Four City Council members voted to switch Asheville’s electoral system to partisan voting, but only one — Bryan Freeborn — found himself behind the mic on a talk-radio show as the Let Asheville Vote petition drive came to a close.
Critics of the switch have thrown their support behind the petition, which ultimately garnered close to 6,200 signatures (a minimum of 5,000 was required to force a referendum on the matter; whether the Board of Elections will certify that that number of signers were registered Asheville voters, as required, remains to be seen). Many of those critics have taken Freeborn and his colleagues to task for changing the system.
So passions were running high yesterday afternoon, as LAV raced to get the petitions in before the 5 p.m. deadline and Freeborn appeared as a guest on WWNC-570’s Take a Stand! with Matt Mittan, a popular local talk show.
Freeborn’s hour on the program — click here to listen to it — provided both intense dialogue and gripping political theater, as the Council member, who’s up for reelection this fall, faced off with one angry caller after another (including no less than former Council member and mayoral candidate Joe Dunn). At one point, Mittan even persuaded Freeborn to sign the petition, which Freeborn had previously refused to do.
Throughout the program, Mittan fielded updates on the petition drive, which reached a frenzy in its final minutes. Freeborn, who has said in recent weeks that he didn’t believe there was a groundswell of public opposition to partisan voting, congratulated the petitioners and said their efforts have served as “a valuable exercise in democracy.”
— Jon Elliston, news editor