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N. Carolina County Elects College Student as Tax Collector

Haywood County, N.C., Tax Collector-Elect Cothran is pursuing a double major in accounting and political science at UNC-Asheville. He will oversee a $40 million budget.

Voters in Haywood County, North Carolina, went to the polls on Tuesday, where among options for U.S. Senate, House of Representatives, and various state offices, they also had options for more local and county positions.

The voters have spoken, and have elected a 21 year-old senior at the University of North Carolina-Asheville, as their next county tax collector. Sebastian Cothran, ran as a Republican in the conservative Appalachian region of western North Carolina. He defeated the incumbent, Democrat Greg West, 52.5% to 47.5%. The difference was about 1,300 votes. The county has approximately 62,000 residents.

The local newspaper, The Mountaineer, noted that West had “the highest tax collection rate in the county’s history.”

“Haywood is the only county left in North Carolina where voters still choose the tax collector. And there’s a lot on the line. Haywood’s Tax Collector is responsible for collecting about $40 million annually in property taxes. The tax dollars fund county operations, from the jail and EMS, to locally-paid teachers and the animal shelter.”

The Mountaineer

Tax Collector-Elect Cothran is pursuing a double major in accounting and political science.

The Mountaineer notes that Haywood is the last county in the state to still fill the office by election, and that commissioners in the other 99 counties hire for the position.

“I’d like to thank the voters for putting their faith in me. I’m happy that I won, I’m happy to serve and just want to give a a big thank you to Haywood County for voting me in there,” Cothran said. “I was a little nervous going in there but it all worked out.” 

Quote from the Smoky Mountain News.