This summer’s debate over Asheville City Council’s decision to change the city charter to allow partisan elections was a contentious one, with independents, Democrats and Republicans bickering over whether the switch would be beneficial or detrimental to local democracy.
The fallout resulted in a successful petition drive to put the matter to city voters. The referendum to determine whether Asheville will switch to partisan elections will be held Tuesday, Nov. 6—the date of Asheville’s next general election.
The petition to force a referendum on the matter succeeded by a narrow margin. On July 31, the Buncombe County Board of Elections announced that it had validated 5,022 petition signatures—just over the 5,000 required.
With the matter now set to be vote upon, the question still remains: Are partisan elections a good thing or bad thing?
A forum to be held Thursday, Oct. 11, will attempt to answer that question—or at least give people on both sides of the issue an opportunity to make their case.
The forum, presented by the Leadership Asheville Forum in conjunction with the N.C. Center for Creative Retirement, will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. at the center, which is located on the UNCA campus (get directions at www.unca.edu).
The event is free and open to the public, which will have the opportunity to pose questions to forum presenters.
Those scheduled to make presentations include Charlie Hume, leader of Let Asheville Vote, which spearheaded the petition drive. His presentation will focus on why the matter should be decided by voter referendum.
Hume will be joined by UNCA political science professor Bill Sabo, who will address the role of political parties. Also appearing will be Council members Jan Davis and Brownie Newman—two Democrats who fall on opposite sides of the partisan-election debate. Davis, who is opposed to partisan elections, will explain his position, while Newman—a proponent who spearheaded Council’s original vote to jettison nonpartisan elections, will attempt to explain his preference for partisan polling.