Two of three incumbents advance to general election

PRIMARY WINNERS: The two mayoral candidates and six City Council candidates who will move on to the Nov. 7 election, clockwise from top left: Esther Manheimer, Martin Ramsey, Vijay Kapoor, Sheneika Smith, Kim Roney, Dee Williams, Rich Lee and Gwen Wisler. Photos courtesy of the candidates
PRIMARY WINNERS: The two mayoral candidates and six City Council candidates who will move on to the Nov. 7 election, clockwise from top left: Esther Manheimer, Martin Ramsey, Vijay Kapoor, Sheneika Smith, Kim Roney, Dee Williams, Rich Lee and Gwen Wisler. Photos courtesy of the candidates

With 100 percent of precincts reporting primary election results, the ballot for Asheville City Council and mayor for the Nov. 7 general election is set.

For mayor, incumbent Esther Manheimer and Martin Ramsey will face off in November. They received 77.05 percent and 15.60 percent of the vote, respectively, while Jonathan Wainscott drew 4.82 percent, and Jonathan Austin Glover, who dropped out of the race last month, got 2.52 percent.

From a field of 12, the six candidates for City Council who will continue on to compete for three seats in the general election are:

  • Vijay Kapoor, with 17.64 percent of the vote
  • Sheneika Smith, 12.84 percent
  • Gwen Wisler (incumbent), 11.31 percent
  • Dee Williams, 10.67 percent
  • Rich Lee, 9.96 percent
  • Kim Roney, 9.93 percent

Incumbent Cecil Bothwell did not make the cut, coming in with 9.60 percent of the vote, 106 votes behind sixth-place finisher Roney. Bothwell had served two terms on City Council, beginning in 2009. Rounding out the field of candidates who did not make it through the primary for City Council were Jeremy Goldstein, Adrian Vassallo, Pratik Bhakta, Andrew Fletcher and Jan (Howard) Kubiniec.

Voter turnout for the election was remarkably high relative to the most recent municipal primaries, at 16.52 percent, or 11,497, of registered voters casting a ballot. In the 2015 municipal primary, 12.82 percent (8,602) of registered Asheville voters showed up for the qualifying election. In 2013, only 8.98 percent of voters (6,079) turned up at the polls for the primary.

Candidates from minority populations had good showings in the election, with three of four candidates collecting enough votes to move on to the general election. Smith and Williams, who are African-American, both advanced. Kapoor, one of the two candidates of South Asian descent, received the most votes for City Council, while Bhakta came in 10th in the Council race and will not continue. In addition, Glover, an African-American candidate for mayor, pulled out of the race in September but still received 278 votes, trailing Wainscott by only 253 votes.

Newcomers to Asheville elections also fared fairly well in the Oct. 10 primary. Three of the six top vote-getters for City Council had not previously run for the city’s top positions: Kapoor, Roney and Smith. Lee ran for Council in 2015, Williams has run several times unsuccessfully for Council, and Wisler was elected to Council in 2013 and chosen as vice mayor in 2015. In the mayoral race, Manheimer has served as mayor since 2013, before which she was on City Council; Ramsey ran for mayor in 2013 but only pulled in 887 votes in the primary and did not appear on the ballot for the general election — compared to the 1,719 votes he garnered in this year’s primary.

In this primary election, raking in campaign funds did not necessarily translate to success at the polls. Goldstein reported in early September that his campaign had raised $33,353, far outpacing the nearest competitor, Kapoor, who had raised $24,002 by that point. Yet on Election Day, Goldstein drew only 2,380 votes to Kapoor’s 5,637. The third-highest fundraiser, Vassallo, garnered $22,156 in campaign contributions a month out from the election, but came in ninth in the vote tally.

Results are unofficial until the Oct. 16 county canvass. Early voting for the general election begins on Oct. 19. Times and locations for early voting can be found here.

For more information on the candidates who will compete in the Nov. 7 general election, see the links below from the Xpress voter guide:

Mayor:

Esther Manheimer
Martin Ramsey

City Council:

Vijay Kapoor
Rich Lee
Kim Roney
Sheneika Smith
Dee Williams
Gwen Wisler

Unofficial results from the N.C. State Board of Elections for the Oct. 10 municipal primary in Asheville
Unofficial results from the N.C. State Board of Elections for the Oct. 10 municipal primary in Asheville

Asheville City Council primary results breakdown

City Council primary: campaign funds vs. votes


Note: Campaign contributions reflect total receipts in this election for the 35-day reports, which were submitted to the Board of Elections by Sept. 5. Fletcher and Kubiniec did not file those reports.

 
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About Carolyn Morrisroe
Carolyn Morrisroe is the news editor at Mountain Xpress. She can be reached at cmorrisroe@mountainx.com. Follow me @CarolynMorrisro

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35 thoughts on “Two of three incumbents advance to general election

  1. luther blissett

    There’ll be plenty of chewing on the by-precinct results, and the run-in to the run-off is going to be especially interesting because of where the votes for the defeated candidates may go. I think the big props go to Sheneika Smith, whose GOTV operation was clearly on the mark. More candidate forums and more detailed questionnaires from local press, please.

      • luther blissett

        Thanks, Daniel: while food policy is important, with impacts on broader questions of wellbeing, it’s more marginal to this particular election. Perhaps MountainX can organise its own forum with a broader “state of the city / state of council” theme?

  2. Deplorable Infidel

    well well…the candidate who sent the most mailers did not qualify…ha.

    • bsummers

      Nor did the three who favored letting the hotels skate on helping City taxpayers deal with the tsunami of tourists they’re profiting from…ha.

      • NFB

        Yeah, if there is any message from the results last night it is that the TDA has a massively poor image problem.

        Of course the TDA got Raleigh on their side so it doesn’t really have to concern itself with what the locals think.

        • bsummers

          Of course the TDA got Raleigh on their side so it doesn’t really have to concern itself with what the locals think.

          Except that the TDA Board is made up of all local business people – mostly hotel owners. They have to live and do business in this town. How much pressure have they felt from City residents who are fed up with the swarm of tourists, and none of the revenue generated from them going towards City services or infrastructure?

          http://www.ashevillecvb.com/bctda-board/

          • NFB

            Yeah, but since they are mostly hotel owners (and part of the incestuousness of the whole TDA system is that a majority of the TDA board must be hotel owners) they rely on non-locals for their business base.

            Of the nine members of the BCTDA (not counting ex-officio members Julie Mayfield and Joe Belecher) 7 are hotel owners or other lodging for tourists, while the other two rely on tourists for a substantial portion of their business. I suppose locals could put some economic pressure on Highland Brewery, but one out of 9 won’t get you very far.

            I suspect the BCTDA wishes it had a better image with the local public, but not so much that’s it’s willing to given up a penny of its slush fund.

            And oh yeah, how is MR. McKibbon’s promised advocacy to see that some of the room tax money goes to help the city deal with services the tourists the TDA brings here going? It has been almost two years since that promise was made.

          • bsummers

            …how is MR. McKibbon’s promised advocacy to see that some of the room tax money goes to help the city…going?

            I’m glad you keep asking that. Has anyone in the local media, at XPress, for example, ever asked him about it? TDA keeps minutes of their meetings. Maybe see if Board Member McKibbon ever brings it up…

            Since the three most TDA-friendly candidates (Goldstein, Vassallo, Bhakta) all lost, it would seem that the voting public is not overjoyed with them. Someone from XPress might have a good little story if they approached Mr. McKibbon about his ‘promise’.

          • luther blissett

            BCTDA will announce which applicants get this year’s grant awards “[o]n or before Wednesday, October 25.”

            The schedule was set long ago. I’m sure all the candidates will be looking with interest at who gets the prizes.

          • NFB

            “I’m glad you keep asking that. Has anyone in the local media, at XPress, for example, ever asked him about it? TDA keeps minutes of their meetings. Maybe see if Board Member McKibbon ever brings it up…”

            That would be nice, but I don’t know what it is going to take to get them do actually report on this.

          • Able Allen

            Hey, y’all, lets keep the discussion here more about the election and the politics directly relating to the candidates and results. The TDA is somewhat related, but I think we are muddying the water here.
            Thanks-

          • bsummers

            Hey, y’all, lets keep the discussion here more about the election and the politics directly relating to the candidates and results. The TDA is somewhat related, but I think we are muddying the water here.

            Respectfully, I disagree. The Tourism Development Authority is central to Asheville’s tourism, and Asheville’s tourism-based economy is central to so many issues in this election . How do I know this? Because one of the 10 questions on the XPress election questionnaire two weeks ago was about the Buncombe TDA, and whether they should contribute more to help the City with the impact of tourism.

            https://mountainx.com/news/2017-asheville-city-council-primary-election-guide/

            Should we also not talk about affordable housing, the River Arts District, STRs, APD, district elections, or any of the other issues that you yourselves said were central to this election?

          • Able Allen

            I hear you Barry, it’s not that it isn’t an important issue, it just drags the conversation away from the topic here. If you want to tie your take on the TDA to the outcome of the election, fine- but if you are just trying to say your piece about the myriad of things that council might have an opinion on, this isn’t the place. So yea, don’t just gripe about any of the topics you mentioned unless you want to tie it in to the content of this story. If someone comes on this comment thread and just wants to complain about the nightmare that is Merrimon Avenue, that doesn’t mean it’s not an election issue, like the TDA — it is, even if council has very limited control over either of those things, it’s just not the conversation at issue here.

          • bsummers

            Able –

            I believe I did tie my “gripe” on the TDA directly to the election results, at the top of this thread. Three candidates for Council said they did not favor asking the TDA to do more for the City. They all lost, including Jeremy Goldstein, the top money-raiser in the race.

            And while City Council doesn’t “control” the TDA, they have more influence over it than they have exercised thus far. With these election results (every candidate who has moved forward, including the Mayor favoring more contribution from the TDA), they will have a public mandate like never before.

            There – I’m done somehow preventing people from talking about other issues.

          • Able Allen

            That was definitely a fair point, but the rest of the thread was going off the rails. Thanks for your cooperation.

  3. NFB

    Well, this could get interesting. From the ACT’s website:

    “Bothwell, a two-term incumbent, singled out Williams as being a factor in his loss, saying she campaigned on issues outside of local government control.

    ‘And this isn’t coming from a bitter place, I accept that the people don’t want me to come back. But I will do everything I can to prevent Dee from getting elected,’ he said”

  4. NFB

    Oh, and another message from last night — south Asheville doesn’t need Affirmative Action to get someone who lives there onto City Council.

    • bsummers

      BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!

      He was far & away the top vote-getter, too. Can’t wait to see how the GOPers spin that to mean that no one from South Asheville has a chance of getting elected without ̶a̶ ̶l̶e̶g̶ ̶u̶p̶ district elections.

      • NFB

        Well, I imagine that they think that Mr. Kapoor doesn’t really count since he is a registered Democrat, among other things.

        • bsummers

          I can’t find any local reporting that the other South Asheville Asian-American candidate, “Practical” Pratik Bhakta, is a registered Republican. Not even in this AC-T story, which would lead people to think he isn’t GOP:

          Asheville’s City Council candidates are more diverse, qualified and liberal, observers say
          http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2017/10/07/ashevilles-city-council-candidates-more-diverse-qualified-and-liberal-observers-say/740823001/

          I’d be surprised if nobody over at MumpowerHQ today is saying maybe that was a mistake. Maybe Pratik should have trumpeted the fact that he was the only registered Republican in the race. You would have seen a whole bunch of single-shot votes cast for him.

          Ah well. Why run good candidates who are forthright about their beliefs, right, BCGOP? There’s always using the power in Raleigh to change local election rules.

          • Carolyn Morrisroe

            As a point of information, the state of North Carolina provides a voter lookup tool where anyone can search for a person’s registered party affiliation and voting history: https://vt.ncsbe.gov/RegLkup/

          • bsummers

            Good tip, Carolyn. Everyone should know that resource. That’s how I had to find out Pratik’s status, and what it said about his beliefs.

            And while I understand that the race is “electorally” non-partisan, I’m not convinced that leaving that aspect of their candidacy out of the reporting is necessarily a good thing. Especially when much reporting seems directed (intentionally or not) at informing voters of the left-leaning tendencies of some candidates:

            Asheville’s City Council candidates are more diverse, qualified and liberal, observers say (AC-T)

            Vying for endorsement, 4 City Council candidates identify as socialists (MountainX)

            It doesn’t seem to have hurt all of the self-identified “socialists” – the 3 non-incumbents all made it through the primary (Bothwell barely lost to Roney). But still – Bhakta ran ads on the local “liberal” radio station, etc., and it was never reported that he’s actually a registered Republican. In the end, he skates by perceived as a non-partisan “moderate”. (Again, that didn’t seem to have helped him.) Anyway, in the long run, I hope you all will consider this.

          • luther blissett

            The other bit of reporting that’s missing is the content of mailers and other authorized electoral communications by candidates and campaigns. We know that there are “slates” that pretend not to be slates and various endorsements but much of that bubbles under the surface.

            Anyway, I crunched the numbers and Vassallo spent $16.25 per vote while Goldstein spent $14.01, not counting any spending done over the past month. Ouch.

          • NFB

            “I’d be surprised if nobody over at MumpowerHQ today is saying maybe that was a mistake. Maybe Pratik should have trumpeted the fact that he was the only registered Republican in the race. You would have seen a whole bunch of single-shot votes cast for him.”

            I kind of doubt that Carl Mumpower wants a Republican on Council (other than himself, of course.) That would make it much more difficult for him to play the incessant victim card he loves so much. You know, the one about how intolerant Asheville is because it refuses to have even one “conservative” on its council. (As if he’d show the same poutrage over Avery County refusing to have even one Democrat (even a blue dog type) on its county commission if he lived there.)

  5. Théo Biamonte

    The photos at the top and the names below them differ in their order. Dee’s and Rich’s names are swapped for how they should be. Just thought you might want to know.

    • Able Allen

      Hey Théo. Thanks for reading! The caption is a little strange for how people often expect them to be, but it names people clockwise, instead of left to right, which might make the bottom row seem backward at first glance.

  6. bsummers

    Speaking of Carl Mumpower, district elections, and partisanship, the BCGOP has now dropped any pretense that district elections are about “geographic representation”. It’s now explicitly and unapologetically about helping conservatives get elected. There is not one word about geographic fairness in Carl’s latest screed:

    Asheville district elections are a counter to greed…
    http://buncombegop.org/2017/10/asheville-district-elections-counter-greed/

    “From the Chair – The picture above is of the current members of the Asheville City Council. They are smiling. One of the reasons they are smiling is they are of like political persuasion and are in total control. Every member of this happy group leans to the left or far left. Every single one.

    “Together, they have turned city hall into a liberal safe place. The absence of anything remotely akin to a conservative voice has insulated them from meaningful challenge, budgetary constraint or diversity of thought. The opposition within this governing body is restricted to what toppings they put on their shared ice cream preference – vanilla.”

    Carl doesn’t really explain how he equates a City Council that is “of like political persuasion” with “greed”. Gotta say something awful and defamatory in order to bolster his partisan whining, I guess… Can’t wait for his next indefensible screed to cover for the fact that he can’t recruit or get elected any Republicans during his watch…

    • NFB

      Former Councilman Joe Dunn was making that same ruse about how the drive for distract elections “wasn’t about ideology” but about getting people in south Asheville a seat at the table.

      Then, of course, at a CIBO meeting he whined about he “tsunami of liberal progressives” that get elected to City Council and when he and some of his minions went to Raleigh to testify in support of the bill some of them complained about how Asheville was run by, gasp! liberals.

      So much for it not being about ideology, which is why they won’t concern themselves like details about Mr. Kapoor doing such a great job of running well ahead in first place yesterday despite being an oppressed resident of south Asheville.

  7. Angela Phillips

    The GOP did not directly promote (excepting through calls and support at the polls) Pratik at his specific request. He was advised not to identify himself as a conservative or a Republican. We shared that as a potential error in judgment, but accommodated his wishes.

    • bsummers

      He was advised not to identify himself as a conservative or a Republican.

      Seems a little bit, oh what’s the word… sneaky, doesn’t it? Who was it that advised him to hide who he really was from the voters?

      The GOP did not directly promote (excepting through calls and support at the polls) Pratik at his specific request.

      You mean except on the BCGOP website, right?

      Asheville city primary – who should Republicans and conservatives vote for?
      “The only candidate with those credentials is Pratik Bhakta.”
      http://buncombegop.org/2017/10/asheville-city-primary-republicans-conservatives-vote/

      CONSERVATIVE VOTER? Early voting in AVL starts today!
      “There is currently one candidate who is a registered Republican – Pratik Bhakta”
      http://buncombegop.org/2017/09/conservative-voter-early-voting-avl-starts-today/

      So BCGOP stalwarts knew who he was, but you all agreed to hide that from the rest of the voters. Hmmm….

      • Linda Humphries

        Isn’t the Asheville City Council race considered a Non-partisan race? Disclosure of party affiliation is up to the candidates, not a party. I believe there were candidates of all party affiliations in this race.

        Party affiliation is considered “public information” in the state of NC. Voters need only visit the SBOE site to retrieve that information. As far as the local Republican and Democrat party are concerned, it stands to reason they support candidates that speak to their platform.

        • bsummers

          Does it stand to reason that a candidate would actively try to discourage his party affiliation from getting out to the voters? Apparently that’s what Pratik Bhakta did here. And yes, people can find the BOE site & look that info up, but how many are going to take the time? And the BCGOP played along, although they encouraged ‘their own’ to go out and vote for him.

          Don’t get me wrong – I sympathize that you all live in a town that’s majority Democrat (and County, and State… but never mind), so you feel you’re justified in doing anything you can to gain a foothold. But doesn’t it feel just a little sleazy – this, but also the district election thing, voter ID thing, gerrymander thing, etc. etc.? Maybe look at the policies you’re running on, and people will actually want to vote for you, not just do it because they’re tricked into it, or prevented from voting against you etc. I know I’d feel better, myself…

  8. Helen

    Looking at the results, this looks like a “Make Asheville Great Again” campaign fight.
    I wonder where it will all actually lead.
    The same folks who decried the boarded up Asheville of the 80s and left.
    Now that the town is thriving, they want it back.

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