In response to proposed Statehouse districts released July 13 that place Democratic Reps. Susan Fisher and Patsy Keever in the same district, both are urging supporters to speak out against the plan at a July 18 public hearing at A-B Tech. If passed, the plan would potentially pit the two colleagues against each other in a primary next year to represent a newly drawn 114th that encapsulates most of Asheville.
Neither wants to oppose the other, they say.
“If we do run against each other, it’s going to be very difficult because we like each other, and both think the other one’s doing a great job,” explains Keever. “It might be the world’s cleanest campaign if it has to happen. But I think it’s way to early to say what’s going to happen. … We’re looking at our options. We’re not going to go down without a fight.”
Those options include joining with the state party in a lawsuit to oppose the maps on the basis of gerrymandering, which both say they’re prepared to do. Having supporters go on the public record against the plans could help that effort they say, adding that they’re also hopeful that a public outcry against the proposal could help influence the GOP leaders who drafted it to change their minds.
“Even if it doesn’t appear to make a difference on that day or in this phase of the process, I think in later phases it will absolutely make a difference,” Fisher maintains.
Members of the public are welcome to speak at the forum, which will be held at A-B Tech’s Ferguson Auditorium Monday, July 18, between 3 and 9 p.m. And unlike the July 7 hearing on the congressional district proposal, Buncombe County residents will not have to share time with speakers in other parts of the state.
That format, which featured different sites taking turns telecasting speakers to Raleigh, created an uproar among attendees who were forced to wait up to an hour between local speakers. This time around, however, the Joint House and Senate Redistricting Committee elected to give Buncombe residents their own hearing.
Members of the committee will be in attendance, although as of July 15, it still wasn’t clear who those members will be, according to House officials. All public comments will be recorded, and given to members of the committee, they report. Public comments can also be submitted online and via mail.
To sign up to speak at the hearing, submit comments online and for more information, consult the North Carolina General Assembly site here.
Rep. Patsy Keever:
Rep. Susan Fisher: