Less than three months after saying she would not run for reelection, incumbent Robin Cape announced that she will make a bid as a write-in candidate for Asheville City Council.
Cape, who won her seat in 2005, says that she has taken care of the personal and family issues that initially made her pull out of the race. But she cites the response from her supporters as the main factor in her decision.
"I got an incredible outpouring from the community that said, essentially, 'We don't want you to leave.'" Cape also noted that some initiatives she helped launch will come to Council after the election and that she'd help keep things rolling by staying on.
In the upcoming primary race, 10 candidates, including fellow incumbents Carl Mumpower and Kelly Miller, have filed for places on the ballot. The six top vote-getters will advance to the general election. Since there is no spot for write-in candidates during the primary, Cape's supporters will not be able to cast a ballot for her until the Nov. 3 general election (or during early voting from Oct. 15 to Oct. 31).
Don Wright, general counsel of the North Carolina Board of Elections, says that a write-in candidate in municipal elections — unlike in county, state or federal elections — does not need to present a petition. Write-in candidates, he continues, are subject to the same campaign finance laws as any other candidate. A statement of committee organization that Cape submitted on April 11 before she withdrew her name is still on file with the Buncombe County Board of Elections.
This is not the first time Cape has pursued a write-in candidacy. Her introduction to the political arena came in 2003, after she won 231 write-in votes to secure a seat on the Woodfin Water Board. Cape, who had led a grassroots movement to resist the logging of the Woodfin watershed, was one of three newly elected board members to unseat incumbents in the aftermath of the scandal. At the time, a Buncombe County Board of Elections official told Xpress that Cape's election was the first successful write-in candidacy in his 25 years on the board (see "One Man, One vote, Many Capes," Nov. 11, 2003, Xpress).
Write-in candidates are not unheard of in Asheville City Council politics, but they rarely make a strong showing when it's time to count the ballots. Cape's status as an incumbent, however, could mean bigger numbers come November.