Register this: Dems elect Drew Reisinger to be Buncombe’s next Register of Deeds ***UPDATED***

The heated race to be Asheville’s next Register of Deeds came to a head on Wednesday, Feb. 23, when the Executive Democratic Committee elected Drew Reisinger to succeed Otto DeBruhl.

In a second round of voting that lasted late into the night, Reisinger squeaked out a victory over DeBruhl’s long-time Assistant Register of Deeds JoAnn Morgan. Reisinger garnered 53 percent of the vote compared to Morgan’s 47 percent.

Buncombe Democratic Party Chair Charles Carter was eliminated after the first round of voting, when he received 20 percent of the vote compared to Reisinger’s 41 percent and Morgan’s 39 percent.

We’ll have a full report in the March 2 issue of Xpress.

For more background on the race, read our Feb. 8 article, “Doing the Deeds,” or the blog post below, (originally published Feb 22).

The heated race to be Asheville’s next register of deeds comes to a head on Wednesday, Feb. 23, when the Executive Democratic Committee meets to elect a successor to Otto DeBruhl.

When DeBruhl announced his retirement Jan. 31 after 32 years on the job, he proposed that Assistant Register of Deeds JoAnn Morgan take the helm, declaring, “There is not a more qualified Register of Deeds in the state of North Carolina than JoAnn.” But on Feb. 3, Drew Reisinger announced his candidacy for the job, and just a few days ago, Democratic Party Chair Charles Carter followed suit.

In an interview with Xpress, Carter came out of the gate swinging, saying he had better management skills than both of his opponents.

“I’m much more of a team builder,” he asserted. “I think I’ve got the talent to come in and be the steady hand at the wheel and make sure that we’re continuing to deliver services to the public as well as really developing that office.

“I’ve never seen Drew manage anything more than Patsy’s campaign,” Carter continued. “I saw some of the effect on Gordon Smith‘s campaign, but I didn’t see much more than that. And JoAnn, I’ve never seen her manage, because she’s always been Otto’s assistant and just kind of executed what he did.”

Carter also criticized Reisinger’s statement (posted on his website) that his “first order of business will be to sit down with the county manager and commissioners to discuss an immediate pay cut in my salary.” With an annual salary of $128,850, DeBruhl was one of the highest-paid registers in the state, with one of the largest, most highly compensated staffs.

However, Carter asserts that “it’s a little bit of a political stunt just to say ‘I’m going to lower my salary.’ Because you don’t consider the ripple effects throughout the entire department. And that’s a little bit reckless.”

The former state senator and current owner of Mountain Java coffeehouse on Merrimon Avenue said he favors a more holistic approach, noting that the county is studying every department’s pay structure in an effort to cut the budget by 7 to 10 percent to deal with the current economic challenges.

“I think you have to look at the entire department and make sure you’re allowing for bonuses and incentivizing your employees,” Carter explained. “Because if you walk in and cut your pay, what does that do to the other pays below you? What does that do to incentivize the workers to deliver for the people of Buncombe County?”

In his pitch to committee members —  178 Buncombe County precinct chairs and vice chairs, Democratic elected officials and state leaders — Carter’s been highlighting his success as the head of the county party in last year’s tough election cycle.

“In the middle of a Republican landslide, we did very well in Buncombe,” he noted. “And I think they saw that leadership. They saw what I was able to do with the party that they love.”

But Carter’s not the only candidate touting their political talents. Reisinger notes that he’s fresh from managing Patsy Keever’s successful Statehouse campaign, and has worked to elect City Council member Smith, Congressman Heath Shuler and President Barack Obama. And Morgan, in a previous statement, said that she was instrumental in DeBruhl’s eight successful campaigns, as well as her own winning run for City Council in 1975.

Proposed rules for tomorrow’s special election call for a secret ballot, with voters having a weighted say depending on their position and precinct. For example, a vote by a precinct chair representing a heavily Democratic precinct will carry more weight than a vote by a precinct chair representing a less Democratic precinct. To win, a candidate must get a clear majority. If, on the first vote, none of the candidates exceed the fifty-percent threshold, the candidate receiving the least amount of votes will be forced to drop out and the Executive Committee will hold a re-vote among the remaining two.

That could make for “a very long night,” said Carter.


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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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26 thoughts on “Register this: Dems elect Drew Reisinger to be Buncombe’s next Register of Deeds ***UPDATED***

  1. J

    Drew’s statement that he will cut his own salary is somewhat arrogant. Who is he to say that the County Commissioners would have definitely offered him that salary, especially considering his minimalist experience. It’s also somewhat of an overstatement to say he worked to elect Heath and Barry – so did everyone who picked up a phone on their behalf.

    I know Drew is popular because he’s in the all boys club, and I don’t doubt he’s intelligent, but Charles or Jo Ann would make formidable selections. Being a state senator is no easy chore, nor is the work that JoAnn has done over the years.

  2. Tenacious D.

    Tell it like it is, brother! That’s the kind of spunk it will take to hold this office in 2012. The GOP will pounce on the other two.

  3. J

    Is anyone really surprised? The Buncombe Dems turned their backs on experience and proven leadership.

    That’s what happens when Executive Committee Members like Tom Sullivan carry such heavily weighted votes at the expense of those precinct leaders in the county.

  4. Not Me

    Well this sure makes it easier for me to vote rep. in 2012. A damn camp counselor with no experience of ANY kind taking this office. What a Joke this boy is. Wonder if he can even find his office? Come on Dems, you could have done better than this. JoAnn was the ONLY choice over the flappy happy business killing Carter. Buncombe County continues to go down the crapper.

  5. J, you are misinformed. Precinct leaders have the preponderance of votes, based on the delegate count in the party (which in turn is based on the voting totals for the Democratic candidate for governor in the last election). So, Precinct 3, for example, had 15 votes. That means the chair and vice-chair each cast 7.5 votes.

    As for Drew Reisinger’s experience, he has run campaigns in the last 9 election cycles and won every campaign he ran. He has organized thousands of volunteers and handled large campaign budgets.

    He won this election by out-organizing his opponents and pledging to demand that his pay be cut 40 percent from Mr. deBruhl’s — explaining that he wanted to free up enough money to hire one more teacher. If County pay scales are an issue in the next election (and who can doubt it?) he just jumped ahead of the pack.

    Carter called that a campaign stunt, and Morgan claimed that it couldn’t be done. But the County Manager said it was no problem for an elected official to accept a lower paycheck.

  6. J

    Sour grapes still have seeds, Frostillicus. They turn into sour plants – or maybe even right leaning ones.

  7. Margaret Williams

    Hmm, please keep in mind our basic policy: Criticize the ideas, not the people. That is, keep the discussion civil.

  8. Michael Muller

    Drew Reisinger will excel at this job as he excelled at everything else he’s done — and a more hardworking, honest, intelligent, and caring person you could not meet.

  9. Michael Traister

    Congratulations Drew…no one else works harder and you deserve it!

  10. J

    Thank you Cecil for giving me a chance to clarify my criticism. The votes were weighted by how democratic the precinct is – in other words, this is another example of Asheville calling the shots for the county. Various “cool club” members don’t seem to care much for how the county residents think; even though the county can out vote the city. Every wonder why the Buncombe Reps voted for the Sullivan Acts? Because the county controls the votes.

    Re: the pay issue. Another way of stating it is that Drew demanded a $70,000 a year paycheck; far more than the average nationally or for the county. If only all starting jobs paid $70k. It’s just sad to see good people dissolve into campaign ploys.

    Just a neutral observer’s take.

  11. Politics Watcher

    Do new hires come into county positions at the old salary of someone who has been in the position for many years? Or does the new person get a “starting” salary based on his/her experience and qualifications? In most government jobs, doesn’t the new hire, without experience, drop back to the basic level for that position? Is there no range of salaries for any given position in county government, based on education, experience, and years of service?

  12. Aaron Sarver

    Seems like Reisinger winning the ROD race required a fair amount of leadership and organization skills in and of itself.

    At a time when the GOP leadership in Raleigh seems intent on cutting education funding, his pledge to reduce an inflated salary was a savvy move.

  13. Jake

    Thank you, MtnX, for covering last night’s election. I didn’t see any other news organizations there, and was glad that the citizens of Buncombe had at least MtnX to report the news.

    In that vein, please allow me to provide one and all with accurate totals…

    We had two round of voting. The first round’s results were:
    Reisinger – 245 (41.0%)
    Morgan – 237 (39.7%)
    Carter – 115.5 (19.3%)

    Round two’s results were:
    Reisinger – 303.5 (53.3%)
    Morgan – 266 (46.7%)

    There were 28 fewer votes cast in round two than in round one. Reisinger picked up 58.5 votes between rounds, while Morgan gained 29.

    I hope this helps complete the record. And thanks again to MtnX for caring to cover it.

  14. bill smith

    [i]They turn into sour plants – or maybe even right leaning ones. [/i]

    So, the Right’s best recruitment tool isn’t their actual ideas, but people’s emotional reactions against perceived slights? That can’t be long-lasting.

  15. Margaret Williams

    Thank you for the info, Jake, but please refrain from the attack on J. Criticize the ideas, not the people. And J — please rephrase your pending response.

  16. J, call it “cool club” or whatever, but if the elected official in question had been a Republican, then the same process would have occurred with the Republican executive committee. If you have a problem here, it would seem to be with the state law.

    And, I’d note that the County Commissioners are all Democrats. County residents far outnumber City residents. So if there were a meaningful political split between City and County, one might anticipate a different composition on Commish.

    Rather than “cool” I’d put it down to pragmatism. Jo Ann Morgan essentially said she only wanted to finish out Otto de Bruhl’s term. Drew Reisinger is already running for re-election in 2012. If a party hopes to hold onto a seat, incumbency is almost always an advantage.

  17. J


    I was unaware that JoAnn had absolutely no future interest whatsoever in seeking the office in the future. If you could point out to me where she said that, it’d be much appreciated.

    My concern, as a person who will pay Drew’s salary, is why a party would turn their backs on experience. You’ve identified your values of politics and raw partisanship; to you it is more important to put in someone who can win the seat than someone who already knows what they’re doing. That’s all I’m saying; and I don’t think the values reflected in that decision are very noble.

    I’m just calling a spade a spade, I’m sorry if you’re uncomfortable with that.

    You can have disagreements within parties, but still agree on larger objectives. Look to Councilman Smith’s 2008 comments about Bill Stanley, and how he had to hold his nose to vote for him. Look to Councilman Smith’s comments today about how the county is years away from being able to pass any similar resolution – there is a definite city-county split in ideology. I think Drew is one more step in the city democrats gaining power within the county structure.

  18. Jake

    Gee, Margaret, everything I put in my post was factual. It is too bad that you have chosen to delete those facts and thereby allow J’s misinformation to stand. I believe it to be an odd choice for a news organization to make.

  19. Politics Watcher

    Is anyone able to answer my questions above about how county salaries are determined?

  20. J

    *I meant to say Gordon commented about how the County was years away from being able to support a similar resolution that the City Council passed this past week on equality.

  21. bill smith

    [i]You’ve identified your values of politics and raw partisanship;[/i]

    Says the guy blindly attacking the Democrats and suggesting we all vote Republican?

  22. J


    Where did I say we should all vote republican?

    Again, I’m just presenting a neutral observer’s take. Thanks for your interest in my comments.

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