Asheville voters to weigh in on district elections for City Council

PIECES OF THE PIE: Whether to divvy up the city of Asheville into districts for seats on City Council is a question voters will face in the Nov. 7 general election. The referendum asks voters if they support a state law requiring the city to create six, single-member districts for choosing Asheville’s elected representatives beginning in 2019. Graphic by Scott Southwick
PIECES OF THE PIE: Whether to divvy up the city of Asheville into districts for seats on City Council is a question voters will face in the Nov. 7 general election. The referendum asks voters if they support a state law requiring the city to create six, single-member districts for choosing Asheville’s elected representatives beginning in 2019. Graphic by Scott Southwick

Asheville, N.C. — Asheville City Council voted in July to amend the city’s charter to create six single-member districts for seats on the Council. The new plan would replace the current at-large system, in which all six seats on City Council are elected by citywide vote. The mayor would continue to be elected by all city voters.

The change is to go into effect “only on approval by vote of the people,” according to Council’s resolution. City voters will decide whether to approve the new setup in a referendum that appears on the Nov. 7 general election ballot. (See sidebar, “On the ballot”)

But Asheville’s top elected officials won’t be disappointed if voters reject the electoral scheme they’ve proposed. In fact, most Council members have made it clear that’s the outcome they are hoping for.

Riddle me this

There is a lot of confusion, which there should be, because this is actually pretty complicated,” says Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer of the paradoxical motivations behind Council’s move to amend the city’s charter.

“I think if people were just being asked the academic question of whether or not they want [election] districts,” Manheimer continues, “it would stand a really good chance of winning.”

But instead of the more general question of whether district-based elections should replace the at-large system, the referendum asks voters to respond to a specific structure imposed by a new state law.

First proposed by Sen. Tom Apodaca of Hendersonville just before his retirement in 2016, the legislation creating election districts in Asheville was reintroduced by his successor, Sen. Chuck Edwards, in March this year.

Ch-ch-ch-changes

MATTER OF STATE: Sen. Chuck Edwards of Hendersonville says district representation would “bring the city government closer to its citizens.” Photo courtesy of Edwards
MATTER OF STATE: Sen. Chuck Edwards of Hendersonville says district representation would “bring the city government closer to its citizens.” Photo courtesy of Edwards

Over time, the Apodaca/Edwards bill has been “modified and modified and modified,” Manheimer says. Some of those changes came in the wake of a federal court decision on a state-mandated redistricting plan for the city of Greensboro, she explains.

The Greensboro legislation prevented that city’s voters from reversing the state’s changes to the new districts for a set period of time. A similar prohibition was included in the legislation that created election districts for seats on the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners in 2011.

But the federal court ruled the state’s Greensboro legislation treated that city’s voters differently than other citizens by prohibiting them from voting on their municipal electoral system. The disparity amounted to a violation of Greensboro citizens’ constitutional right to equal protection under the law, the court said.

After the April court decision, state lawmakers removed language that would have prevented Asheville from holding a referendum on the issue.

The bill, which passed into law on June 29, requires Asheville to amend the city’s charter to implement six single-member election districts for seats on City Council by Nov. 1, a deadline Manheimer says the city has met. The law also establishes a Nov. 15 deadline for the city to draw the district lines.

Asheville’s not rushing to draw the lines, the mayor says. “We are in a bit of a showdown here with the legislature, because we haven’t taken any steps to draw lines, and we’re going to look at the outcome of the vote and decide what to do,” she explains.

Balancing act

Edwards’ 48th Senate District includes just over 10,000 registered voters who live in South Asheville, in addition to residents of Henderson, Buncombe and Transylvania counties. Under the current system, he says, “If a citizen now has a viewpoint or an issue, there is no single council member that is assigned to nor accountable to that citizen’s concerns.” District elections would result in “a much greater likelihood that the citizens would know, or at least have a better chance of getting to know their Council member because they would live in the same part of the city,” he says.

Running in a district the candidate calls home, he adds, would be less expensive than mounting a citywide campaign, meaning more people could be motivated to run for office in a district system.

While South Asheville has historically elected few of its residents to Council, concern that the area is underrepresented has lost some of its urgency in the face of the results of this year’s City Council primary. Vijay Kapoor, a resident of the Ballantree neighborhood off Sweeten Creek Road in South Asheville, captured the largest share of primary votes of the 12 candidates.

Kapoor has said he’s not a fan of the the Apodaca/Edwards plan for district elections. “I neither support the bill nor do I agree with the manner in which Sen. Edwards is proceeding,” he declares in a position statement on his campaign website. He sees the bill as a way to boost conservative candidates and he believes “districts create turf and have the potential to pit parts of the city against each other in competition.”

Carl Mumpower, chair of the Buncombe County Republican Party, doesn’t hesitate to frame the issue in ideological terms. He says sitting Council members are using the referendum vote to “preserve their 100 percent liberal-progressive lock on our governing body.”

Calling district elections “the only way a potential for balanced representation can be introduced,” Mumpower nonetheless expects the referendum to fail. “Putting this issue to an organized voting bloc that dominates the 15 percent of voters who typically come out for municipal elections is motion over action,” he says.

Uncharted territory

ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL: Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer says City Council is “offering the voters an opportunity ... to decide whether or not we want districts.” Photo courtesy of Manheimer
ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL: Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer says City Council is “offering the voters an opportunity … to decide whether or not we want districts.” Photo courtesy of Manheimer

Not only is the situation complicated, Manheimer says, “it’s unprecedented.” The mayor says neither she nor the city attorney has found evidence of a similar situation in the state’s history.

“We’ve had local governments in North Carolina successfully challenge legislation like this, that either imposed redistricting of their county commission seats or their council seats,” she says. “But we haven’t had a situation where the council or the commission concurrently ran a referendum issue in the face of the legislation.”

That hadn’t happened because previous legislation prohibited the local bodies from taking a vote, she says. In light of the federal court’s ruling, “We felt like we needed to ask the voters about the proposal in this legislation,” Manheimer says.

Depending on the outcome, the referendum could set the stage for the city to challenge the state’s effort to impose districts. “If for some reason this were to end up in the courts, you need to be able to demonstrate to the judge that the voters considered this exact concept that’s proposed in this legislation,” the mayor explains.

Mumpower is thinking along similar lines. “We can look forward to city property owners funding a legal battle with Raleigh,” he says.

Community views

Asked what she’s hearing in the community about the referendum, Darlene Azarmi of the nonprofit voting rights advocacy organization Democracy NC responds, “We are pretty much hearing nothing. Our volunteers are saying we aren’t hearing about this, and we should be.”

To address a lack of information among local voters, Azarmi and her volunteers organized an educational event on the district election referendum on Oct. 17. Although Democracy NC hasn’t taken a position on the issue, Azarmi says, “The majority of City Council candidates don’t support the proposed districts. Among people who are politically inclined and interested, there seems to be a consensus that this will not pass in Asheville.” Still, she adds, “You never know.”

South Asheville resident Olivia Randolph opposes the state’s plan. “I voted for Vijay because he’s against districting, but also because he’s from South Asheville, where I live. I was excited to have a good candidate who understands the issues we face down here, but I don’t want to be forced to vote for someone in South Asheville just because they’re the only option in my district,” she says.

Rather than dividing the city into a collection of geographical entities, Randolph says, “We should focus on developing strong candidates across the city who we can all feel good about supporting.”

Commenting at City Council’s meeting on April 25, Rich Lee called Edwards’ district legislation “a unique threat to the city of Asheville and our decision-making and our ability to tackle the big kind of holistic challenges like affordability and devoting resources to sections of the city.” If the districting scheme proposed by Edwards were implemented, Lee said, “There’d be a lot more factionalism and a lot more focus on these separate fiefdoms.”

Lee is a candidate for City Council. He lives in Haw Creek, a neighborhood of East Asheville. He finished fifth in the primary election with just under 10 percent of the vote; along with the five other top finishers in the primary, Lee advanced to the general election.

People’s choice

As voters go to the polls during early voting leading up to Election Day on Nov. 7, Edwards maintains that the outcome of the referendum is irrelevant. “No referendum on the matter will circumvent the state’s requirement of the city to meet all of the provisions of the law leading up to and including the districted elections to be held in 2019,” the senator says.

For her part, Manheimer says Asheville voters are tired of state meddling in the city’s affairs. “I think, because this is being imposed on us by the legislature, and there’s such resistance to that form of governing, that it’s not likely to pass.”

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About Virginia Daffron
Managing editor, lover of mountains, native of WNC. Follow me @virginiadaffron

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57 thoughts on “Asheville voters to weigh in on district elections for City Council

  1. luther blissett

    District elections would result in “a much greater likelihood that the citizens would know, or at least have a better chance of getting to know their Council member because they would live in the same part of the city,” he says.

    “This does not, of course, apply to NCGA or US House districts, which are painstakingly drawn by computer to keep me and my colleagues in power, or judicial districts, which we’re changing for equally political reasons,” he did not say from his office in Hendersonville, a city with at-large council elections.

    If City Council elected more members and operated more like a mini-legislature, then I could see the value of district-based elections. Galway City in Ireland is about the same size as Asheville: it has 18 council members across three districts, divided into a governing coalition and an opposition group. But that’s not how American cities typically work. I could even countenance a mixed system of at-large and “district” seats under the current arrangement, though it’s not going to change the artificiality of any district boundaries. Baby Daca’s stated rationale is nonsense, and Carl Mumpower admits it.

  2. Neither the AC-T article nor this one mentions that S.B. 285 allows the city to draw district maps through various means—a task they have chosen not to undertake:

    “SECTION 1.(b) In assigning territory to each single‑member electoral district, the City Council shall adopt the final map reported to the City by the independent districting commission appointed by the City Council…”

    “SECTION 2.(a) …City Council may assign territory to each single‑member electoral district through a process established by the City Council, including establishing a working group, advisory board, or other appointed body to make recommendations to the City Council.”

    http://bit.ly/2gyUYta

    • bsummers

      Yes, what an oversight that no one mentions how the bill generously allows the City to do what it forces them to do.

      “Sure, I beat my kid. But I allowed him to choose whether I used my belt or a lead pipe.”

    • However, why would anyone think this omission was an oversight? This is a prominent point in the law. It was debated in the House by Rep. Brian Turner (D). Turner was upset that council was given so may choices by his Republican colleagues.

      • Virginia Daffron

        Tim, speaking for my own article, I was trying to succinctly explain the main issues that voters would need to grasp to make an informed choice on the ballot question.

        I do write that “The law also establishes a Nov. 15 deadline for the city to draw the district lines.” I felt that the two methodologies, etc., was getting too far into the weeds of what is already a complex situation.

    • Rich

      You don’t mean to suggest that council or any independent commission or Picasso himself can draw the southernmost district, the one likelier to lean Republican, any way except the one laid out in the law. It will contain all of the city south of the parkway exactly to the point where city limits are only one census block wide. There’s no other legal way to draw it.

      • Drawing districts must follow some basic rules regarding population, geography and compactness, etc. There are only so many variations you can have while still conforming to general political mapmaking standards of fairness and equal representation.

        I don’t think there is any district at present that can put a Republican on city council and that’s certainly not the intent of municipal districts. If that were to happen though, it would be the result of a fair and democratic vote of people residing within the city’s expanding political boundaries.

        • bsummers

          I don’t think there is any district at present that can put a Republican on city council and that’s certainly not the intent of municipal districts.

          Bwa-ha-ha-ha! Yeah, sorry – the loudest voices pushing for this apparently didn’t get the memo that they should lie about what the intent is:

          “Council has gotten more progressive, more liberal and it’s out of hand”…“tsunami of liberal progressives”…“The Republican legislature will get it done.”
          Joe Dunn

          “In the case of Asheville, every member of this elected body leans to the left or far left.”…”The absence of anything remotely akin to a conservative voice has insulated them from meaningful challenge”…”We need voters to come out and voice their opposition to the mission of sustaining an eternal liberal governance cartel.”
          Carl Mumpower

        • Municipal district elections are about community representation, increased democracy, and decentralization in city politics.

        • Under a district elections system:

          Elections are more democratic and council membership more representative of the actual makeup of the city.

          Each vote carries more weight. Under the at-large election method, each vote cast goes towards a set of candidates running citywide. That vote competes with every other vote in the city. Under the district elections method, each vote within a district only competes with other votes in a closely delineated community of neighbors.

          Higher voter turnout is encouraged. With more focused community representation, and each vote carrying greater weight, more stakeholders are motivated to come to the polls.

          Campaigning is less expensive for candidates who would only have to campaign in limited areas rather than throughout the entire city. They can better focus on the constituents in their communities and their needs.

          Each district has a single point of contact for citizen input into local government, and an “ambassador” for their community, making members accountable to a discrete electorate.

          Campaigns can be more issue-focused and address real neighborhood concerns rather than being a city-wide popularity contest.

          Community-focused district elections encourage greater participation in the political process, by both potential candidates and voters.

          City council members elected by districts will have to work together to achieve consensus rather than impose their special interest pet issues on the whole city.

          The whole of city council represents city residents. One member will be elected from your community.

          S.B. 285 is law. The non-binding referendum on a charter amendment on district elections has no force and is a ruse to collect evidence for a taxpayer-funded lawsuit that city leaders hope will delay the inevitable. http://bit.ly/2uziBYt

          Explainer: http://bit.ly/2gGdh31

          • luther blissett

            This is just pablum.

            There are plenty of electoral systems that could produce a “more representative” result by Condorcet criteria. The single transferable vote method for ranked-preference elections would do the job.

            Districts only represent neighborhoods when they’re small enough to… represent actual neighborhoods. Otherwise, they simply recreate supposed city-wide disparities on a slightly smaller scale.

            The Baby Daca map considers Chunns Cove and Oteen to be part of the same “closely delineated community of neighbors.” It considers Kenilworth and Shiloh part of the same “closely delineated community of neighbors.” No amount of tinkering with the Daca-map will produce “closely delineated communit[ies] of neighbors” by dividing the city by six while retaining some degree of geographical contiguity. At best it might get you two or three, and everything else gets lumped into leftovers. This is why assigning City Council the task is a poison pill they choose not to swallow.

            The “spending” argument is also a red herring. Sheneika Smith managed to win through to the general election without spending much money at all. Jeremy Goldstein, not so much.

            Finally: if districts are such an undeniable boon, why didn’t Baby Daca mandate them for his beloved Hendersonville? I’m pretty sure H’ville has more than one “closely delineated community of neighbors.”

          • luther blissett

            Elaborating further: the insidiousness of the Baby Daca plan isn’t districting per se, it’s the faux rationale — given that no map will divide the city into six “closely delineated communit[ies] of neighbors” — and the imposition of single-member districts with a residency requirement. He could have proposed three districts electing two members each by ranked-preference, or two districts electing three members, but the aim here (as candidates have rightly identified) is to make City Council dysfunctional by assigning individual members to artificial fiefdoms where the largest or most politically active “communities of neighbors” within those districts are likely to hold sway.

          • bsummers

            More chaff meant to do one thing – distract people from the truth. This GOP effort to use the power in Raleigh to force a new elections regime on Asheville is a response to the fact that Republicans can’t get elected here (at least the ones they’ve been running recently). Gotta try to change the rules around for partisan gain – that’s all this is about, and everyone knows it.

            Although, you may be right about one thing. A public vote against forced district elections would be very persuasive to a judge. The very first thing mentioned by the judge that threw out the Asheville water seizure bill, was the overwhelming “No” vote on the referendum.

          • Rich

            Under the current electoral system, I have a say — albeit diluted — in electing each of the council members with powers over my taxes and property, or their opponents.

            Under the proposed system, I only have a say — albeit concentrated — in two: the mayor and my own district representative.

            This is sold to me as enhanced democracy.

          • Lulz

            LOL, you have no power Richly. You only have to pay. The real power resides with the TDA, hotels, developers, and special interest. And why you give them power over your property is insane. See if people have to break your misguided laws to rent out their homes to tourist all the while the city allows hotels to come in and build whatever, then you have no power.

          • Rich

            There’s always the power of deliberately misspelling people’s names, I guess.

        • Alan Ditmore

          Such standards need to be many times higher than current NC congressional district standards to be anywhere near acceptable!

  3. bsummers

    I love the complete abandonment by Carl and other Buncombe GOPers that this is about “geographic fairness in representation”. They’re coming right out and admitting that they’re attempting to use the power in Raleigh for partisan local advantage. They can’t get their own elected to Council without some sort of gerrymandering. Hey, here’s an idea – maybe run better candidates, Carl.

    Mumpower is thinking along similar lines. “We can look forward to city property owners funding a legal battle with Raleigh,” he says.

    Yeah thanks for that, GOPers. Add that to the million or so the City had to spend to keep the State from seizing their water system.

    Speaking of that, didn’t Carl pledge to quit the GOP if the General Assembly passed that bill to take Asheville’s water? Is backing out of that promise “motion over action,” Carl?

    “I expect political opportunism from the left, but to have members of my own party act with such indifference to our principles requires more than a passive response.”
    https://mountainx.com/blogwire/former_asheville_city_council_member_carl_mumpower_threatens_to_leave_gop_o/

    Like this principle, Carl?

    We Believe… the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people.
    http://nc.gop/about/

  4. NFB

    I always thought Republicans opposed Affirmative Action and quotas.

    Silly me.

  5. Carl Mumpower

    Mr. Summers – I owe you an apology on the water issue. My original public position was that if the Republican majority in Raleigh participated in successfully seizing Asheville’s water system, I would leave the party. My language in the letter was unclear. They were not successful, and thus I did not have to leave the party. As you know, it is not my pattern to equivocate, pander or please and I am not doing so now. I was careless. Again, my apology.

    On the flip side of the coin, please note that the original action to take control of Asheville’s water system was led by Democratic Senator Martin Nesbitt who was ironically supported by our current legislative representative – Susan Fisher. Republicans were merely trying to finish to bad works that were started by their opposition. I am glad that both parties failed, but I do find it interesting that you folks are so adept at beating on our side’s misjudgment while you totally ignore – and reelect – the fox and vixen who foolishly started it all.

    A final thought. Would everyone who thinks locking in a 7-0 progressive-liberal-socialist City Council monopoly is a good thing, please raise their hand? cm

    • luther blissett

      Dr Mumpower,

      I hope you’d accept, based on your own experience, that municipal politics does not map cleanly to ideological labels. If there’s a key political divide, it’s between establishment and anti-establishment. For a long while, most anti-establishment pressure came from CIBO, which largely pitted new(er) money against old(er) money. Then there was the Tea Party moment where candidates like Mark Cates thought “vote for me if you want to stick it to the city” was a winning strategy. (It wasn’t.) Right now, the anti-establishment momentum is with candidates and supporters who feel like the local gentry already exert plenty of power on their various boards, CIBO can still summon local pols to their Issues Breakfasts, and City Council is the only body left open to them.

      Districting is tangential to ideological makeup. I would be quite happy with a larger council that assigned seats by ranked preference, moved some of the powers of the City Manager back to elected officials, and had a distinct opposition group, but that’s not where we are.

      I suppose we should acknowledge former NC Rep. Tim Moffitt for that ban on involuntary annexation.

      • Carl Mumpower

        Mr. L.B. – May I disagree on your suggestion our divide tracks to establishment and anti-establishment? It’s clearly a conservative-liberal separation and in my view the absence of alternative perspective on our 7-0 council is indefensible. Monopoly is never a good thing and district elections at least allow the possibility for a conservative voice. I applaud Mr. Moffitt, Mr. Appadoca, and Mr. Edwards for their courage buttons. They were uniquely willing to take the heat for challenging a remarkably unquestioned 7-0 monopoly in a city which speaks to diversity, but walks toward conformity.

        • luther blissett

          Dr M, we’ll have to agree to differ on that, as our ideological meters are differently calibrated.

          When Byron Greiner (a registered Dem, according to the official record) stands up before City Council on behalf of a Florida-based hotelier and argues for Buncombe HHS to be relocated from downtown because of “undesirables”, or when Bob Oast and Lou Bissette join forces against City Council on behalf of the Embassy Suites developer, that’s not a conventional conservative-liberal divide. Nor was the divide between candidates in this year’s council primary.

          The old assumption that cities should be governed by local worthies (or Worleys) no longer carries the same force in Asheville. Those people still exert significant power through status and wealth and their presence on the area’s many boards and commissions. There are other powers vested in city staff that have often deserved better scrutiny. In that context, I’d argue that the realignment of City Council is a symptom of broader issues of governance, where elected positions are increasingly seen as a check on the penumbra of government, where city boards like P&Z interact with quasi-governmental bodies like the TDA and independent entities like the Chamber and Downtown Association.

          Many of the people who you’d consider conservatives live or have relocated beyond the city limits. Thanks to Mr Moffitt, they do not fear annexation and the terrible burden of city taxes. The flipside of that deal should be relinquishing influence on city elections, though this doesn’t apply if you have a friendly state senator in Hendersonville and a city-averse legislature. I don’t doubt that the perceived city — the commuter city — which extends into Arden and Candler and up the Leicester Highway and so forth is more conservative than the actual city, especially if you’re living just inside the city limits, but that doesn’t change the lines of jurisdiction.

          • Carl Mumpower

            Mr. L.B. – yes – our perspectives differ. Especially in view of the reality that most of the gentrification of Asheville has occurred under the watch of the progressive super-majority. As one who voted against 3 of 4 downtown mega hotel projects, I have a personal understanding of what having a conservative view can do to right a so ship clearly out of balance.

          • bsummers

            And yet Carl, I recall that you and fellow Republican Joe Dunn were all in favor of selling off a huge chunk of Pack Square park to the Grove Park Inn for luxury condos back in 2003. That would have been a mega-gentrification of Asheville’s largest downtown green space. Luckily the two of you & fellow conservative Jim Westbrook didn’t get away with it.

          • Alan Ditmore

            There is no such thing as an establishment progressive since progressivism is anti-establishment by definition. As long as liberal elite zoners have power in Asheville then you know progressive leftists are not in control. All policy is ideology, the disputes in Asheville are over policy then they are ideological by definition. Just because a bunch of LINOs mouth one ideology and implement another does not remove ideology from the dispute.

      • Lulz

        LOL and yet no vocal opposition to the annexation ban. In case you haven’t a clue, no one in the county wanted in to the insanity of instant double taxation for absolutely nothing in return. And you can’t use the water as an excuse to immediately annex when the fees on the bills pay for all of it. Or do they? LOL, scam. But we for the poor lulz. By making people poorer.

        • luther blissett

          “In case you haven’t a clue, no one in the county wanted in to the insanity of instant double taxation for absolutely nothing in return.”

          You’re the one who said city taxpayers should be getting a discount on their county taxes. Either county taxpayers who live just outside the city limits while spending their days in the city are free-riders, diverting resources that should be spent on filling potholes outside city residents’ homes, or they’re the smartest people in WNC and deserve praise. You’ve managed to argue both. Pick one.

          • Lulz

            LOL but that also included unifying alll the various agencies that are a bastion of duplicity. But that would mean lots of unemployed people. Can’t have that now can we leftist. So we do what we always do. Tax others to death so many worthless government employees can have jobs. And pay the actual people that do the work nothing.

    • bsummers

      Carl

      Believe me, you really don’t owe me an apology. But I’m afraid that I can’t accept your backtracking on that earlier promise as being “unclear”. It was very clear:

      “Therefore, should my fellow Republicans in Raleigh chose to support this destructive, unprincipled, and unprecedented legislative action, I will take the only step I have in hand to express my concern for that act of misplaced integrity and resign from the Republican Party.”
      https://mountainx.com/blogwire/former_asheville_city_council_member_carl_mumpower_threatens_to_leave_gop_o/

      You clearly meant you would quit if they voted to support the McGrady/Moffitt bill, not if it eventually passed judicial scrutiny. What’s the value in saying ‘I will only oppose your crime if you get away with it’? Nothing, that’s what. You meant what you said when you made that pledge – it just became inconvenient to follow through on it. Please don’t expect us to go along with the pretense that you didn’t really mean what you said.

      But anyway, thanks for confirming that the latest strongarming from your fellows in Raleigh is about partisan political gain. You and people who agree with you think that City Council should have more Republican members, and you think district elections forced on Asheville voters by Raleigh is your best shot. The canard about this being about geographic fairness is pretty thin, isn’t it? It’s about affirmative action for Republicans who can’t get elected otherwise.

      • Carl Mumpower

        No acceptance needed Mr. Summer. I just needed to be sincere with my script. You do with that and your own script as serves you best. Thank you, cm

    • Alan Ditmore

      Council has no progressives or leftists, only 7 liberal elitist ZONERS. Districts are as likely to bring a progressive to council as a conservative. This would be great for both unless poisoned by gerrymandering, which I fear enough to remain undecided.

  6. chad

    District elections are a terrible idea because the voters in each district will only have one Council person that they can lobby for redress of their grievances or implementation of policies they are seeking.

    as it stands now, if I have a pet issue I can go to anyone on the city Council and try to sway their opinion, or simply put it on their radar and as a constituent I trust and know that they are going to work on this issue for me

    if we have district elections, and I want my preferred issues addressed… The only city Council person that I have any leverage to work with is the single Council member who represents my neighborhood.

    The most important reason I think people should vote no on this is simple…. I live in West Asheville, and thus will only be able to vote for the West Asheville Council person… But I own a business in South Asheville and I pay very close attention to South Asheville issues for this reason. Under district elections I’ll have no sway, say, input, or leverage with the South Asheville Council person as I am not one of their constituents.

    The success of my city is very important to me…. the success of my neighborhood is very important to me… The success of the neighborhood where i’ve invested my life’s savings is very important to me…
    For this reason i’ll vote NO on districts. I want the FULL city council accountable to me. Why vote to reduce your representation from 6 council members to one? it doesn’t make sense!

    • Lulz

      And how does council represent you now? Unless you own a hotel, are located in the RAD, or live in Montford/North Asheville you are not even on the radar.

    • Rich

      I’m amazed that anyone is eager to give up their leverage over the entire council. It takes four votes to pass anything!

      • bsummers

        Ultraconservatives don’t have any intention of trying to work with Democratic Council members, even the centrist ones. It’s not about a rational new approach to representation. It’s about screwing things up for everyone in the hopes that they can jam a Republican into office who can’t get elected fair and square.

        • Huhsure

          That’s literally _all_ it is about. “Screwing things up” — pitting incumbents against incumbents in absurdly gerrymandered districts, and “jam a Republican into office” because its clear that even with Republicans running, they are simply not attractive to the majority of Asheville.

      • Lulz

        LOL, what leverage? Again, where and who does council represent? The TDA? Hotels? RAD? Yep.

        We went from leaf collection to leaf bags lulz. And that money “saved” is going where? To another Wanda Greed?

      • Alan Ditmore

        However minorites can and do block legislation quite often.

  7. Carl Mumpower

    District elections are about adding diverse points of view to our governing body. Speaking from experience, an independent voice can (1) Keep the majority honest (2) Keep the lights on reality (3) Challenge habituation (4) and Provide alternative thinking. Hold up a coin – looking from just one angle of view and you will see only one side. Having eyes on both sides makes us smarter, more resilient and safer. I’m fascinated with how many arguments people can create in support of a monopoly- and it’s much more complex that just having a bunch of happy campers working together. Besides, when has our 7-0 progressive bunch ever been happy campers? They may wear the same blue uniform, but they are rarely unified or happy.

    • Lulz

      LOL Carl, you honestly think these leftist want to promote differing thought and viewpoints? After all without like minded fools such as them, we couldn’t have a bond in a city that has seen rapid growth year over year and yet REFUSES to charge those who are making all the money the UPKEEP. Why then there would be no need for bonds. Or higher taxes.

      • Alan Ditmore

        Good attitude Lulz, but who exactly should they be charging? and how?

    • bsummers

      Carl, I love how you keep cheerfully undermining the official excuse for using the power in Raleigh to force district elections on Asheville. Apodaca, Edwards, McGrady and virtually all the other GOPers pushing this stick to the talking point that it’s about giving South Asheville a voice on Council. They haven’t had a Council member for years, they don’t get their issues heard, etc. etc.

      But you toss out the ‘politically correct’ script. You don’t give a dang about ‘under-represented’ South Asheville. You just come right out and say that one political party should use State power to manipulate local elections for partisan advantage. That’s hilarious. Wildly unprincipled, but still hilarious. You go, Carl.

      As Chairman of the Buncombe GOP, I’m pretty sure your comments will be featured prominently in the City’s lawsuit, just like Don Yelton’s comments on race were featured in the lawsuit that killed Voter ID. Go Carl Go!!

      • Carl Mumpower

        It’s always pleasant to provide my fellowman with moments of joy. Back in the real world – all one needs to do on the district elections issue is ponder the inherent limitations of a perpetual 7-0 monopoly. cm

        • bsummers

          “Monopoly”? You yourself just said they were “rarely unified”.

        • bsummers

          Besides Carl, I hate to break this to you – but we already had a test of a South Asheville Republican vs. a South Asheville Democrat. Vijay Kapoor cleaned Pratik Bhakta’s clock in the precincts that would presumably make up a South AVL district.

          Maybe Pratik’s choice to hide the party he belongs to backfired.

          • Lulz

            And yet what does Kapoor bring to the table? Just another government cretin with absolutely no private experience. And even asks why so few bid the RADTIP. Cause no one is dumb enough to deal with this city.

            Morons in Asheville who vote for the same deserve the same.

          • luther blissett

            If I had that much contempt for the city’s population and government, and no real desire to change it, I’d move.

          • Lulz

            I need to change? You mean that I should conform and shut up while people like Wanda Greed make millions and leave others with the bill? LOL, the insane.

          • luther blissett

            You’ve never expressed a single positive thing about Asheville in your comments here, only grievances. You apparently don’t believe it can be fixed because the voters and those they choose are all either crooks or elites or cronies. You’re hoping for a deus ex machina, and it ain’t gonna come.

            Nobody is forced to live somewhere they hate if they have the means and motivation to go somewhere else. That’s the story of America. If this were a marriage, no one would begrudge you getting a divorce.

    • luther blissett

      That’s still a non sequitur. It’s like saying “psychology is about fighting cancer.” You might be able to help a client quit smoking, but you’re not ultimately responsible for whether they end up with a tumor. The only guarantee that comes with district elections is that it will delineate a bunch of fake “communities”.

      You appear to be looking for something like a partisan list system with seats allocated proportionately (though you opposed the switch to partisan elections ten years ago, and were backed up by the subsequent referendum result) or direct appointment along the lines of county election boards. While I’d be fine having the charter amended to guarantee you a seat — every court needs a jester — I’m not sure it’s small-d democratic.

  8. Alan Ditmore

    I want districts in principle, and the proposed map I saw does not look gerrymandered, but I fear gerrymandering greatly and know that an “independent commission” is an oxymoron. I strongly suspect they are conspiring to gerrymander later, making me undecided. Ungerrymandered districts would help progressives as much as conservatives, both at the expense of the North Asheville elitist liberal zoner machine.

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