A slew of hopeful candidates flocked to the Lincoln County Board of Elections office on Monday at noon, when the filing period for the 2018 election officially opened.

Local voters can expect a crowded ballot, with city and county elections taking place in the same cycle for the first time in an effort to save money. In addition to city council and county commission races, voters will also elect a clerk of court, register of deeds and a new Lincoln County sheriff.

The race for sheriff has been picking up steam for nearly a year now, ever since sitting county commission chairman Bill Beam announced his intent to seek the office. Beam, a career law enforcement officer who climbed the ranks to chief deputy throughout his 35 years at the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, was among the first to officially file for the Republican Party’s nomination on Monday afternoon.

Beam was joined by Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Tim Johnson at the elections office on Monday. Johnson, like Beam, has also spent his entire 27-year law enforcement career in Lincoln County. Johnson will also be seeking the Republican Party’s nomination for the 2018 election of a new Lincoln County sheriff.

Lincoln County Democrats have set their sights on the four Lincolnton City Council seats up for election this year.

Incumbent candidates Mayor Ed Hatley and Ward 3 Councilman Dr. Martin Eaddy both filed on Monday to campaign for re-election. The two longtime Lincoln County educators are each seeking their second term in office.

Two Democrats, Mary Frances White and Lincolnton Police Department Sgt. Willie Vaughn, will compete for the party’s nomination to represent Ward 1 on the Lincolnton City Council. White, the owner and operator of Ebony and White’s Funeral Service, sought election to the same seat in 2013, but ultimately lost to the late Devin Rhyne by fewer than 50 votes. Incumbent Ward 1 councilman Tim Smith, a Republican who was appointed when Rhyne stepped down in 2016, will not campaign to keep his seat.

The fifth and final Democrat to file on Monday afternoon was Dr. Jim Watson, the former superintendent of the Lincoln County Schools system. Watson will campaign for the Ward 2 seat currently occupied by Democrat David Black who, like Smith, was appointed to the council.

Three Republicans filed for the two county commission seats soon to be vacated by Beam and Commissioner Martin Oakes, who will each run for other offices.

Christine Poinsette, the former chair of the Lincoln County planning board, announced her intent to campaign for a seat on the board of commissioners last year and made it official on Monday. Milton Sigmon, who currently serves on the planning board after his appointment last year, and George Mull, a Vale resident, also filed to be included on the ballot.

Incumbent clerk of court Fred Hatley, a Republican, has filed to seek re-election for his fifth term in the office. He will be opposed by Democrat Franklin Lowery, the bishop at Gold Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Stanley, who also filed on Monday afternoon.

Two other incumbents — District Attorney Mike Miller and Register of Deeds Danny Hester, both of whom are Republicans — also filed to run for re-election on Monday.

Lincoln County’s incumbent state legislators, Sen. David Curtis and Rep. Jason Saine, have each announced their intent to seek re-election.

Curtis, a Republican, filed officially on Tuesday and will face two Republican challengers in the May primary election. Former Shelby Mayor Ted Alexander filed to campaign for the seat on Monday and current Lincoln County Commissioner Martin Oakes told the Times-News that he plans to file later in the week.

Incumbent Rep. Patrick McHenry, a Republican and the current chief deputy whip in the United States House of Representatives, will face a Republican challenger for his seat as the representative from North Carolina’s 10th congressional district. Gina Collias, a Cleveland County real estate broker, will campaign against the longtime congressman for the party’s nomination.

The Republican nominee, whether it be McHenry, Collias or someone else, will face a Democrat in November’s general election. David Brown, an information technology consultant from McAdenville, filed to campaign for the Democratic Party’s nomination on Monday.

Prospective candidates have until noon on Feb. 28 to file and get their name on this year’s ballot.

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