2017 municipal election results, reactions — with updates

GENERAL ELECTION DAY: Voters in Buncombe County went to the polls on Nov. 7 to cast ballots for a variety of municipal races, including Asheville mayor and City Council at polling places such as the First Congregational Church on Oak Street in Asheville. Photo by Carolyn Morrisroe
GENERAL ELECTION DAY: Voters in Buncombe County went to the polls on Nov. 7 to cast ballots for a variety of municipal races, including Asheville mayor and City Council at polling places such as the First Congregational Church on Oak Street in Asheville. Photo by Carolyn Morrisroe

Update, Nov. 8:

For a comprehensive wrap-up of the election results, see “Diversity, experience win Asheville City Council contest.”

Updates, 9:15-10 p.m.:

NEW FACE ON CITY COUNCIL: Sheneika Smith celebrates her election to Asheville City Council at the Arthur R. Edington Education & Career Center. Photo by Able Allen
NEW FACE ON CITY COUNCIL: Sheneika Smith celebrates her election to Asheville City Council at the Arthur R. Edington Education & Career Center. Photo by Able Allen

Mayor Esther Manheimer will serve another term as Asheville’s mayor and Vijay Kapoor and Sheneika Smith will join Gwen Wisler on Asheville City Council. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, the results of the 2017 general election are:

Mayor:

  • Esther Manheimer: 80.8 percent (12,997 votes)
  • Martin Ramsey: 18.6 percent (2,993 votes).

City Council:

  • Vijay Kapoor: 22.8 percent (10,491 votes)
  • Sheneika Smith: 19.9 percent (9,170 votes)
  • Gwen Wisler (incumbent): 18.2 percent (8,387 votes)
  • Kim Roney: 14.8 percent (6,801 votes)
  • Rich Lee: 13.6 percent (6,276 votes)
  • Dee Williams: 10.1 percent (4,663 votes)

A referendum to provide for six single-member electoral districts governing the nomination and election of Asheville City Council did not pass, with 75 percent of voters saying no.

Asheville wasn’t the only municipality in Buncombe County watching contested races this evening. In Black Mountain, Don Collins took 50.5 percent of the vote to unseat Mayor Michael Sobol. Newcomer Jeremie Konegni and incumbent Ryan Stone were elected to the Black Mountain Board of Aldermen. In Weaverville, incumbent Doug Jackson and Dottie Sherrill nabbed seats on Town Council. In Montreat, Kent Otto, Alice Boggs Lentz and Tom Widmer were the top vote getters for three commissioner seats, leaving Grace Nichols behind.

CALL ME MAYOR: Esther Manheimer watches precinct results come in at a family-friendly gathering at Well Played on Wall Street. Manheimer took 80.1 percent of the vote to win re-election. Photo by Virginia  Daffron
CALL ME MAYOR: Esther Manheimer watches precinct results come in at a family-friendly gathering at Well Played on Wall Street. Manheimer took 80.8 percent of the vote to win reelection. Photo by Virginia Daffron

Coming in second place and snagging a spot on Asheville City Council, Sheneika Smith says she came into this race looking to shift power in Asheville. “I’ve been inspired by a lot of social movements that are going on and were going on in the last four to five years: Occupy, definitely movements around environmental justice, Black Lives Matter,” she says. “I decided to step forward because you can’t just be a community organizer forever and not move forward to influence policy.”

Smith alluded to a grueling campaign season and thanked her supporters. “I have an entire legacy of people who have fought before me and a whole community who was rooting for me, so it definitely gave me the rigor I needed to make it through, but it was a challenge at times,” she says.

STILL 'BOUT IT BEING BETTER: Kim Roney fell just short of winning a seat on Asheville City Council but says there's still a lot of work to do in the community. Photo by Able Allen
STILL ‘BOUT IT BEING BETTER: Kim Roney fell just short of winning a seat on Asheville City Council but says there’s still a lot of work to do in the community. Photo by Able Allen

Kim Roney, gathered with Smith and supporters at the Arthur R. Edington Education & Career Center on election night, says she feels “really really really encouraged” by her finish, narrowly missing winning a seat on Asheville City Council. “We came in fourth place out of 12 candidates this season,” she says. “We’ve built community, we’ve built coalition, and we still have a lot, a lot of work to do.”

Roney says she’ll be honored to serve on the Multimodal Transportation Commission with Smith as a Council member. “I’m so proud of her as a friend, as a community leader, and we still have a lot of work to do in the city, so I’m about getting back to work. I think the community is ready to do that with me,” she adds.

Updates, 8:30-9 p.m.:

One hour after the polls closed, with 81.5 percent of precincts reporting, the Asheville City Council race is shaking out:

  • Vijay Kapoor: 22.8 percent (10,465 votes)
  • Sheneika Smith: 19.9 percent (9,141 votes)
  • Gwen Wisler (incumbent): 18.3 percent (8,375 votes)
  • Kim Roney: 14.8 percent (6,777 votes)
  • Rich Lee: 13.7 percent (6,265 votes)
  • Dee Williams: 10.1 percent (4,650 votes)
SMILING FACES: Gwen Wisler, left, the only incumbent City Council member left in the race, smiles with Council member Julie Mayfield as results come in. Photo by Virginia Daffrom
SMILING FACES: Gwen Wisler, left, the only incumbent City Council member left in the race, smiles with Council member Julie Mayfield as results come in. Photo by Virginia Daffrom

For mayor, Esther Manheimer has a lock on another term, with 80.8 percent of the votes (12,964), while Martin Ramsey claims 18.6 percent (2,981).

At Pack’s Tavern, cheering breaks out as supporters watch Wisler’s vote tally increase. “Thank you, everyone, I couldn’t have done it without you,” Wisler says.

At the Charlotte Street Pub, Dee Williams, who appears headed for a last-place finish, thanks the small room of supporters for believing in her. The room takes turns saying what the campaign and the Green Party meant to them. They are disappointed with the loss by all accounts, but they see what they’ve done as progress.

MOVING FORWARD: Dee Williams tells her supporters, “Do not feel bad, do not feel regretful. It is time to pick up and start planning for the next campaign.” Photo by Able Allen
MOVING FORWARD: Dee Williams tells her supporters, “Do not feel bad, do not feel regretful. It is time to pick up and start planning for the next campaign or the next candidate.” Photo by Able Allen

“I think our message captivated a lot of people,” Williams says. “It has changed the ground that the Green Party and these candidates will walk on forever.”

“I want to be a trailblazer for other people,” Williams adds. “This is something that no matter what happens after tonight, nobody can take away.”

Even with only 44 out of 54 Buncombe County precincts reporting, voter turnout is running much higher than in the past two municipal elections, at 19,554 out of 84,814 registered voters, or 23 percent. In the 2015 general election, 14,080 out of 82,845 registered voters cast ballots, or 17 percent. In 2013, 15,791 people cast ballots out of 81,930 registered voters, or 19.27 percent.

Before all the votes are tallied, it’s clear that voter turnout was high for a municipal election, Mayor Esther Manheimer says from her gathering at Well Played on Wall Street. “I think we’re on track to see the highest turnout ever, numberwise, for a municipal election. So it’s really exciting,” she says. “I feel like people have really gotten engaged since the presidential election. And engagement is good. We’ve got people who’ve never participated in municipal elections before and they’re here, they’re volunteering on campaigns and they’re voting. And that’s a different experience than I’ve previously experienced.”

Manheimer tentatively thanks those who voted for her, as early returns show a sizable lead. “I’m feeling flattered that the people of Asheville overwhelmingly seem to be re-electing me,” she says.

Original post:

As the polls close at 7:30 p.m. in Buncombe County for municipal general election, six candidates are hoping for a seat on Asheville City Council and two candidates are in the running for Asheville mayor, while a handful of other town throughout the county will also elect new representatives.

Check back here throughout the evening as Xpress keeps track of results and gets reactions from candidates on their campaigns and the future of Asheville and Buncombe County.

Early vote totals are coming in: For Asheville mayor, incumbent Esther Manheimer has a commanding lead with 85 percent of the vote (4,275 votes) to challenger Martin Ramsey’s 14 percent (711 votes).

In the Asheville City Council contest, the candidates garnered early votes in the following order:

  • Vijay Kapoor: 27.2 percent (3,878 votes)
  • Gwen Wisler (incumbent): 21.9 percent (3,120 votes)
  • Sheneika Smith: 17.7 percent (2,526 votes)
  • Rich Lee: 13.5 percent (1,931 votes)
  • Kim Roney: 10.5 percent (1,497 votes)
  • Dee Williams: 8.9 percent (1,263 votes)
COUNCIL RACE HEATS UP: Candidate Vijay Kapoor watches results come in at Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack in South Asheville along with supporters and volunteers. Photo by Able Allen.
COUNCIL RACE HEATS UP: Candidate Vijay Kapoor watches results come in at Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack in South Asheville along with supporters and volunteers. Photo by Able Allen.

At Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack in South Asheville, Vijay Kapoor, the early front-runner for City Council, says, “I’m feeling very good, humbled, thrilled to be joined by all the volunteers, my family. They worked really hard to try and get our message out throughout the city. It’s rewarding that it actually seems to be working.”

“We’ll see what happens — a lot of people showed up today,” Kapoor adds. “And this thing is not over.”

— Able Allen and Virginia Daffron contributed to this report

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About Carolyn Morrisroe
Carolyn Morrisroe is the news editor and city government reporter at Mountain Xpress. She can be reached at cmorrisroe@mountainx.com. Follow me @CarolynMorrisro

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21 thoughts on “2017 municipal election results, reactions — with updates

  1. Jillian

    Please tell me that Rich Lee is going to make this cut. SERIOUSLY, what does a man have to do prove fluid worth?!

    • NFB

      Sometimes it takes practice. There have been several memmbers of city council who had to run several times before finally making the cut. Brownie Newman lost his first two runs before winning and serving 8 years.

  2. luther blissett

    Well, that wasn’t an edge-of-the-seat thing. Congratulations to the mayor, and to Kapoor, Smith and Wisler. And to the city’s voters for an improved turnout, though it could still be better. Feels like an important election in terms of setting the overall character of City Council for the coming couple of years.

    • Huhsure

      And nary a Republican will ever win, unless you gerrymander down to the house level. And have noncontiguous districts. And perform a ritual sacrifice on the new moon.

      • Alan Ditmore

        But a real progressive will win, and not just 7 lipservice liberal elite PINO zoners causing the biggest achievement gap in the state, huge commutes and massive homelessness!

    • NFB

      Well, it’s interesting that developers and out of town hotel owners decided to spend money trying to defeat a symbolic, non-binding referendum. Perhaps they are feel less assured that the courts will back them up in what is likely to be a lawsuit filed by the city.

          • Huhsure

            Sad?

            What about you? Sad that a South Asheville district, you and your retinue’s only possibility to get a Republican on the City Council, just fell to a remarkably qualified Dem?

            Now your only opportunity to get a Republican onto the AVL city council will be to redistrict the city down to the house level.

            We’ll see how that stands up in court, won’t we? Probably as well as the Republican’s pathetic attempt to push through another race-based gerrymander “fix” by simply saying “it’s not racial.”

        • NFB

          Kinda fascinating to know that conservatives and Libertarians support quotas and affirmative action.

  3. NFB

    Two quick takeaways from the results:

    1. South Asheville does not need affirmative action to get someone who lives there a seat on council

    2. The referendum results show that even south Asheville does not want Republican affirmative action.

    • luther blissett

      3. A local support base is valuable, but you need a broader citywide appeal to win with the at-large system. Though we knew this already.

      4. There’s a legitimate case for a larger City Council that re-integrates some of the functions and workload currently delegated to appointed committees. Not all election years produce enough qualified candidates for it to be a pity some lost, but many do, and this is one of them.

  4. Peter Robbins

    I hope this referendum defeat doesn’t cause Rep. Chuck Edwards to lose heart. Let’s pray he has the courage to continue his drive to carve Asheville into districts, as there may be no other way now to weaken South Asheville’s stranglehold on city elections. The conservatives are right. It’s become painfully obvious that a white male doesn’t have a chance to win a citywide race anymore. An Asian American. Two African Americans. Four women. Do all the faces on the City Council have to look the exactly same? Why are Asheville voters so afraid of diversity?

    One other thing is clear, too: Edwards shouldn’t waste any more effort trying to gauge public opinion by the number of blinking lights he remembers seeing on his answering machine. From now on, if Baby Daca wants to know what the people of Asheville think, he should save time and just ask his mentor, Papa Daca. That way the old pro can take him under his wing and patiently explain, “Who cares?”

    • luther blissett

      Personally, I can’t wait for the state bill that requires Hendersonville’s mayor to be selected from among the goats at the Carl Sandburg Home.

  5. SpareChange

    Can someone explain how % of the vote for the council is being computed here, and what it attempts to show? I’ve calculated it using a couple different assumptions, but I have not come up with these numbers. I figure it has something to do with the fact that the “typical” voter is casting 3 votes instead of 1, but I’m still coming up with different numbers. Thanks in advance for any clarification.

    • Able Allen

      Hi SpareChange, thanks for the good question. This phenomenon is maddening to me when I go back and look at old election results. Probably the board of elections would have a good answer.

      Basically I think of it like this:
      Every voter who casts a ballot has a bucket of votes to spend equal to the number of seats being contested. They may spend their votes (In this case 3) on any of the candidates, but may not spend more than one vote on a single candidate. So, a voter will choose to vote between 0 and 3 times. So in the end we have a number of total votes cast between <100 percent and 300 percent of the total number of voters/ballots cast (theoretically, it could be zero percent, but it seems to usually be in the neighborhood of 250 percent).

      The percentage of the votes a council candidate is attributed is based on the total number of votes cast for the candidate against the total number of votes cast for all the other candidates (total votes cast for all candidates divided by votes cast for a single candidate). Keep in mind, this does not tell one the percentage of total voters that voted for a particular candidate. Consequently, it’s pretty much impossible to calculate the actual voter turnout by simply looking at the vote totals for each candidate, nor can one pinpoint how many people only voted for one candidate.

      I hope this helps.

      • SpareChange

        Thanks! It helps a great deal. In particular it tells me that maybe I don’t need to sign up for remedial math after all (although a little brushing up wouldn’t hurt given how many times I had to recrunch the numbers to get it right).

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