Six picked in Asheville Council primary; Mayor Bellamy takes strong lead

Three newcomers landed the top spots in the Asheville City Council primary on Oct. 6, coming in ahead of two incumbents vying to keep their seats. But a dramatically low voter turnout cast a shadow on the evening.

Cecil Bothwell, Gordon Smith and Esther Manheimer (in that order) lead the pack of six Council candidates that will advance to the general election in November and vie for three seats. Council member Kelly Miller, who was appointed one year ago to fill a seat left by Holly Jones, came in fourth, ahead of two-term Council member Carl Mumpower. Newcomer J. Neal Jackson filled out the sixth spot.

Meanwhile, Mayor Terry Bellamy dominated the mayoral primary, and will face Robert Edwards in the general election.

Bothwell and Smith, finishing 145 votes apart, both credited early campaigning and grassroots organization for their ranking.

“This really establishes what grassroots is all about,” Bothwell said. “We had the largest organization, and it worked.”

“It is a relentless effort that has allowed us to do the things we have,” Smith said.

In all, 7,113 voters cast ballots in the primary. That’s about a tenth of Asheville’s population, a number that was not wasted on the candidates.

“It’s disappointing,” Miller said. “It’s surprising, considering as much effort as we put into getting out the vote.”

“It’s like nobody cared,” Manheimer said. “It’s our job to [get people] to the polls by any means necessary.”

In an e-mail to his supporters, Mumpower noted that “the election was realistically decided by the 90 percent who stayed home.”

He also noted that, in Asheville elections, “the top three primary winners typically win the general election.”

Meanwhile, as candidates watched results came in at their election day parties, incumbent Council member Robin Cape was at her own party rounding up supporters for her write-in campaign. Though she won’t be listed on the November ballot, voters will have an opportunity to write her name in, making her the seventh candidate in what is typically a six-person field.

Here’s the breakdown of final results; the names of the candidates who will advance to the general election are in bold:

Total voted: 7,113

Mayoral race:

Terry Bellamy: 5,150
Robert Edwards: 1,157

Shad Marsh: 283
Denise Pendleton: 167

City Council race:

Cecil Bothwell: 3,718
Gordon Smith: 3,573
Esther Manheimer: 3,275
Kelly Miller: 2,479
Carl Mumpower: 2,330
J. Neal Jackson: 1,270

Ryan Croft: 1,034
Cesar Romero: 405
Jenny Bowen: 540
Larry Chastain: 314

Brian Postelle and David Forbes, staff writers


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Webmaster
Mountain Xpress Webmaster Follow me @MXWebTeam

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

3 thoughts on “Six picked in Asheville Council primary; Mayor Bellamy takes strong lead

  1. Jake

    A happy outcome to be sure. Well done, Asheville! Let’s do it again in four weeks.

  2. JJ

    Yes, for sure, but turnout was very disappointing. Only 7113 showed up to vote compared to 7675 during the 2007 municipal primaries. And Cecil only got about 70 more votes than Jan Davis did in the 07 primary. I was surprised by that. (Cecil’s percentage of the total vote beats Jan’s by about 3%.) I was looking at the stats on the Board of Elections website. There’s lots of info there if you have time to sift through it.

  3. 08Dem

    Thanks for the tip. I took a look at the stats too. What’s up with the declining turnout? If you go back to the 2005 city council primaries, turnout was almost 17% and 9700 people voted. Holly Jones got 5700+ votes, and even 3rd-place Carl Mumpower got 3860, which is more than top vote-getter Bothwell got this time. What gives?

Leave a Reply to JJ ×

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.