A flier funded by local businessman Chris Peterson and bearing a mocking, photoshopped picture of Asheville City Council member Cecil Bothwell, encouraging voters to back Council member Jan Davis and candidate Mark Cates has led to a condemnation by an advocacy group and public criticism. Davis has released a statement asserting he is unhappy with his inclusion in the flier, noting “I do not believe in trickery and dirty campaigning.” Cates, meanwhile, has released a statement saying he understands’ Peterson’s view.
The flier looks as follows:
The top image is heavily photoshopped from a photo of Bothwell taken at this year’s “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” fundraiser. Bothwell’s shirt read “Keep it Real” not “unbalanced.”
On Friday, People Advocating Real Conservancy, a neighborhood advocacy group which has campaigned for candidates Chris Pelly, Lael Gray and March Hunt
PARC's statement is as follows:
Election Day must be near!
Check your mail!
A photograph of Councilman Cecil Bothwell was altered to make a political point, in a last minute postcard asking us to vote for Jan Davis and Mark Cates.
The actual photograph, above left, was taken during the “Walk a Mile In Her Shoes” event held this April.
Men wore high heels in a fund-raising walk for Our Voice, the rape crisis center. Bothwell was one of many public officials and ordinary citizens marching against rape and sexual assault.
The retouched photo was sent to voters today, just four days before the election.
The text on the back says that electing progressives to City Council will mean “Expensive projects we can’t afford. Higher hidden taxes. And no end to his flaky far-left agenda.”
So the post card asks that instead, we keep Jan Davis on Council and elect Mark Cates.
In fact, though, Jan Davis finished fourth in the primary, after voters became aware that he
• voted against the early voting sites,
• voted not to re-open the pedestrian bridge over I-240 even after several deaths there,
• voted for larger signs for developments than the UDO calls for,
• voted against domestic partner benefits for city employees, and
• voted to deregulate downtown development by City Council, instead handing it over to unelected boards and commissions.
Mark Cates finished a distant fifth in the primary. Cates has never even voted in a city council election before, and his only known political experience is a brief stint as the bookkeeper for the Asheville Tea Party.
Please remember to vote this coming Tuesday. Your vote matters!
—the folks at Asheville PARC
Davis did initially vote against domestic partner benefits, but then changed his stance, and has since voted in favor of the benefits and an LGBT equality resolution for the city. On Saturday morning, Davis released the following statement, disassociating himself from Cates and criticizing his inclusion in the mailer:
“On Friday afternoon, I became aware of a mailer linking me with Mark Cates,” he wrote. “As I have stated in the past, I have no interest in being part of anyone’s slate. I am unhappy that I was included in this mailing as I have always been committed to put forward a clean above board campaign. I do not believe in trickery and dirty campaigning. But I do believe in Asheville and the diversity of people that make up our great City.”
When asked by Xpress about his thoughts on the flier, Cates criticized Bothwell and said he understood Peterson’s frustrations.
“It appears I wasn’t on the mailing list for it, but it’s not surprising to find local business owners who are extremely upset with a city council member that spends more time working on a negative campaign and spreading misinformation than he does figuring out ways to lower city fees for businesses to make it easier for them to hire the unemployed,” Cates wrote. “Nevertheless, I look forward to working with him to find ways to help local independent businesses when I’m on Council.”