[Editor’‘s note: The original version of this post had a headline that said the candidate “will stick with method.” It has now been changed to say that he “defends method.”]
In what may be a first for Asheville City Council campaigns, candidate Cecil Bothwell has deployed robo-calls. In an announcement this morning, he apologized to voters that may have gotten repeat calls, but touted the method as low on cost and environmental impact.
The calls, some of which went out this morning around 9 a.m., invited listeners to Bothwell’s campaign kick-off party this Friday at the Grey Eagle.
In the call, Bothwell says, “Hey, I don’t like robo-calls, but there’s no way to call 20,000 folks at one time. If you love Asheville the way I do then we can work together to build an even better community. Better for today’s citizens, better opportunities for our children and a more secure future.”
The calls are paid for by Bothwell’s campaign fund.
In an e-mail about two hours later, Bothwell apologized to those who may have been called twice.
“I’m still trying to figure out how that system works,” the message reads. “And, yes, I know that recorded messages can be annoying. We’re experimenting with the calls because people tend to ignore city elections, and getting out the vote is urgent.”
The announcement also defends the method.
“Each of those calls cost the campaign 7 cents. There is no way to compete with that cost with direct mail and no way to match the outreach with live phone banking. In addition, direct mail, which all of the ‘experts’ say is the best way to reach voters, wastes an enormous amount of paper, not to mention a cost that is about 10 times the phone call. For a grass roots, low cost, environmentally sensitive campaign, it seems like a good thing to try. Low cost. No paper waste.”
Buncombe County Board of Elections Director Trena Parker said it may be the first time robo-calls have been used in a City Council campaign.
“I don’t ever remember the topic coming up before, though I can’t for certain say a campaign has never used it,” Parker told Xpress.
— David Forbes, staff writer