Unaffiliated candidate considers sheriff challenge

By DeeAnna Haney | Mar 12, 2014

An unaffiliated candidate may be challenging incumbent Sheriff Greg Christopher in the race for Haywood County sheriff in November.

Christopher Rhinehart, 39, of Waynesville, has begun collecting signatures on a petition to seek elective office as candidate unaffiliated with any organized political party in the county — Democrat, Libertarian or Republican.

To be included on the general election ballot in November, Rhinehart must submit a petition to the county board of elections with signatures from 4 percent of the total number of registered voters in the county as of Jan 1. That means he must obtain 1,667 signatures by the deadline of noon Friday, June 27.

As of Tuesday, Rhinehart submitted 77 valid signatures, said Doyle Teague, elections official at the Haywood County Board of Elections. Candidates filing as a representative of an organized political party in the state must pay a filing fee by the end of Februray. Those seeking public office a candidate unaffiliated with a party follow the petition process.

Rhinehart will be required to pay a filing fee at the time the petition is approved by the board.

Rhinehart registered as an unaffiliated voter in the county 1998. He moved away and then voted provisionally in 2012, at which time he reregistered to vote in the county.

According to records at the county board of elections, Libertarians used the petition process to qualify as county commissioner candidates in 2000 and 2004, a time with the party was not officially recognized in the state. However, an unaffiliated candidate has never sought the position of sheriff.