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Asheville Will Look At Council Redistricting

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The Asheville city council will look at whether to redraw council districts in the city.  The decision to study potential redistricting does not mean new lines will be drawn.  Mayor Esther Manheimer says it’s just a chance to see whether voters think it should happen.

“We have just put in place an opportunity for people to weigh in on this", according the mayor.  "And it will be robust as usual with community meetings and online format to participate.”

Dates for those meetings have yet to be determined, though the mayor says they should be sooner rather than later.  That’s because the General Assembly could potentially take up the issue of Asheville redistricting again this session after a bill forcing new lines failed last year.  Legislators convene today in Raleigh, and Manheimer says a way to stop them from taking up the issue would be for the city to study it itself.  Councilman Cecil Bothwell is among those who think everything should stay the same.  He says Asheville is too small a city to be broken up into tiny individual districts instead of at-large seats that can be filled by anyone regardless of where they live.

“I think the problem is likely to be, if we break (the city) up into small election districts, they’ll be even less news coverage and less public debate", says Bothwell.  "We get little enough coverage of city elections as is.”

The council also postponed a hearing and potential vote on a proposed Embassy Suites hotel on Haywood Street in downtown.  The decision on the 185-room hotel which would alter the city’s skyline will now come January 24th.