New City Council members sworn in; Wisler elected as Vice Mayor

New Asheville City Council. Photo by Virginia Daffron

In a short but jolly ceremony, three newly-elected City Council members were sworn in on Dec. 1 at City Hall.

Before that bit of business, an honor guard from the Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) at Asheville High School led the Pledge of Allegiance. Accompanying herself on guitar, Asheville Senior Firefighter Bentley Andrews sang the National Anthem.

And in an only-in-Asheville bit of whimsical good cheer, Dr. Ron Manheimer (father of Mayor Esther Manheimer) led the audience in singing Asheville is our Town, lyrics he wrote for the occasion, set to the melody of This Land is Your Land.

Surrounded by members of their families, Brian Haynes, Julie Mayfield and Keith Young received the oath of office from Buncombe County Chief District Court Judge the Honorable J. Calvin Hill.

The new council members join sitting members Manheimer, Cecil Bothwell, Gordon Smith and Gwen Wisler.

In remarks following the swearing in, Haynes said, “I’d like to thank our city voters. I’m very proud of them, and I think they did a good job,” earning an appreciative laugh from the audience. He asked those energized by the election to stay involved: “Join committees, attend meetings and let your voices be heard.”

Mayfield commented that running for office was a “new existence” for someone who hadn’t done it before. “Ultimately, this is an incredibly humbling experience,” she continued. “Several thousand people who I don’t know voted for me, and for Keith and Brian, and put their trust in us to lead this city to a better future.”

“Our city is in a very transformative time,” said Young, “and these six other people up here have the city’s best interest at heart. I am looking forward to rolling my sleeves up and working with each and every one of you.”

Manheimer lauded the themes raised by her new colleagues on Council: “We are representing our community, trying to make Asheville a better place and learning to work together in that process. We will certainly have differing opinions, and I hope we do. Otherwise, we are not a functioning body, but what I already hear from you, and what I look forward to, is working with you through those differences to find an outcome that betters our community.”

As the agenda turned to the election of a new Vice Mayor, Councilman Smith, who has announced his candidacy for a District 1 seat on the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, took the floor to express thoughts about the role. “The vice mayor has a unique opportunity to bring the community together,” he said, noting that Mayor Manheimer “gets ten times more  requests [for events] than she can fulfill.” Smith also referred to Manheimer’s recent election as the Chair of the N.C. Metropolitan Mayors Coalition, congratulating the mayor and saying, “So she’s going to be marshaling not only us here in Asheville, but helping to bring together coalitions statewide to work with the legislature.”

Smith went on to nominate, “someone who is a unifier, who has been showing up to more stuff than any council member since I’ve been on here, who has an unquestioning integrity: Gwen Wisler.”

Wisler is “a dove out in the community and a hawk when it comes to the budget,” continued Smith. Bothwell was quick to agree, seconding the nomination. The new Council unanimously voted to select Wisler, who smiled and accepted congratulations on her new title and role.

During the reception that followed the meeting, Manheimer said there had been a bit of “jockeying for position” surrounding the selection, but that all council members concluded that Wisler was the best choice.

Council’s next regular meeting will be held on Dec. 8 at 5 p.m. in Council chambers at City Hall. According to City Clerk Maggie Burleson, Council will hear public comment on the following topics (which are subject to change):

  • Amendment to a previously approved conditional zoning at 671 Sand Hill Road to add a two-story, 8,000 square foot building for an established private school.
  • Permanent closure of an unnamed alley off Jarrett Road.
  • Conditional use permit for the co-location of wireless telecommunications equipment on the existing concealed telecommunication support structure located at 300 Merrimon Avenue.

Council had previously scheduled a public hearing for conditional zoning for the renovation of the BB&T building at One West Pack Square and the construction of a related parking structure at 11 Patton Avenue for its Dec. 8 meeting. That hearing has been rescheduled for Council’s Jan.12 meeting at the request of the developer, McKibbon Hotel Group.

About Virginia Daffron
Managing editor, lover of mountains, native of WNC. Follow me @virginiadaffron

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15 thoughts on “New City Council members sworn in; Wisler elected as Vice Mayor

  1. James

    So Gordon Smith who rose to Asheville fame as a hatemongering blogger with his shrill screwy hooligans website is now planning on running for a seat on the Buncombe County Commissioners. Sadly, he’ll probably win because of the ongoing demographic changes. Secular progressives see Republicans as a bigger threat than islamic radicals and sadly, that’s the mentality of the voting majority now in the area. I am so thankful I no longer have to pay taxes to Asheville and Buncombe County.

    • Solutionist

      Guess Gordon and his sidekicks must have decided that his offensive website would not be good for ‘business’ so
      they apparently shut it down last year or so…they are a very peculiar group of ‘progressives’…not sure WHY Gordon is
      so politically power hungry when he’s so meek and mild otherwise … certainly no real leadership skills there, it’s obvious.

      • bsummers

        Guess Gordon and his sidekicks must have decided that his offensive website would not be good for ‘business’ so they apparently shut it down last year or so

        You really are a fact-free zone, aren’t you?

        • Solutionist

          hmm, so probably then, unwelcome website visitors have been blocked… S.H. is notorious for blocking freedom of speech and opinion. a form of evil it is.

  2. bsummers

    “Secular progressives see Republicans as a bigger threat than islamic radicals”

    Super-duper crazy cartoony much?

    • James

      Yes, just as I posted: secular progressives do see Republicans as a bigger threat than islamic radicals. Case in point, the act of terrorism this week in California. Progressives on social media and elsewhere are blaming guns, the NRA and the Republicans for the attack rather than the real problem which is islam – yes, islam. Had these islamic terrorists not had access to guns, they would have built bombs (oh that’s right, they were building bombs in their apartment) or used knives, machetes, anything to kill. The un-holy koran specifically orders muslims to spread islam by murder, rape and terror. Read it and see for yourself.

      • bsummers

        Such a hateful way to try to gain some partisan advantage from a tragedy, “James”. Will you say these insulting things about your neighbors using your full name? Never mind, I already know the answer.

        I’m not a huge Gordon fan myself, but at least he’s not a coward.

        • James

          Ignorance such as yours only invites more terror like what just happened in California. Take your head out of your prison of political correctness “bsummers” or whatever your name is. islam is exactly what I said it is and more. Sure it’s easy to demonize me as “hateful,” “intolerant” or “raaacist!!!!” But it would also be just as easy for you to buy a koran and read the whole thing. Read how this instruction manual for being a good muslim means you show no mercy towards the Jews and the Christians: they convert, pay the jiza tax or die as per the koran. Additional chapters instruct the faithful how to properly behead infidels, rape and demonstrate no love or tolerance whatsoever for the non-believers. Please, get a koran and read it cover to cover. And no, there is zero comparison or analogy to the Bible whatsoever.

          • bsummers

            Take your rant on Islam etc. somewhere else – what about your attack on local “secular progressives”? You try to link Asheville/Buncombe voters with being soft on terrorism? That’s despicable, “James”.

          • Virginia Daffron

            James, I understand that you are expressing views about a connection you see between local political attitudes and broader challenges facing the nation and the world. Having made that point, future comments in this thread should be focused more closely on the subject of the article, which is the swearing-in of the new Asheville City Council.

  3. Yared Sharot

    A Caucasian female firefighter with an acoustic guitar? Tsk, how conservative. Should have been an Indian lesbian transgender hippie with a kazoo.

  4. Solutionist

    So the Mayor’s dad is emulating Bernie Sanders with his song … so sweet.

    ‘To an indoctrinated mind, the truth is a radical idea’ …. Ron Paul.

    • NFB

      “‘To an indoctrinated mind, the truth is a radical idea’ …. Ron Paul.”

      Oh, the irony!

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