Asheville City Council appointed attorney Antanette Mosley to a vacant city council seat Tuesday. Mosley will fill the seat Vijay Kapoor resigned earlier this summer after he and his family moved away from Asheville.
Council members interviewed six candidates before Tuesday's meeting, after dozens had applied for it. Councilwoman Shaneika Smith nominated Mosley during the actual meeting. "I think she'll bring a lot of valuable perspective to our deliberation, based on her lived experience as a fifth-generation native, and her careet experience as a successful Black female attorney," Smith said of Mosley after nominating her. Mosley, who is the now the second Black woman on council along with Smith, has been an attorney with the Atlanta-based firm Alston & Bird, LLC since June of last year. She also worked for them from February 2007 to April 2016. In between, she served as the director of philanthropy for Mountain Housing Opportunities in Asheville.
The other candidate nominated during Tuesday's council meeting was Rob Thomas, the head of the local Racial Justice Coalition. That group was among the leaders of protests in Asheville following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. Those protests culminated with a list of demands from the group Black AVL Demands which included reducing the Asheville police department's budget by 50%, with the money then invested into the city's Black community. The council vote was 4-2 in favor of Mosley, with Smith, Julie Mayfield, vice mayor Gwen Wisler, and mayor Esther Manheimer voting for her. Council members Brian Haynes and Keith Young voted for Thomas. Mosley will be sworn-in by the next council meeting, which is September 22nd.
In her application for the position, Mosley responded to a question asking whether she supported the call to cut the city police department's budget by 50%. Her response - "This intergenerational group of Black Ashevillians has brought forth cogent ideas for the advancement of the community. I firmly embrace investment in 'long-term safety strategies including supporting Black starts-ups/businesses, eliminating the racial opportunity gap in schools, and funding an all-civilian oversight committee to hold the APD and individual officers accountable' as promulgated by these activists. Interestingly, these demands perfectly gel with the Council's 2036 Vision. Fundamentally stated, Asheville cannot and will not become a truly equitable and diverse society until intentional investment in the Black community occurs. Given the long history of oppression, each and every policy-making undertaking must have an eye toward the advancement of the Black community."
The other finalists interviewed by council prior to Tuesday's meeting were ZaKiya Bell-Rogers, Pratik Bhakta, Rich Lee, and Sandra Kilgore. Lee and Kilgore are among six candidates vying for three council seats in the November general election. They're joined on the ballot by Young (the lone incumbent running for City Council), Sage Turner, Kim Roney, and Nicole Townsend. Townsend announced last month she's ending her candidacy, but her name will still be on the ballot.