Asheville City Council

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Asheville city council meets Tuesday evening for the first time in a month, and items related the city’s police department headline the agenda.  

Nine body camera videos were released via court order Monday that depict the beating of an unarmed black man last August and its aftermath by a then-Asheville police officer, who now faces criminal charges for the incident.

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Asheville city council has decided to replace embattled city manager Gary Jackson, effective at the end of the business day Tuesday.  Jackson’s ouster after 13 years on the job was announced by mayor Esther Manheimer during a Tuesday afternoon city council meeting.  Earlier this year, Jackson announced he was retiring at the end of 2018.  But that was before the release of video footage showing a then-Asheville police officer beating an unarmed black man last August.  That video, from a police body camera, only came to light because it was leaked to the Asheville Citizen-Times, which publi

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Asheville city council is scheduled to meet twice on Tuesday, its first regularly scheduled meetings since the release of a body camera video that showed a then-city police officer beating an unarmed black man last year.  

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The city of Asheville Monday afternoon formally asked Buncombe County Superior Court to release any additional police body camera footage of the beating of Johnnie Jermaine Rush.  The unarmed black man was beaten by then Asheville police officer Chris Hickman last August as he walking through the parking lot of a closed business on Short Coxe Avenue.  Rush was initially stopped for suspected jaywalking and trespassing, but charges against him were dropped.  Hickman resigned from the force in January, shortly before a criminal investigation into his actions in the Rush beating was opened by

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Asheville city council has called a closed session special meeting for Monday evening to discuss a video released this week showing a then-Asheville police officer beating an unarmed black man last August.  The video, published by the Asheville Citizen-Times, shows officer Chris Hickman beating and shocking with a stun gun Johnnie Jermaine Rush.  Hickman had stopped Rush for suspected jaywalking and trespassing August 24th. 

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Efforts to promote racial and ethnic equity in Asheville should include community forums focusing on traffic stop data from city police.  That’s one of many recommendations a study group that’s proposing a ‘human relations commission’ in Asheville gave to city council Tuesday.  That group is also asking the city to expand its Office of Equity and Inclusion from one to four employees.  The current head of that office, Kimberlee Archie, was just hired last year. 

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Short term rentals were easily the most discussed issue on the campaign trail ahead of this month's city elections in Asheville.  Even after the votes have been counted, the future and prevalence of AirBnB-style lodgings remains a political flashpoint in the city.  The Planning and Zoning Commission has received requests from outside developers to allow units be set aside for short term rentals in planned townhouse and condominium projects, like McCormick Place (pictured above) which is slated to be built near McCormick Field.  Meanwhile, the Asheville city council took steps to

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Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer got a resounding vote of confidence earlier this month, winning re-election with more than 80% of the vote.  She stopped by BPR to speak with Jeremy Loeb about the election results and to look forward to her second four-year term.  She also discussed possible actions the city might take in response to a legislative effort to force districts for council members, something Asheville voters overwhelmingly rejected.

This week's election in Asheville will produce the most ethnically diverse city council in its history.  Vijay Kapoor, Sheneika Smith, and incumbent vice mayor Gwen Wisler were all elected to city council.  Kapoor is the first Asian-American ever elected to the body (he and Pratik Bhakta, who lost in this year's primary election, were the first Asian-American candidates ever for Asheville city council).  Smith's election means for the first time in 26 years, there will be two African-Americans on city council.  Citizen-Times reporter

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The sponsor of the bill that mandated Asheville draw districts for future city council elections says ‘it isn’t optional’ for the city to follow the law – even though Asheville residents rejected districts by a 3 to 1 margin in this week’s election.  Henderson County Republican Chuck Edwards district includes parts of South Asheville – a supposedly more politically moderate and conservative part of Asheville that rarely has been represented on city council, whose six members are currently elected at-large.  The bill Edwards sponsored which his colleagues in the General Assembly OK’d earlie

Incumbent Asheville mayor Esther Manheimer breezed to an easy re-election, while Vijay Kapoor, Sheneika Smith, and incumbent Gwen Wisler won city council seats.  Meanwhile, three-quarters of those who voted in Asheville said no to creating city council districts, even though a state law passed earlier this year by the Republican-dominated General Assembly mandated the Democratically-controlled city do so for the 2019 election.  

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Blue Ridge Public Radio and the Asheville Citizen-Times partnered on a forum with the six candidates for the November 7th general election for Asheville city council.  It was recorded in the BPR studios on October 23rd.  All six candidates participated - Dee Williams, Kim Roney, Rich Lee, Vijay Kapoor, Gwen Wisler, and Sheneika Smith.  The topic of the forum was discrimination, and questions for the candidates related to issues around that.  Voters will elect three of the candidates to city council.

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Blue Ridge Public Radio and the Asheville Citizen-Times partnered on the first of two forums with candidates for Asheville City Council Monday.  You can watch it on the BPR News Facebook page.  It will be aired this Friday October 27th at noon in place of The State of Things.  The second forum will be held Monday October 30th at noon and can be viewed live on the Citizen-Times website and

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This week's Asheville primary yielded a few surprising results, but the issues that were driving voters to the polls should come as no shock to anyone who follows city politics.  South Asheville businessman Vijay Kapoor was by far the top vote getter in the city council primary, which whittled the number of candidates from 12 to 6 for next month's general election.  Kapoor's showing is a sign the neighborhood he hails from is becoming a burgeoning force in Asheville politics according to Citizen-Times reporter Joel Burgess, who covers city government.  He says growth of Asheville was what

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Asheville mayor Esther Manheimer and Vice Mayor Gwen Wisler advanced to next month's general election in the city, but outspoken city council Cecil Bothwell fell just short in his quest for another term.  The primary whittled down the number of mayoral candidates from four to two, and city council candidates from 12 to six.  Those remaining face off in the general election, which will be held on November 7th.

Tuesday is primary election day for the city of Asheville.  Up for election this year are the mayor's office, and three city council seats currently held Cecil Bothwell, Gwen Wisler, and Gordon Smith.  Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.  More information can be found here. 

The top two finishers in the mayoral primary and the top six in the city council primary will advance to the November 7th general election.  

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Asheville voters will decide this fall whether they want city council districts or the current system of electing members at-large.  That’s even though the North Carolina General Assembly already passed a measure forcing the city to draw districts for the 2019 election.

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The filing deadline is noon on Friday July 21st for candidates wishing to run for offices in this fall's municipal elections in Buncombe County.  Asheville, Black Mountain, Montreat, Weaverville, and Woodfin will all be holding elections this fall for mayor, city council, town council, or board of alderman seats (Woodfin will also hold an election for its Sanitary Water & Sewer District Board of Trustees).

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Speaking to BPR a day after the legislature passed a bill forcing districts for Asheville city council members, mayor Esther Manheimer said there is a legal strategy in place to deal with them.  Manheimer said the issue would need to be discussed at the next council meeting on July 25th.

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The long-debated Asheville districts bill is now law.  The North Carolina House passed the bill forcing districts for Asheville city council members, and the Senate quickly concurred.  It passed despite the lone Asheville Democrat in favor withdrawing his support after it was amended.

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A bill forcing districts on the city of Asheville needs several more votes before becoming law.  It's on the House schedule for Thursday, possibly the last day of session.  The bill is sponsored by Republican Senator Chuck Edwards of Hendersonville.

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Affordable housing may be the single biggest issue facing the city of Asheville at this time, as rents around the city to continue to rise while wages for workers do not.  Voters last fall okayed bonds to help the city start building more affordable housing.  But the first project Asheville lawmakers approved since then has been in the works for some time before that.

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A bill requiring the city of Asheville to adopt districts for the purpose of electing council members is one step closer to passage after picking up the key support of Rep. Brian Turner (D-Buncombe).  The bill put forward by Republican Senator Chuck Edwards of Hendersonville got support not only from Turner but from at least one Republican who opposed a similar bill from his predecessor, Senator Tom Apodoca, also of Hendersonville.  But Turner told BPR he would be unlikely to support the bill if an amendment he plans to introduce is not adopted.  

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The city of Asheville is one step closer to having districts for city council members.  A House committee passed a bill Wednesday to require just that.  And it appears to have picked up key support for eventual passage.

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The Asheville City Council this week approved a $175-million budget for the coming fiscal year which starts on July 1st.  The city police department was seeking an additional $1-million to hire more officers to patrol the downtown area which has seen a spike in crime.

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Asheville no longer has a 'Pit of Despair' but instead 68 Haywood Street.  That's the name city lawmakers gave the prominent piece of unused real estate downtown after surveying residents.  Other name suggestions included 'Site 68' and 'The Pit' (had the latter won the references from the NBC sitcom "Parks And Recreation" could have been endless).

The Asheville city council is scheduled to adopt a budget for the coming fiscal year at its next meeting on June 13th.  Among the many spending requests lawmakers received is one from the Asheville Police Department, which is seeking $1-million to hire 15 new officers.  Police chief Tammy Hooper says it's needed to address a surge in crime in the downtown area, most likely caused by increases in tourists visiting the city.

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The North Carolina Senate passed a controversial bill Wednesday night that splits Asheville into six districts for the purpose of electing city council members.   Senate Bill 285 is similar to one put forward by Hendersonville Republican Senator Tom Apodaca.  It would change the way voters choose city council members by creating six districts with voters allowed to choose only in their districts.  The mayor would still be elected at-large.  Apodaca’s bill died when a number of Republicans joined Democrats in voting no.  Now Apodaca’s successor, Republican Chuck Edwards, is trying again.

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