Asheville City Council

“I expect you’ll be hearing from me soon.”

— outgoing Council member Brian Peterson

Outgoing Council member Brian Peterson had a message for his soon-to-be ex-colleagues: Expect to see him during future public-comment sessions.

“I love this city, and I love democracy,” Peterson proclaimed after newly elected Council members Jan Davis and Brownie Newman had taken their seats. Even the sometimes endless-seeming public hearings couldn’t dull his love of the process of government, said Peterson. “Not telling people what I think, but hearing what they think. I expect you’ll be hearing from me soon.”

The Dec. 2 organizational meeting — held to formally install new members of the city’s governing body and to recognize re-elected Council member Terry Bellamy — played to a full house, as city residents filled all available seats to witness the ceremony.

With Davis, Newman and Bellamy sworn in, the new Council passed resolutions thanking Peterson and Jim Ellis for their service. Some added words of their own to the two departing Council members.

“I appreciate you as a person, a colleague and a friend,” Bellamy told Peterson in an emotional, teary goodbye. To Ellis, she said, “I really appreciate your support.”

Council member Joe Dunn called Ellis “a pleasure to work with.” To Peterson, with whom he often disageed, Dunn observed, “You always said what you thought, and you stood your ground.”

Mayor Charles Worley presented both Ellis and Peterson with plaques and framed copies of the resolutions complimenting their work both on Council and on various boards and committees.

With those niceties out of the way, only one point of procedure remained: electing a new vice mayor. When a new Council comes on board every two years, the vice mayor steps down and Council members choose a new one. Although it’s primarily a ceremonial role, the vice mayor does preside over Council meetings in the mayor’s absence.

An awkward silence followed Worley’s request for nominations. Then Davis made his first motion, nominating Council member Carl Mumpower. Dunn seconded the motion, and a unanimous vote by Council named Mumpower the city’s new vice mayor.

“This is a new responsibility,” Mumpower said later. “I intend to take it seriously.”

As the brief meeting broke up, Council members new and old mingled with the citizenry, shaking hands and accepting good wishes.

“I’ve got a lot of ideas,” Newman told Xpress, adding, “I don’t want to be the kind of Council member that is just responding.”

Davis, meanwhile, said he’s looking forward to getting on with the real work of a Council member. “I’m glad the campaign and months of waiting are over,” he declared. “I’m ready for us to work.”

Shifting the schedule

In a nod to the holidays, City Council adjusted its December meeting schedule. There will be a work session on Tuesday, Dec. 9 and a formal session on Tuesday, Dec. 16. The Dec. 23 and Dec. 30 meetings have been canceled.

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