Asheville City Council takes next step toward election changes

Press release from the City of Asheville:

Asheville City Council took a step closer to amending its charter to reinstate at-large elections for all Council members and nonpartisan Council primaries by holding public hearings on the matter during their Sept. 24 meeting.

The City’s charter is listed in Chapter 1 of the Municipal Code, posted on the City’s website.

During the heavily attended meeting at the U.S. Cellular Center Banquet Hall, Council took public comment on two proposed ordinances designed to reverse state law mandating district elections for the City’s governing board.

In June 2018, the Legislature passed a bill establishing five Asheville City Council election districts, with the mayor and one council member elected at-large. The bill also moved Council elections from odd to even years and removed primary elections.

The number of Council members would remain the same, at seven, including the mayor.

To return to a substantially similar election format as existed before the state legislation, City Council would need to amend its charter.  This action requires a formal three-step procedure, as outlined by City Attorney Brad Branham during a July 29 worksession. Here is a link to his presentation to Council.

  • Step one: On Sept. 10, City Council passed two resolutions to consider amending the City charter to provide for at-large and nonpartisan primary elections, and setting public hearings on these changes.
  • Step two: At its Sept. 24 meeting, Council held public hearings on the two resolutions.
  • Step three: Following the public hearings, at a separate meeting, Council may vote on adopting the ordinances to change the City’s Charter. It’s worth noting that City Council will only meet once in October, on Oct. 22.

If the ordinances are adopted by the Council, the city’s Charter will be changed. The new election format will result in City Council elections being held in November 2020, with nonpartisan primaries for the Council being held in March of 2020. The filing period for candidates will begin in early December of 2019.

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