Newly-Vacant Council Seat Just Out Of Voters' Grasp

Jul 27, 2020

The official date of Asheville city councilman Vijay Kapoor’s resignation is significant in how his seat will be filled.  As it stands, Kapoor’s colleagues will pick his replacement - not the public.

Kapoor announced last week that he planned to resign on August 8th.  That date falls within 90 days of the November 3rd general election.  

 

That’s significant, because if he had done it three days earlier, the decision would be up to Asheville voters, via special election. 

State elections law says if a council vacancy happens more than 90 days before the next election -- in November -- the successor should be chosen during a special election in that time.  

 

City officials responded in a press release Tues., saying the city's charter supercdedes state law, if and when the two are at odds.  

 

"The timing of the vacancy has no effect on this legal requirement.  Therefore, the City’s charter precludes any special election, regardless of when the Council vacancy occurs," the release said.   

 

Kapoor announced in March he would be resigning as he and his family are moving out of the area, but did not give a definitive date.

 

The Asheville chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America is decrying the move on Facebook -- alleging that Kapoor and council intentionally delayed his resignation to avoid an election and to maintain a “moderate” majority. 

 

Kapoor denies that claim. 

 

“Asheville always has a tendency to ask questions of it’s elected officials, I think it’s a perfectly reasonable question to ask. But no, my goal here was to be able to stay in Asheville to stay as long as we possibly could,” Kapoor said. 

 

Mayor Esther Manheimmer says it’s unclear how the law actually applies to Asheville because it’s one of a few cities holding only even-year elections. In a statement, the Mayor says the resignation decision is up to Kapoor and his family, and she “supports them in that process.”

 

The remainder of his unfinished term runs until December 2022. 

 

The city will begin accepting applications for the vacant seat on Aug. 3. 

Council's next meeting is tomorrow, July 27.