It’s the morning of July 31, and the Buncombe County Board of Elections is still scrambling to process every last signature on the Let Asheville Vote petition, which would force a referendum on the issue of partisan elections. If the board finds by the end of the day today that petitioners collected enough valid signatures, Asheville City Council’s June decision to switch to partisan elections will be placed on hold, and this year’s elections will most likely revert back to nonpartisan.
If partisan elections do stay in place, however, independent candidates will have to gather 2,300 signatures by Sept. 21 to be counted in the race.
For Lindsey Simerly, an independent candidate, gaining the requisite number of signatures to earn her spot on the November ballot will be no easy feat, especially when she plans to spend next to nothing on her campaign. In her words, “Campaign spending is one of the most wasteful uses of money there is.” And to be true to her environmental ideals, she plans to make her campaign as paperless as possible: “It is a direct contradiction to print thousands of leaflets advertising how environmental you are,” she argues. “We are not doing this.”
Running under the campaign slogan, “Resistance Now! No Compromise in Defense of Our Communities and Our Land!” there is no mystery as to where Simerly stands on development. “Our mountains have been under attack by developers who do not respect the environment or their neighbors,” she says in a prepared statement. “We need a moratorium on development … so our city has time to come up with a holistic plan for growth in Asheville.” Other key issues for her campaign include affordable housing and social justice.
The Buncombe County Board of Elections says that under the present system, there is no official roster for independents. Until unaffiliated candidates have submitted their bundles of signatures, they’re on their own when it comes to getting the word out. But depending on what happens at the Board of Elections, that all could change very soon. The board is scheduled to meet at 4 p.m. today. Stay tuned for an update.
— Rebecca Bowe, editorial assistant