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Legislature Asking For Public Input on Asheville Districts

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(Photo: North Carolina General Assembly, Information Systems Division) via Asheville Citizen-Times
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A version of Asheville City Council districts proposed in 2016 by then-state senator Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson. The current state law does not include maps or specific district lines.

The General Assembly is seeking input on drawing districts for Asheville City Council members.  There’s now a form on the legislative website that lets residents weigh in on criteria for the maps.  The idea is controversial.  It was put forward by Republican Senator Chuck Edwards of Hendersonville over the objections of all other state lawmakers representing Buncombe County.  Asheville voters overwhelmingly rejected the idea in a local referendum after the legislature passed Edward’s bill.

Asheville mayor Esther Manheimer responded to BPR's request for comment with the following: “It’s disappointing that Senator Edwards is moving forward with districting Asheville’s City Council seats when the voters have resoundingly rejected the proposal.”  BPR reached out to Sen. Edwards for comment and have not heard back.  

Edwards says districts would give residents of south Asheville a voice on the city council.  But voters did that anyway when they gave Vijay Kapoor of south Asheville the most votes in at-large council elections.  Critics say Edwards’ real goal is to elect Republicans.  The districts law gave Asheville officials the chance to draw the districts themselves and if they didn’t the legislature would do it for them.  Council members have taken no action and mayor Esther Manheimer says there is a legal strategy in place.    State lawmakers are back in session next month. 

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