Years ago, shortly after my family’s arrival in Asheville, I met Cecil Bothwell for the first time. He was in Pritchard Park, pleading passionately with the people. It was a political rally—something most independent publishers disallow their staff to engage in. Mr. Bothwell was saying something about “wake up America” and “get out there and vote”—things we hear all the time. But Bothwell’s language was more integral and intelligent than what I expect to hear at a rally. He was a vocal reflection of many people in that crowd. We nodded our heads, grateful that someone could articulate what we had only felt up until then. I remember feeling very confident about the Asheville I had inherited.
The next thing we knew, America slept late while George Bush snickered his way into a second term. Through many local and global changes, Cecil challenged Mountain Xpress to be daring, break rules and uphold its moral responsibility to serve us with journalism that matters. Sure, he could be demanding and self-righteous, but he was playing for the people. In his days as managing editor, Mountain Xpress was a cover-to-cover reading adventure. I looked forward to grabbing a hot copy each Wednesday.
Asheville wants its strongest independent weekly to be courageous, connected and packed with meaningful insight. Much of what has made Mountain X great over the past 10 years originated with Cecil Bothwell. Did he break rules? Sure. Is he difficult to work with at times? I can only guess: yes. But shame on you for failing to honor him in his exit. As a business owner, I understand that sometimes we have to fire our most talented friends. I understand that the public does not have the facts. But if you are not going to publish the facts, lest you alienate your most loyal readers, I ask that you celebrate and honor Mr. Bothwell. Instead of simply dumping ink in the form of polarized letters, give us something from Mountain Xpress that shows a little respect where due.
— Ian Bryan