On Oct. 2, Western North Carolina Vote Tracker launched. It's an online service that aims to help area voters follow legislation pertaining to six categories: economic security, education, environment, health and safety and women’s issues. “It’s really to help create more transparency and kind of lift the veil around the legislations affecting our area,” says Adrienne Ammerman, director of engagement at Children First/Communities in Schools of Buncombe
The site was introduced through a diverse partnership of local nonprofits — Children First/Communities In Schools of Buncombe County, Just Economics of WNC, Pisgah Legal Services, Western North Carolina Alliance and Women for Women: A Giving Circle, she explains. “It can sometimes be hard to figure out what each legislation is and who is voting on it,” says Ammerman. “Hopefully [the service] will help people to be more informed.”
WNC Vote Tracker highlights the key issues addressed by the North Carolina General Assembly. Each bill is categorized and summarized, with well-organized bullet points that explain its aspects. The tracker also details the bill’s current status, the WNC legislator who sponsored it and legislators who either voted for, against or no vote cast.
“Right now there is a lot of attention focused on the government — on the federal shutdown, what’s going on in D.C., the fighting between Democrats and Republicans,” she continues. “Here in Buncombe County there is a lot of legislation … going into effect Jan. 1. These are laws that impact Buncombe residents right now. They can look at the cuts that have taken place to our education system and connect the dots between the legislation and what’s going on in our classrooms today.”
The Asheville-based Children First has also partnered with Mountain Xpress: In this issue, Xpress will distribute an Asheville and Black Mountain candidates guide.
“In terms of timing, we wanted to make a guide available to figure out how the candidates stand on issues beforehand,” Ammerman said. “It’s really just a tool for people to use to take into vote with them or read ahead of time. Last year we gave out 10,000 copies, and it was a much more DIY effort of people coming in and picking up stacks of them to hand out. This year, because it’s in Mountain Xpress, we’ll get 25,000 copies out right away.”
Hayley Benton is an Asheville freelance writer.