Mayor Manheimer, Asheville citizens call for fair redistricting

Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer. Photo by Max Cooper
Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer. Photo by Max Cooper

Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer held a press conference Thursday, May 11, to highlight House Bill 200, which seeks to end gerrymandering on a statewide level. Asheville residents affiliated with Common Cause NC, a nonprofit organization based out of Raleigh, also spoke against gerrymandering within congressional districts and the need to support the proposed legislation.

House Bill 200 was filed in February by 39 co-sponsors representing both parties in the N.C. House, including all members of the Buncombe County House delegation. Despite bipartisan support, the bill has not been able to get a hearing or a vote.

Asheville is also experiencing the effects of what some categorize as gerrymandering with a recent bill filed by Sen. Chuck Edwards of Hendersonville to create districts for city council seats.

“Asheville really is ground zero for gerrymandering in a lot of ways,” said Brent Laurenz, the director of Common Cause. “Between the congressional district being split in two last go-round and the efforts to redraw the City Council from Raleigh, there’s a lot of hyperlocal attention around the issue here.”

In her comments, Manheimer advocated for an end to gerrymandering, calling it a “short-sighted, short-term gain.”

“Gerrymandering of local, federal and state offices by the state legislature has all been for one blatant political goal: to diminish the voice of the people,” Manheimer said. “By splitting Asheville into two ruby-red congressional districts, the city’s electorate has been neutralized.”

A recent poll conducted by Public Policy Polling showed that 80 percent of citizens — Republican, Democrat and unaffiliated alike — did not think it was fair for politicians to be drawing their own district lines, Laurenz said. With this level of bipartisan support, Common Cause NC is calling for a fair hearing in the Legislature and a fair vote.

“It basically takes the power of the vote away from citizens,” said Jim Millikan, a Candler resident who spoke out against gerrymandering and in favor of House Bill 200. “Gerrymandering ensures that there are guaranteed winners and guaranteed losers. I hope the Legislature realizes the bipartisan benefit of switching the system to a more neutral system so that voter participation matters.”

Manheimer’s comments made a similar appeal.

“The biggest harm in gerrymandering political representation, where election outcomes are artificially manufactured, is the apathy generated among the people,” Manheimer said. “Why should you vote? Why should you the voter care about political representation when your vote is being manipulated to affect a disproportionate amount of people? This resulting apathy shall be the demise of democracy, and I argue that this result, in the end serves no party.”

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About Molly Horak
Molly is a sophomore Journalism and Political Science student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is spending her summer working with the Mountain Xpress, exploring in the mountains, and drinking excessive amounts of coffee.

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7 thoughts on “Mayor Manheimer, Asheville citizens call for fair redistricting

  1. Grant Millin

    City council elections have had outcome determined by less than / about only 25 percent of registered voters for many years now. So when can this low turnout resulting in a weak public mandate behind this and past mayor’s and councils be at least discussed in a significant manner?

    Along with repeatedly asking these kinds of turnout oriented questions I did try to do something innovative about the condition:

    http://sustainnc.com/innovating-city-council-races/

    Obviously relying on candidate and party centric GOTV efforts—or even the many pro-democracy nonprofits and what government intervention there was pre-Trump—solely is not turning up turnout in Asheville. Obviously the brazenly anti-Civil Rights Act GOP gerrymandering since 2010 hasn’t helped.

    Agreed getting Sen. Edwards behind NC House Bill 200, Nonpartisan Redistricting Commission, is part of the solution for the state as to gerrymandering. However my recollection is Asheville city council turnout was not particularly at overflow pre-2010 in any case.

    Worth investigating, WNC journalists!

    “This resulting apathy shall be the demise of democracy, and I argue that this result, in the end serves no party.” – Mayor Manheimer

    • Lulz

      LOL, apathy is because only a certain part of the city controls elections. Period. Again, why am I tasked with paying for facilities for tourist to use? Or so developers can come on in with minimal investment and make millions?

      People have given up on elections. Or you just have a population so disinterested in it that they don’t care. Either way though we’ve witnessed close to 30 years of the same political control while seeing low wages, high taxes, a booming tourist industry that makes no contributions to the quality of life here, and given rise to people like Brownie Newman. A person who uses the system to become a millionaire. I tell you what,start investigating him first off and you might just come to find that he isn’t the only corrupt person in government. Lot’s of conflict of interests in the whole corrupt scheme.

  2. Deplorable Infidel

    where were all the democrats to make everything ‘fair’ when they were in charge for 150 years in NC ? ? ?

    dontcha just love the drama from the maoyoress ? (what are they saying on Topix Asheville?)

    • Lulz

      LOL, that’s like looking the other way because a certain local democrat became a millionaire while in office and yet when a certain national republican fires an FBI head, calling it a Constitutional crisis and demanding hearings and investigations. You can’t take these crooks and cronies at face value. Nor can you allow them to go unchecked as has the local media and democrat party. They have some serious flaws in supporting the people they’re putting up for elections.

  3. Elwood Namsa

    North Carolina is a state synonymous with racial prejudice and corruption. This is just another of the myriad spokes in the wheel of evil by the power hungry narcissists. Any politician/representative belonging to either political party is associating with evil and deserve their just reward.

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