Letter: Van Duyn knuckles under on district elections ‘compromise’

Graphic by Lori Deaton

[Sen.] Terry Van Duyn … proposed a “compromise” with [Sen.] Chuck Edwards regarding the districting of Asheville City Council. Seventy-five percent of city residents voted not to district our Council seats. Isn’t government in a free society dependent upon the assent of the governed?

Ms. Van Duyn’s “compromise” is not just hollow, it’s completely empty! A jot instead of a tittle is not a compromise. Van Duyn’s “compromise” represents to me a knuckling-under of an elected official that was sent to Raleigh with a specific mandate to represent and protect her constituents. Van Duyn was not sent to Raleigh with a mandate to “join ’em if you can’t beat ’em”!!!

Our “conservative” legislature has repeatedly seen defeat in litigation in the courts of our land regarding flawed and illegal legislation. I find it appalling that Ms. Van Duyn thinks it wiser to engage a senator that isn’t even from Buncombe County, much less Asheville, to support legislation that isn’t favored by the citizens of our city. Mr. Edwards lacks the vision, understanding and intellect to impose his views on anybody else.

That Ms. Van Duyn views this “compromise” as beneficial, rather than simply remaining in opposition to a measure that her city has rejected at the polling booth is an abrogation of her position. This measure is not government by assent, it is not democratic, and I seriously believe it to be an illegal attempt to oppress a city full of citizens because the author simply views himself in an artificially illuminated light.

I’m with Mayor [Esther] Manheimer; bring litigation if this ridiculous and voter-rejected mandate is forced upon us!! At least Esther Manheimer understands her constituency. Ms. Van Duyn seems to have, very sadly, forgotten her constituency and where she’s from. Ms. Van Duyn contradicts herself in her stated position on her very own website, which seems not to have been updated since shortly after her election.

This I do know: I will not cast another vote for Terry Van Duyn. It seems obvious to me that she simply is not capable of doing the job she’s been elected to do.

I wouldn’t have written this letter had Ms. Van Duyn not defended her position to me personally via email. She places herself in direct contradiction to the voters who elected her.

What a shame.

— Bill Grindstaff

Editor’s note: Xpress contacted Sen. Van Duyn for a response to a summary of the letter writer’s points and received the following reply: “If there was any way I could have stopped the districting of Asheville’s city elections I would have. I simply did not have the votes.

“Sen. Edwards, on the other hand, had all the votes he needed to implement the original six-district map. He modified that plan, drawing five districts and one at-large seat, a change that allows all existing City Council members to run for re-election.

“With the input of the mayor and several City Council members, I requested an amendment to move the elections to even years, where increased turnout should result in elections that more fully represent the people of Asheville.

“My vote acknowledges Sen. Edwards’ willingness to accept input from the city, and will hopefully help get this issue behind us.”


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8 thoughts on “Letter: Van Duyn knuckles under on district elections ‘compromise’

  1. Brandoncasey

    We have entered into a time where it’s considered weak to work across political lines. We must have republicans and democrats work together. I applaud Sen. Van Duyn for her efforts.

  2. Jon

    The Republicans have a super-majority. They need 0 votes from Democrats.

    The even year stipulation is good, as it will put these elections in step with Federal elections.
    Reducing the districts from 6 to 5 is also good. I don’t really care about incumbents being
    able to run again.

    Kudos to Terry for getting anything out of Chuck, who could have told her to get lost.

    All that said, once again, Raleigh is putting the screws to us.

  3. Enlightened Enigma

    Van Duyn’s action was one of utter welcomed surprise, being from AVL and all … the smart people KNOW that district elections will be BETTER for the people.

    • MAVL

      So the 75% of Asheville voters who voted against the arbitrary districts drawn to divide our city aren’t smart enough to know what’s good for them? Oh please, enlightened one, show us all the way and lead us out of the darkness.

      • Lulz

        LOL 75% of the voters? How many registered voters voted in the last election?

        Districts do something leftist actually claim to want but for some odd reason not in this town.

  4. SpareChange

    The practice of states playing with the structure and functioning of local electoral systems is as old as the Republic itself. Although personally opposed to the efforts of the NC State Assembly to dictate the terms of Asheville’s electoral system, under the state and U.S. Constitutions, it is absolutely within their power to do so, and there is nothing unusual, unprecedented or illegal about it (research “Dillon’s Rule”). Local governments are creatures of the state, and they are chartered and granted authority by the state.

    Although the writer is certainly free to find fault with Sen. Van Duyn’s actions, her successful attempt to try to at least remove some of the rough edges from a bill, which she and everyone else knew would pass, is in most respects commendable.

    I understand the argument that there are times when a principle is so inviolate that compromise should not be considered, but this is not one of those times. The truth of the matter is that while we cannot predict these things with 100% accuracy, the change in Asheville’s elections is highly unlikely to result in any change in the kinds of candidates who get elected or in the substance of city government decision making. Sen. Van Duyn’s amendments, will however, result in a significant increase in turnout for city elections, which is not only a positive outcome in and of itself, but also makes it that much more unlikely that the kinds of candidates the letter writer would probably oppose, would or could get elected in Asheville.

  5. cecil bothwell

    I think moving the elections to even years is a very serious mistake. City elections get precious little attention in off-years, just consider how much attention will be paid in the heat of a presidential election.
    What will certainly happen is that low-information voters will be swayed by advertising and name recognition, which means that money will play an even larger role. That is, of course, the intent of the GOP in the General Assembly. It lines up perfectly with the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council’s agenda – pushed across the country. If money plays a larger part, more Republicans are likely to be elected.
    Hopefully the City will file suit. This was clearly a local bill and the GA didn’t follow the correct procedure for a local bill. (Local bills historically have only been approved when an entire local delegation supports them. Our three representatives followed the lead of local voters and opposed the bill. Only Van Duyn ignored the wishes of the voters here – and made a bad bill worse with her even-year “compromise.”)

    • Lulz

      LOL low info voters is how progressives get elected. After all, how can we have a mayor that works at a law firm that represents a guy who is a vocal critic of the bond? Or how can we have a commissioner who became a millionaire while in office while peddling solar energy to the government?

      People like you claim low info voters vote for the right. Yet it’s leftist who on racial politics, abortion centric causes, illegal aliens, ageism through threats of social security cuts, or threats of cuts to welfare. On top of getting behind every cause that ensures low info voters remain squarely on the side that promises them handouts.

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