Bothwell apologizes for repeat robo-calls, but defends method

[Editor’‘s note: The original version of this post had a headline that said the candidate “will stick with method.” It has now been changed to say that he “defends method.”]

In what may be a first for Asheville City Council campaigns, candidate Cecil Bothwell has deployed robo-calls. In an announcement this morning, he apologized to voters that may have gotten repeat calls, but touted the method as low on cost and environmental impact.

The calls, some of which went out this morning around 9 a.m., invited listeners to Bothwell’s campaign kick-off party this Friday at the Grey Eagle.

In the call, Bothwell says, “Hey, I don’t like robo-calls, but there’s no way to call 20,000 folks at one time. If you love Asheville the way I do then we can work together to build an even better community. Better for today’s citizens, better opportunities for our children and a more secure future.”

The calls are paid for by Bothwell’s campaign fund.

In an e-mail about two hours later, Bothwell apologized to those who may have been called twice.

“I’m still trying to figure out how that system works,” the message reads. “And, yes, I know that recorded messages can be annoying. We’re experimenting with the calls because people tend to ignore city elections, and getting out the vote is urgent.”

The announcement also defends the method.

“Each of those calls cost the campaign 7 cents. There is no way to compete with that cost with direct mail and no way to match the outreach with live phone banking. In addition, direct mail, which all of the ‘experts’ say is the best way to reach voters, wastes an enormous amount of paper, not to mention a cost that is about 10 times the phone call. For a grass roots, low cost, environmentally sensitive campaign, it seems like a good thing to try. Low cost. No paper waste.”

Buncombe County Board of Elections Director Trena Parker said it may be the first time robo-calls have been used in a City Council campaign.

“I don’t ever remember the topic coming up before, though I can’t for certain say a campaign has never used it,” Parker told Xpress.

— David Forbes, staff writer


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23 thoughts on “Bothwell apologizes for repeat robo-calls, but defends method

  1. voting AGAINST Bothwell

    NO excuse for anyone or any cause to waste our time with robocalls!

    I’ll be voting against (or at least not ‘for’) ANY candidate who employs robocalls.

    Hey, Cecil, what part of “UNacceptable” do you not understand?

  2. Matt Howard

    I just listened to the one I got.
    I dont like robo-calls either. But eh, after all the ones I got from W. the one from Cecil is almost like a breath of fresh air.

  3. John Smolkin

    That’s OK Cecil. I understand and am thankful you don’t need to go looking for more money to do it the direct mail method. The fewer the “debts” after the election, the better. I want you to be 100% for the people, and low campaign costs helps ensure that. Good luck. I will be voting for you.

  4. Yep, Lokel, typical. Trying to contact voters with my message. Trying not to waste the money of the voters (a.k.a. taxpayers) who have donated to my campaign. Trying not to be unduly wasteful of resources. Trying to give away free food and free entertainment in hopes that some folks who wouldn’t otherwise hear about the campaign will give me a few minutes to explain my take on responsive, accountable government.

    Typical politician.

    Guilty as charged.

  5. Gordon Smith

    Innovation and experimentation in a campaign? Sounds good to me. I got robo-called, too, and I liked that Cecil was trying something new in an attempt to rein in costs and get people involved.

  6. Brian Sarzynski

    Cecil Bothwell is literally putting his money where his mouth is. His campaign website spells out his deeply rooted commitment to the environment and fiscal responsibility. Take a minute to check out his site:

    Once you’ve read up on his stands you’ll realize the robo-calls are a logical first step in turning ideas into action.

    That’s leadership.

  7. Piffy!

    my guess is ”voting against bothwell” wasnt going to vote for him anyway.

    or even remember to vote, for that matter.

  8. TokyoTaos

    Yes, a robocall inviting me to a free party at the Grey Eagle,

    What is the world coming to!

  9. travelah

    Robo-calling is usually an irritant to those receiving the calls and if a candidate states they don’t like them but do them regardless, well, they are pretty much the typical political hypocrite. What happened to beating the pavement and introducing yourself to the voter? Of course those supporting the candidate will continue to do so and those opposed will continue to oppose.
    Robo-calls, regardless of party or candidate, are almost always unidentified on caller ID and can easily be ignored.

  10. TokyoTaos

    It’s also I think a matter of which annoyance you prefer. Yes, robocalls can be irritating (unless they’re from a candidate you like admittedly) but I also find mailings (aka junk mail) highly annoying. Waste of paper, waste of gas, more money a candidate has to raise thus more likely he/she is to chip away at their own integrity in order to raise more $$$, etc. Unfortunately the only way a candidate can get the word out with the way our political system is set up at currently is to, well, annoy us sometimes.

  11. Well, Travelah, I do go door to door, and I go to house parties, and meetings, and the rest. But what happened is size. My robo call reached about 11,000 A-list voters in one day. Going door-to-door, if I average 10 minutes walking and talking per visit (a very conservative figure), would take about 230 eight hour days. There are about 116 days remaining before the primary. And that assumes that I only visit likely voters. The phone list I used was Dems and Unaffiliateds who voted in recent city elections. Given that there are something like 45,000 registered voters in the city (an educated guess, I don’t have that figure), I would have to spend 920 eight hour days to reach the same 11,000 by going door-to-door. And I stated both my objection and my reason for using the calls anyway in the second sentence of my call (after informing the recipients that I wasn’t selling anything, simply inviting them to a free party.) Sometimes we are faced with choosing between bad and worse, and choosing bad isn’t automatically hypocritical, it’s living in the real world.

  12. The Piffster

    I don’t mind a robo call if it is short, sweet, and to the point. I’m with John above. The less money spent during a campaign the less favors owed once someone is in office.

  13. Zanna

    Hey Cecil, my only complaint was that the call came at 9:30am on a morning where I was trying to sleep in! But still I can’t argue with the efficiency of it, and after the last presidential election I’d come to accept it. It’s not nearly as annoying as the crammer calls I get from credit card and insurance companies.

    Travelah, you can’t seriously suggest that it would be less intrusive for someone to knock on my door in person? The phone doesn’t see if I’m still in my bathrobe. If I don’t feel like listening to a robo-call I can simply hang up- but there’s really no polite way to slam a door in someone’s face, and not much option to simply ignore the knocking until they go away. There’s no ‘visitor ID’ device on my front door. Given that I live in a horrible neighborhood I feel actual fear whenever a stranger walks onto my porch. I would much, MUCH rather receive a phone call. Perhaps that’s why “beating the pavement” is less favored these days.

  14. J

    The man who would not take the time to learn how properly program in the phone numbers into the robo-call machine wants to help run the city?

    Gordon thinks this is new and innovative? Oh boy.


    You say that there are roughly 45,000 voters in this city. Your robo call machine can reach 11,000 voters in one day, at a reduced costs to the campaign. That means you should be able to reach every Asheville voter in about 4 days, yet you only target unafilliateds and Democrats.

    Do you really expect to just not get a single Republican vote, or is your not reaching out to the other side indicative of how you want to govern, should you be elected?

  15. TokyoTaos


    do you really think registered Republicans would appreciate a robocall inviting them to a campaign kick-off party for a non-Republican candidate?

    My guess is they would be be none too pleased.

  16. brebro

    But I don’t even live in Buncombe County, much less the Asheville city limits. I don’t see how calling registered, but ineligible voters like me can help the cause out, even if they do it twice in one day.

  17. Ah, me. If Brebro isn’t registered in Asheville or isn’t on our list of campaign supporters (who comprise virtually all of the folks who got two calls by mistake), then that call (or calls) were wildly misplaced.

    However, people outside the city are more than welcome to help the cause out (and would have been welcome to help themselves to the food last night, along with about 400 other people). I regularly contribute a few bucks to candidates in other counties or states when they espouse causes I can get behind. (Like Larry Kissell who won a U.S. House seat last November-NC 8th District.) So, Brebro, we’d be happy to accept a donation at:

  18. brebro

    Well, I don’t know how I got on the list, then, but no harm done.

    If is the place to send donations I suppose any supporter could send donations to as long as is the place to go donate. I know that if I were inclined to support, then is the place I would certainly go, but I feel I must remain neutral so as not to unfairly use my Oprah-like influence to sway large amounts of voters toward one candidate or another. It’s the only fair thing to do, for all the candidates, including

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