in critical meetings and discussions on those subjects, form the basis for my re-election campaign. The extremely unfortunate and untimely passing of Mayor Cooley and the upcoming departure of Commissioner Cameron leave a huge void of knowledge in our town government, especially regarding these critical areas. Now is not the time for me to leave. 

    2. What are the three primary issues you plan to focus on most if elected or re-elected and why?

    I consider the quality of life issues as most important. The issues listed above are the primary issues facing our town and they directly affect our quality of life. The dam and hydro plant go hand in hand. Last fiscal year, we received more than 1 million dollars for power generation. We cannot afford to lose that revenue source. We must reinvest the dollars necessary to keep our hydro plant functioning at peak operational levels. Obviously, without the dam, there would be no lake, nor hydro plant. The dam is our most important structure, and it does require several maintenance upgrades and repairs that will be costly. Our underwater sewer system and wastewater treatment plant have numerous problems and must be replaced. Potential solutions are still being studied and potential costs are mounting. We saw record rainfall last year. With that, we received significant silt infiltration in the lake. Dredging is an issue that is likely to never go away but that does not mean it cannot be managed. I currently believe our dredging program is the best we have ever had, yet it is very expensive to maintain, and can still be improved. The one issue that is even more important than those I have mentioned, is the money needed to fix these problems. My focus for the last four years has been on alternate streams of revenue for the town, and these issues are why. My focus will continue to be the costs to fix these problems versus the money available. I will focus on the “where and how” we obtain the necessary funds, with minimum impact to our citizens.

    3. What specific proposals, new ideas or changes would you advocate for if elected or re-elected to the council?

    I have consistently advocated for a self-sufficient lake, revenues paying expenses. We have made great progress towards this goal. We must create, enhance, and grow revenue-producing mechanisms. One example is the planned marina expansion. The additional boat slips for rent will significantly aid revenue, even while loan payments are being made.

    We must continue working towards minimizing the amount of sedimentation that flows into our lake from multiple directions. It is unacceptable when a property owner cannot use portions of our lake due to sedimentation.   We must be wise and judicious when spending tax dollars. We need to spend tax dollars in a manner that not only fixes a problem but, when and where possible, simultaneously helps to prevent that problem from reoccurring. If it is not an emergency, tax dollars spent on “bandaids” are wasted. We must focus on permanent fixes. Dredging is an annual band-aid. Wouldn’t it be great if we could actually prevent sedimentation from reaching the lake? Invest some money in a collection pond and easement upstream, that could be cleaned out and maintained from the land whenever needed. As a test case, we need to try this for one of the major infiltration points, like Grey Logs Cove, or Firefly Cove. This concept would be much cheaper than dredging every year. We will never get ahead with our current dredging concept. At best we can simply maintain, and that is only under the best of circumstances. An ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure, especially in today’s economy. Our town is headed in a good direction and we need to continue that.  

    Bio for Commissioner Webber:

    Born in Maine, my family moved to North Carolina when I was three. I grew up in West Asheville, later moved to Bent Creek, and subsequently graduated from Enka High School. I joined the Army a few months after graduation in 1969 and retired from the service in 1993 after a very rewarding 24-year career. I was then a Shoney’s manager in Savannah, GA for 13 months. In 1994, I moved to Lake Lure to assist my mother in her remaining years. With her passing in 1999, I inherited my current home. For 17 months during 1996 and 1997, I was the Chief Engineer and Executive Housekeeper for a 110-room Holiday Inn in Asheville.

    I married Nhan in 2002, a very kind, loving, wonderful lady of Vietnamese descent. I am extremely blessed to have her in my life and very proud to be married to her. We currently share our home with a senior dog (Bug) and one Indian Ring-neck parakeet named Baby.  Bug and Baby are rescue animals.

    In total, my combined leadership experience and management skills span more than 46 years.  I have proudly and selflessly served Lake Lure for 17 years on the Board of Adjustment, Lake Structure Appeals Board, and Town Council.

    My personal motto has served me well throughout the years and I restate it for you now: RESULTS - not excuses!

    David DiOrio

      1. Why are you running for office or running for re-election?

    As a retired Navy Captain, Nuclear Engineer, and a Doctor of Public Policy I believe that I can help our community navigate the difficult Town infrastructure challenges that we face. Our State-mandated infrastructure projects: Dam Renovation, Dam Bridge Replacement, Sewer Replacement, Dredging Operations, and Power Plant Renovations require extensive engineering oversight to protect our residents from overextending our modest resources. I intend to represent the town to ensure that our interests and concerns are presented during complicated infrastructure deliberations with Engineering firms and State officials. Decisions we make today will have an enduring impact on the health and prosperity of Lake Lure and we have to make sure we do what is best for the residents rather than outside entities. I do not have long term political aspirations, but I would be proud to continue my selfless service to the community by providing engineering and policy oversight at this critical time.

      2. What are the three primary issues you plan to focus on most if elected, re-elected, and why?  

    If elected, I intend to focus on infrastructure investment, financial stewardship, and responsive government to protect the desires and concerns of Lake Lure citizens. Specifically, I will:

    1. Build Town-County-State partnerships to leverage North Carolina State that are acceptable and beneficial to residents. This effort will help fund our projects to mitigate the tax burden on residents.
    2. Provide financial stewardship through disciplined budget oversight and careful asset management to maximize Town Services and avoid wasteful expenditures. We can ease our tax liability by fostering a completely self-sustaining Lake Operations model where operations and maintenance are funded primarily from external (tourism) sources.
    3. Provide an open and transparent forum to aggressively pursue grievances and concerns in a timely and effective manner. Also, I will protect property rights and facilitate fair zoning regulations that benefit residents rather than outside entities.

      3. What specific proposals, new ideas, or changes would you advocate for if elected or re-elected to the council?

    Lake Lure is a national treasure and a very important regional asset. Our watershed area encompasses five counties and Hickory Nut Gorge is an important commercial gateway to Western North Carolina. All stakeholders should participate and share in the necessary infrastructure development. We have an opportunity to promote the Hickory Nut Gorge with neighboring towns, County stakeholders, and State agencies to help with the investment in our infrastructure. I will promote State inter-agency cooperation to develop and implement integrated and cost-effective engineering solutions. I will work with adjacent Town and county government leaders to promote shared resources that are fairly allocated and equally resourced so that all communities benefit. Finally, I will encourage Private-Public ventures that increase our modest residential tax base and improve the quality of life services that Lake Lure residents desire.

    Bio for David DiOrio:

    Dr. Dave DiOrio has been a public servant in Federal Service for over 40 years. He graduated from the U. S. Naval Academy in 1983 and served for 25 years as a Naval Officer aboard several of our Navy’s nuclear submarines. He has deployed around the globe and participated in several national intelligence missions and war patrols. As a Navy Captain, he directed nuclear forces as the Deputy Director for Strategic Forces and supervised the conversion of Ballistic Missile Trident submarines to conventional use as the Director for Guided Missile Submarine Readiness. While in uniform, he earned a Master Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College and taught senior military officers in Military Operational Planning and Federal Inter-agency Coordination.  Dave then became a Federal Executive and Professor for the National Defense University and earned a PhD in Public Policy and Administration from Walden University. He specializes in governance and strategic planning. Dave continues to serve as an Adjunct Professor at the Joint Special Operations University where he prepares special operating forces for international counter-terrorism missions.  

    Dave and his wife Maria have lived all around the country while serving in the Navy and they decided to make Lake Lure their forever home. They were drawn to the area by the natural beauty, small-town atmosphere, and warm hospitality.  Dave’s nuclear engineering and government planning experience will help in planning and resourcing the Town’s complicated engineering projects. For the past several years, he rarely missed a town council meeting or an opportunity to serve. Today, he proudly volunteers as a Town policy and engineering advisor, member of the Utility Advisory Board, member of the Zoning and Planning Board, and as the Water Safety Director for the Olympiad.

    Christopher Patrick Bryant:

    A response to the questions was not received within the deadline requested. However, Mr. Bryant does have a campaign website with his bio and additional information, which you may view here.