The Beat: The race is on

Asheville City Council member Cecil Bothwell’s decision to run against Rep. Heath Shuler in the 2012 Democratic primary made the top online news at mountainx.com last week. Bothwell had previously announced he’d run against Shuler as an independent. In “Bothwell Now Running Against Shuler as a Democrat,” Xpress Reporter David Forbes quotes Bothwell: “I’ve heard from hundreds of people, from WNC to Washington, D.C., who believe the most likely path to success is up the middle instead of trying for an end-run. Groups are smarter than individuals, and I’m following advice gleaned from a wide network of friends and supporters.”

According to Forbes’ analysis, “Bothwell would have faced some heavy obstacles getting on the ballot as an unaffiliated candidate. Under North Carolina law, he would need a petition with signatures from 4 percent of the congressional district’s registered voters.”

While some online readers commented that Bothwell was “waffling,” user Davyne remarked, “It’s a big decision, and as more is revealed during big decision time, the frustrations and disappointments [have] led to a desire to be part of a change in direction.”

Indy499 responded that this was “great spin” on Davyne’s part, while Mick Ballantine said that “Cecil will only drain Shuler’s war chest and make him an even bigger target for the Republican candidate.”

R.Bernier, meanwhile, asked only that Bothwell be sure to debate Shuler.

Local politics matter

In other political news, the race for three seats on the Asheville City Council warmed up. East Asheville neighborhood advocate Chris Pelly announced he would run this fall — so did Greenway Commission Chair Marc Hunt and local engineer Mark Cates.

But “All three Council incumbents up for re-election — Vice Mayor Brownie Newman, Jan Davis and Bill Russell — tell Xpress that they remain undecided about running for another term,” according to the April 30 mountainx.com blog post “City Council Field Shapes Up: Candidates Declare, Incumbents Undecided.”

Backtracking on rails

In our weekly online Statehouse coverage, Contributing Editor Nelda Holder reported that Rep. Ray Rapp of Mars Hill isn’t happy with what Republicans are doing to mass transit. House Bill 422 would “prohibit the N.C. Department of Transportation from accepting any funds from the federal government for a high-speed rail project without explicit approval from the General Assembly. And while the bill saw some proposed modifications in committee, Rapp [called] it a ‘frontal assault on public transportation in North Carolina,’” Holder reported in the April 25 post “Backtracking on Rails: A Legislative Reversal.”

Rapp claims that the funding restrictions risk the loss of “’4,800 jobs in the short term and the loss of a faster, safer rail line between Charlotte and Raleigh in the long run.’ That line, he emphasized, is important to any future service to Asheville because that connection point is on the Charlotte/Raleigh line slated for upgrading.’”

A five-term Democrat, Rapp has long been involved with efforts and committees related to improved rail service.

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About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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