Asheville city council will decide Tuesday whether to defy a state bill that forces the city to use districts for future city council elections.
Council members will vote Tuesday evening on two amendments to the city charter. One of those would mandate that Asheville elect council seats at-large, while the other would re-institute non-partisan primaries before the General Election. That was the system used in the last city council election in 2017. The Republican-controlled General Assembly the follwing year passed a bill forcing districts to be implemented, with just one council seat and mayor (also a part of city council) elected at-large. Its supporters said districts would ensure that all parts of Asheville are represented on council. But opponents claimed the measure was an attempt by GOP lawmakers to dilute the city’s progressive politics, as there have been no Republicans on council in recent years.
Republican state senator Chuck Edwards, who sponsored the 2018 districts bill in the General Assembly, hasn’t said yet whether he will introduce another bill to thwart the new charter amendments should city council approve them at the Tuesday meeting, which starts at 5 p.m.
Something else that General Assembly bill did was move Asheville city council elections to even-numbered years, meaning the next election takes place in 2020 instead of this fall. A third candidate has now announced they’re running for a seat next year, even though the sytem used to determine the election hasn't been decided. Nicole Townsend announced over the weekend she is running for council, joining Shane McCarthy and Kristen Goldsmith in the field. Three city council seats will be on the ballot next year, and at least one of them will be open. Current Councilwoman Julie Mayfield is instead running for state senate. Council members Keith Young and Brian Haynes seats will also be up for election, and neither has announced their 2020 intentions yet.