Esther Manheimer

(Photo: North Carolina General Assembly, Information Systems Division) via Asheville Citizen-Times

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.

Updated 6:00am 12/21:  The Metropolitan Sewerage District has voted down a proposal to expand its board with 3 seats for Henderson County.  The 10-1 vote reflected the belief of board members that giving Henderson the same number of seats as Asheville would create an imbalance because Asheville customers make up a majority of those served.  There's also lingering mistrust after the state legislature tried to take over the Asheville water system and turn it over to MSD.

Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer got a resounding vote of confidence earlier this month, winning re-election with more than 80% of the vote.  She stopped by BPR to speak with Jeremy Loeb about the election results and to look forward to her second four-year term.  She also discussed possible actions the city might take in response to a legislative effort to force districts for council members, something Asheville voters overwhelmingly rejected.

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.

Jeremy Loeb/WCQS

Impact fees are imposed by cities and counties on developers to help pay for infrastructure costs associated with new development.  For example, if a hotel is built a city or county might impose a fee to help pay for any necessary traffic lights, roads, water needs, etc.  HB436 would outlaw the practice.  It was filed by the powerful House Speaker Pro Tem Sarah Stevens of Mt. Airy.  Its only other co-sponsor is Bryson City Republican Mike Clampitt.

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.

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.

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.”

North Carolina has already lost a series of college sports tournaments because of opposition to House Bill 2. The NCAA and Atlantic Coast Conference announced last week they are pulling 17 events from the state for this academic year.  

Now the fate of another event is uncertain.  Southern Conference officials are considering whether to relocate the basketball tournament scheduled to take place March 2-6, 2017 in Asheville, because of the state's controversial law that limits non-discrimination protection for LGBT people.  


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.  Apodaca is considered one of the most powerful lawmakers in the General Assembly.  But this bill went down by a vote of 48-58.

Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer says City Council will consider a resolution on North Carolina House Bill 2 on April 12th expressing "disappointment" in the legislation.  In an interview with WCQS, Manheimer called the bill an overreach and an inappropriate reaction to Charlotte passing an ordinance.

Erin Brethauer/Black Mountain News

Asheville mayor Esther Manheimer is taking the helm of a coalition of mayors across the state.  Manheimer was elected chairwoman of the North Carolina Metropolitan Mayors Coalition.  She was previously vice-chair.  The coalition of dozens of mayors from the state's larger municipalities works to be an advocate for the interest of cities in the legislature.  The coalition will be busy during the legislative session beginning in April of next year.  A number of bills could affect cities and towns.  She noted examples of successes in the

Jeremy Loeb/WCQS

Duke Energy will replace its coal plant in Asheville with two smaller gas units rather than one large one as originally planned.  The move comes after the public flooded Duke with more than 9,000 comments over proposed transmission lines through the western Carolinas.  Duke says the transmission lines will no longer be necessary.  A third plant could be built in 2023 if the company finds it necessary.  Plans to install solar panels at the site remain unchanged. 

Young, Haynes, Mayfield Elected to Asheville City Council

Nov 3, 2015
Jeremy Loeb/WCQS

The only incumbent in the race for Asheville city council lost as three new faces will join the council.  Unofficial results from Tuesday's election (as of midnight) show Keith Young finishing first with 18.22% of the vote.  Brian Haynes finished a close second with 18.08%.  And in third was Julie Mayfield with 17.65%, despite finishing first in the primary.  The race was for three seats on the city council, so those three are the winners.

Asheville Citizen-Times

*Updated 5:00 AM Wednesday*


Asheville Mayor No Fan of Senate Sales Tax Plan

Jun 23, 2015
Max Cooper/Mountain XPress

State lawmakers in the House and Senate are trying to reconcile two competing budget plans.  The Senate plan includes a change to the way sales taxes are distributed to favor rural counties over more urban ones like Wake, Mecklenburg, and Buncombe.  WCQS’s Jeremy Loeb spoke with Asheville mayor Esther Manheimer about what the plan would mean for Buncombe County and the city of Asheville.   They also touched on the city budget and county room tax.