Moffitt, Gantt spar over district elections

Buncombe County Board Chair David Gantt and Statehouse Rep. Tim Moffitt exchanged sharp words over Moffitt’s recent proposal to expand the Board of Commissioners from five to seven members and mandate district representation in place of the current at-large elections. The two elected officials spoke at this morning’s April 1 meeting of the Council of Independent Business Owners at the Biltmore Square Mall.

The bill, HB 47, would establish three commissioner districts, with the same boundaries as the county’s three Statehouse districts. Each district would choose two commissioners, who would have to reside within the district; the board chair would still be elected by all the county’s voters.

In his pitch for the proposal, Moffitt – a Republican – emphasized that it would “give people a clear point of contact” to express their concerns on issues that are important to their part of the county. He also noted the bill’s possible political impact to the board, which is currently made up five Democrats. Because candidates would have less ground to cover, “it would would give candidates of moderate means a fair chance of winning,” he said.

However, he denied that it was a partisan move designed to give Republicans a better chance of earning a seat.

Meanwhile, Gantt asserted that “the commissioners and everyone I’ve talked to is completely against this bill.”

He argued that the change would limit democracy and contribute to provincialism.

“You’re losing your right to vote for the majority of commissioners,” he declared. “You’re not going to be able to vote for people who spend your money.”

Conscious of the recent controversies over commissioners’ pay and of the fiscally conservative nature of the attendees, Gantt was also careful to point out the bill’s additional costs: Taxpayers would have to pay for the salaries and benefits of two additional representatives, he said.

“It will increase the cost of county government,” he maintained, adding that he “didn’t see any benefit to it.”

To further make his case, he pointed to stats that seem to show Buncombe’s system is in line with other counties in the state.

He explained that 60 counties out of the state’s 100 have five member boards, including Durham, and Union, which have comparable population numbers to Buncombe. He also noted that both of those counties employ similar election systems as Buncombe. Only 12 of the state’s counties have a system similar to the one Moffitt is proposing, he said.

Pictured Left: David Gantt; Right: Tim Moffitt
Photo by Margaret Williams

About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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13 thoughts on “Moffitt, Gantt spar over district elections

  1. Breaking news: David Gantt has his panties in a wad because he won’t be able to pack the board with his cronies any more.

  2. spoutinghorn

    Since when is David Gantt concerned about the costs of Government? This is coming from a guy who thinks he’s entitled to an Ipad courtesy of the Taxpayer.

  3. Doug Sahm

    Tim Moffitt represents everything that is wrong with politics.

  4. bill smith

    [i]Well, that’s insightful. [/i]

    Makes one ponder the usefulness of some posts. Especially in light of the various posted ‘commenting policies’. Of course, if they moderate Tom, then he gets to scream ‘censorship’.

  5. sharpleycladd

    It’s pure, partisan politics, designed to get more Republicans onto the Commission. If Moffitt would be honest about this, I’d have significantly less contempt for him and his party.

  6. aces&8s;

    very easy to see which side MtnX is on…

    Gantt declared this, Gantt asserted that, Gantt, Gantt…Gantt!

    How does someone lose the chance for democracy when the can vote for their neighbor instead of someone that could care less about them?

  7. Jeff Harwood

    I’m a Democrat and I agree with Moffit to a point on this one. My question would be; why can’t we maintain the 5 and arrange it to where they are elected in districts?

  8. Pretty typical of GOP tactics intended to split the electorate into tiny interest groups: black vs. white vs. brown, gay vs. straight, county vs. city, industry vs. workers and workers vs. immigrants. The more they convince people that they don’t have interests in common, the more fear they can engender about “them” (whoever them is), the more they can turn their efforts to benefiting the wealthy and trashing the rest of us.

    Moffit ran on a small government platform, and one of the first things he personally initiates is to grow government. What a hoot!

  9. How does someone gain democracy by being asked to vote for the same number of people who will then wield less influence on the board?

  10. J

    I wish we had City Council members who were more concerned about running the city than they were about politics.

    In case they hadn’t noticed, John Boyle did a piece in the paper today speaking of Asheville’s poor reputation as a place to do business. It seems there is plenty to work on at the city level without diving into partisan affairs.

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