Asheville City Council

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This week's Asheville primary yielded a few surprising results, but the issues that were driving voters to the polls should come as no shock to anyone who follows city politics.  South Asheville businessman Vijay Kapoor was by far the top vote getter in the city council primary, which whittled the number of candidates from 12 to 6 for next month's general election.  Kapoor's showing is a sign the neighborhood he hails from is becoming a burgeoning force in Asheville politics according to Citizen-Times reporter Joel Burgess, who covers city government.  He says growth of Asheville was what

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Asheville mayor Esther Manheimer and Vice Mayor Gwen Wisler advanced to next month's general election in the city, but outspoken city council Cecil Bothwell fell just short in his quest for another term.  The primary whittled down the number of mayoral candidates from four to two, and city council candidates from 12 to six.  Those remaining face off in the general election, which will be held on November 7th.

Tuesday is primary election day for the city of Asheville.  Up for election this year are the mayor's office, and three city council seats currently held Cecil Bothwell, Gwen Wisler, and Gordon Smith.  Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.  More information can be found here. 

The top two finishers in the mayoral primary and the top six in the city council primary will advance to the November 7th general election.  

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Asheville voters will decide this fall whether they want city council districts or the current system of electing members at-large.  That’s even though the North Carolina General Assembly already passed a measure forcing the city to draw districts for the 2019 election.

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The filing deadline is noon on Friday July 21st for candidates wishing to run for offices in this fall's municipal elections in Buncombe County.  Asheville, Black Mountain, Montreat, Weaverville, and Woodfin will all be holding elections this fall for mayor, city council, town council, or board of alderman seats (Woodfin will also hold an election for its Sanitary Water & Sewer District Board of Trustees).

Jeremy Loeb/BPR

Speaking to BPR a day after the legislature passed a bill forcing districts for Asheville city council members, mayor Esther Manheimer said there is a legal strategy in place to deal with them.  Manheimer said the issue would need to be discussed at the next council meeting on July 25th.

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The long-debated Asheville districts bill is now law.  The North Carolina House passed the bill forcing districts for Asheville city council members, and the Senate quickly concurred.  It passed despite the lone Asheville Democrat in favor withdrawing his support after it was amended.

Down to the Wire for Asheville Districts Bill

Jun 27, 2017
Jeremy Loeb/BPR

A bill forcing districts on the city of Asheville needs several more votes before becoming law.  It's on the House schedule for Thursday, possibly the last day of session.  The bill is sponsored by Republican Senator Chuck Edwards of Hendersonville.

City of Asheville

Affordable housing may be the single biggest issue facing the city of Asheville at this time, as rents around the city to continue to rise while wages for workers do not.  Voters last fall okayed bonds to help the city start building more affordable housing.  But the first project Asheville lawmakers approved since then has been in the works for some time before that.

Jeremy Loeb/BPR

A bill requiring the city of Asheville to adopt districts for the purpose of electing council members is one step closer to passage after picking up the key support of Rep. Brian Turner (D-Buncombe).  The bill put forward by Republican Senator Chuck Edwards of Hendersonville got support not only from Turner but from at least one Republican who opposed a similar bill from his predecessor, Senator Tom Apodoca, also of Hendersonville.  But Turner told BPR he would be unlikely to support the bill if an amendment he plans to introduce is not adopted.  

Jeremy Loeb/BPR

The city of Asheville is one step closer to having districts for city council members.  A House committee passed a bill Wednesday to require just that.  And it appears to have picked up key support for eventual passage.

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The Asheville City Council this week approved a $175-million budget for the coming fiscal year which starts on July 1st.  The city police department was seeking an additional $1-million to hire more officers to patrol the downtown area which has seen a spike in crime.

Matt Bush BPR

Asheville no longer has a 'Pit of Despair' but instead 68 Haywood Street.  That's the name city lawmakers gave the prominent piece of unused real estate downtown after surveying residents.  Other name suggestions included 'Site 68' and 'The Pit' (had the latter won the references from the NBC sitcom "Parks And Recreation" could have been endless).

The Asheville city council is scheduled to adopt a budget for the coming fiscal year at its next meeting on June 13th.  Among the many spending requests lawmakers received is one from the Asheville Police Department, which is seeking $1-million to hire 15 new officers.  Police chief Tammy Hooper says it's needed to address a surge in crime in the downtown area, most likely caused by increases in tourists visiting the city.

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The North Carolina Senate passed a controversial bill Wednesday night that splits Asheville into six districts for the purpose of electing city council members.   Senate Bill 285 is similar to one put forward by Hendersonville Republican Senator Tom Apodaca.  It would change the way voters choose city council members by creating six districts with voters allowed to choose only in their districts.  The mayor would still be elected at-large.  Apodaca’s bill died when a number of Republicans joined Democrats in voting no.  Now Apodaca’s successor, Republican Chuck Edwards, is trying again.

Asheville Districts Bill Passes Committee

Apr 25, 2017
ncleg.net

A bill that would carve Asheville into districts for the purpose of electing city council members passed its first committee Tuesday night.  The controversial measure is opposed by most Asheville-area lawmakers, as well as city council members and the mayor.  Its sponsor is Republican Senator Chuck Edwards of Hendersonville, who represents a small part of south Asheville.  The bill mandates the city draw up 6 districts for electing council members.  Voters in those districts could vote for only those running in their district.  The mayor would still be elected at-large.

Two major park projects are slowly but surely coming together in Asheville.  One is Overlook Park, which could provide stunning view of the city.  But there's one hitch - the city has not provided any funding for the park (yet).  Volunteers are looking for grants and donations currently to get the process started.

Voters in the city of Asheville could have the final say as early as this fall on whether city council seats will remain elected at-large.  A bill in the General Assembly filed by Republican senator Chuck Edwards would make the city draw up election districts for the six council seats.  Separate of that legislation, the current Asheville city council commissioned a poll to see what voters thought of a potential switch.  The conflicting results came back

Jeremy Loeb/BPR

A bill introduced in the General Assembly would split Asheville into districts for the purpose of electing city council members.  It’s sponsored by Republican Senator Chuck Edwards of Hendersonville, who represents a small portion of south Asheville, an area that hasn’t been represented on city council in some time.  BPR has made repeated attempts to speak with Edwards, but he declined in an email response, saying he’d talk “perhaps after the bill is passed.”  Vijay Kapoor is a resident of south Asheville and an announced candidate for city council.  He wrote an op-ed in Sunday’s Citizen-Times critical of the bill.  He spoke with BPR about it.

Fate of Edwards' Asheville Districts Bill Uncertain

Mar 27, 2017
ncleg.net

The last bill former Hendersonville Republican Tom Apodaca put forth before he retired would have split Asheville into districts for the purpose of electing city council members.  It was opposed by every other lawmaker representing the city, as well as the mayor and entire city council.  In a stinging defeat for the longtime senator, it failed in its final vote in the House.  Now his successor, Republican Senator Chuck Edwards, is trying again.  Edwards declined requests from BPR to talk about the bill, saying in an e-mailed response he’d talk “perhaps after the bill is passed.”  But WUNC capitol reporter Jeff Tiberii caught up with Edwards on the Senate floor.

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A busy week in Asheville city politics is wrapping up.  First, Republican state senator Chuck Edwards introduced a bill that would create city council districts in Asheville.  Currently all city council seats in Asheville are elected at-large, meaning anyone living anywhere in the city can run for any one of them.

Asheville Mayor on HB2 Repeal, New Districts Bill

Mar 2, 2017
Max Cooper/Mountain XPress

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.

Parks Hospitality Group

Tuesday night the Asheville city council rejected a major hotel project in downtown along Haywood Street.  An 8-story Embassy Suites hotel would have occupied the former spot of the Buncombe County Sheriff's office.  By a unanimous vote the council voted down the plan, one of the few times a hotel project has been stopped in Asheville during the boom of the area's tourism industry.

Asheville Will Look At Council Redistricting

Jan 10, 2017

The Asheville city council will look at whether to redraw council districts in the city.  The decision to study potential redistricting does not mean new lines will be drawn.  Mayor Esther Manheimer says it’s just a chance to see whether voters think it should happen.

“We have just put in place an opportunity for people to weigh in on this", according the mayor.  "And it will be robust as usual with community meetings and online format to participate.”

The Asheville city council meets Tuesday evening, and two major items are on the agenda for lawmakers.

VIDEO: Roy Cooper Talks Education, HB2 in WNC

Sep 17, 2016
Jeremy Loeb/BPR

NC Gubernatorial candidate Roy Cooper paid a visit to Fairview on Saturday.  The Democratic Attorney General addressed dozens of Democrats at the home of state Rep. John Ager in what was billed as a "candidates meet and greet."  He was scheduled to attend a fundraiser later in the day.  

Cooper started his remarks talking about public education.  "People are hungry for leaders who truly believe in public education and will do something about it instead of just talking about it."

ashevilleblade.com

After the surprise defeat of Senate Bill 897, a bill that would have divided Asheville into districts for city council elections, many were left wondering just what had happened.  I've analyzed the bill in several articles linked to below.  Several days before the bill failed, David Forbes, editor of the Asheville Blade, published an article examining the history of the effort.  We discussed that article after the bill's failure.  The interview was conducted Tuesday morning, July 5th, and before this latest

Asheville Citizen-Times

Political observers and the public alike were scratching their heads after a bill that would impose districts on the city of Asheville for city council elections failed.  The bill was being pushed by a powerful state lawmaker and had sailed through two committees and the full Senate with little but Democratic resistance.  And then, on its last stop in the full House, all of that changed.  Debate seemed to persuade lawmakers at the last minute, and that is something rarely seen in politics today.  But in truth, there were probably multiple factors at play, and they had occurred not just over

In a stunning defeat, the North Carolina House voted down a bill that would have made changes to the Asheville city council.  

Senate Bill 897 was introduced by Republican Senator Tom Apodaca of Henderson County over the strong objection of the entire city council and all other state lawmakers representing Buncombe County.   It would split Asheville into six districts drawn by the General Assembly for the purpose of electing council members.  But the bill failed by a vote of 48-58. 

Part 1: House Votes Down AVL Districts Bill

Jul 1, 2016

This is part 1 of the hour and twenty minute long debate over SB897, which would have divided Asheville into six districts for the purpose of electing city council members.  In a stunning defeat, the bill fell by a vote of 48-58, after debate appeared to lead some lawmakers to change their mind.

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