Asheville City Council member Robin Cape, noted as a sustainability advocate, will not seek re-election in November.
The announcement came on Cape’s Facebook site, and despite Internet-based rumors that she was planning a mayoral bid, she told Xpress she’s getting out of electoral politics.
Elected in 2005, Cape cited several reasons for her decision, including life changes stemming from a tumultuous year that saw the death of her father, the breakup of her marriage and the need to get on with a career.
“Truthfully, Council pays very little,” she said. “I’m a recently separated woman with two teenage children looking at college. It’s timely to begin looking at my own career rather than postponing it until I’m 56.”
But Cape also feels it’s time to move the sustainability discussion she has championed into a broader, regional arena.
“I feel I have positioned myself in the past few years that I can play a role in the larger conversation about sustainability,” she notes. “Now how does that work? I don’t know; I’m still figuring it out. There’s some form of consultant business that I have ahead of me in this.”
The very word “sustainability,” Cape maintains, is no longer the oddity it was when she initially ran for City Council. “Everybody who’s running, who I’ve seen running so far, is running on a sustainability platform. Kelly [Miller] is interested in it. Brownie [Newman] is interested in it. The mayor is interested in it. You don’t need me—I’m redundant.”
Cape’s announcement ensures that at least one new Council member will claim a seat in the November elections. Two-term Council member Carl Mumpower has announced his intention to run again, as has Kelly Miller, who was appointed to his seat last December. City Council elections are held every two years, with Council members serving staggered four-year terms. This year, three Council positions plus the mayor’s seat will be up for grabs.
Meanwhile, the field of newcomers continues to build, with early announcements by activist/writer Cecil Bothwell, political blogger Gordon Smith and attorney Esther Manheimer, who also applied for the Council seat assigned to Miller. Another contender, J. Neal Jackson, has filed preliminary paperwork with the Buncombe County Board of Elections.
Vice Mayor Jan Davis says Cape’s announcement may bring more candidates out of the woodwork. “This is going to open things wide up,” he predicts, adding, “Robin’s seat certainly makes it a different deal.”
Also up for re-election is Mayor Terry Bellamy, who’s still unopposed at this writing. (Despite rumors on local blogs, Davis, like Cape, says he has no intention of running for mayor.) Only one person, local artist Jenny Bowen, has indicated she may mount a bid if no serious contenders emerge.
Bellamy, however, “seems very strong in her seat,” says Buncombe County Democratic Party Chair Charles Carter.
Cape, meanwhile, says she hopes to spend the remaining six months of her term shepherding some of the changes spelled out in the Downtown Master Plan into law, establishing green-building initiatives downtown, and seeing parts of the proposed Transit Master Plan come before Council.
“But you get into the silly season of elections, things naturally slow down,” she notes, adding, “You’ll see less controversial items on the agenda, for sure.”