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Asheville Mayor on HB2 Repeal, New Districts Bill

Max Cooper/Mountain XPress
Asheville mayor Esther Manheimer

In an interview with WCQS's Jeremy Loeb, Asheville mayor Esther Manheimer discusses legislative efforts to repeal House Bill 2, as well as a bill that could soon be filed that would split Asheville into districts for the purpose of electing city council members.

Efforts to repeal House Bill 2 remain stalled in the legislature.  A bill filed by Hendersonville Republican Rep. Chuck McGrady may be the best hope, with some bipartisan support.  But it still faces significant opposition.  Manheimer says she applauds McGrady's efforts to work for a bipartisan compromise, but she does have some issues with the bill, which would repeal HB2 but also subject anti-discrimination votes to likely voter referendums.

Meanwhile, a controversial bill that would split Asheville into districts for the purpose of electing city council members could be back before the General Assembly.  This after a similar bill failed in the last session.  That bill, filed by then-Senator Tom Apodaca of Hendersonville, was defeated in its last stop in the House.  Now, the Senator who took his place when  he retired, Republican Chuck Edwards, has sent an e-mail to Manheimer announcing his intention to file another bill.  Manheimer answered questions about that email.

Manheimer on a possible new Asheville districts bill

The full interview with Asheville mayor Esther Manheimer is below.

Full interview with Asheville mayor Esther Manheimer

Manheimer provided a copy of the Edwards e-mail upon request from WCQS.  WCQS reached out to Sen. Edwards for comment.  He has not yet responded.

From: Sen. Chuck Edwards [mailto:Chuck.Edwards@ncleg.net]
Sent: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 1:19 PM
To: esthermanheimer@avlcouncil.com
Subject: Tonight's City Council Meeting [#100171]

Dear Mayor Manheimer,

It has come to my attention that it is the intent of the Asheville City Council, maybe as early as tonight- to conduct discussions to the "possibility" and mechanics of partitioning the city into districts for the purpose of municipal elections. I applaud the openness of the council to engage this topic. I further understand that the matter may be tabled and no actionable items may take place.

Having learned this and out of respect for the time and possibly the monetary resources of your council, I wanted to inform you of my intent to soon file a bill in the Senate that will require Asheville to conduct district elections. It will also provide that 'six' will be the number of required districts. It will offer some flexibility for your counsel to determine the geography of the districts. I am open to realistic conversation as to the timing of the requirements. I am confident that this measure will pass both the Senate and the House.

As a courtesy I am informing you of this intent with the hope that your discussion may revolve more around "how" to district, and forego the discussion of "should" we district. My actions are the result of trends taking place in municipalities as well as a great deal of feedback from citizens of Buncombe County.

If I or the resources of the General Assembly may assist you in the development of your district plans please do not hesitate to call on me.

With Highest Regards,

Chuck Edwards, SENATOR
NC 48th District; Henderson, Transylvania, South Buncombe Counties
(919) 733-5745 Raleigh Office
(828) 785-4177 District Office

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