Fight Asheville City Council Districting!

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Fight the Districting of Asheville City Council Elections!

The Back Story:

Infamous for gerrymandering, the North Carolina General Assembly has a long history of carving districts to choose voters that will keep them in power, instead of common-sense lines that favor voters and protect democracy. Lawsuits across the state have shown that gerrymandering continues today, and must be challenged. Battles are being started and won, except in a city that has state-imposed districts opposed by 75% of voters in recent referendum: Asheville.

In 2018, Senator Chuck Edwards put forward Senate Bill 813, the bill that split the Asheville city council elections into five districts and one at-large seat. The bill passed with bipartisan support led by Senator Terry Van Duyn, who added a move to even-year elections starting in 2020.

What does this mean for Asheville voters?

This bill is now the law, regardless of the 2017 referendum where 75% of Asheville voters showed their disapproval of district elections. We will not have local elections in 2019 or 2021, so all current members of Asheville City Council will serve an additional year in their term. On a lengthy 2020 ballot, districted local elections for Council will be last on the list.

The first three seats to be decided will be: the single at-large seat; District 1 serving the farthest West Asheville; and District 2 which includes East-West Asheville, the River Arts District, and the Southside into Downtown. Due to another amendment, there will not be primaries or run-offs, which means a relatively small number of voters will choose representatives that make decisions impacting the entire city.

For example:

Say eight people decide to run for a city council seat. Without a primary to narrow the field, and no minimum percentage of the vote needed to win, a candidate could be elected with a mere 15-20% of the vote. And if that’s a district election, that might be 3-4% of all voters.

Another example:

Picture a major development happening across the street from your home or business, where your neighbors and even your own district council member have objections, but four of seven votes on Asheville City Council grant approval. You would not be able to hold them accountable with your vote because they are not in your district. This is a worst-case scenario, but 4-3 votes happen in controversial votes on Council all the time.

We need our Council to direct the City Attorney to fight the districting of Asheville NOW!

Asheville needs a united Council to be held accountable by all of us to lead us forward. This means balancing our needs and hearing our shared values. We do not want Council to protect its efforts to maintain power, and we do not want our tax dollars to be wasted by redrawing gerrymandered lines in perpetuity. We want Council to protect our right to hold all of our representatives accountable. This means amendment of our City charter.

Take action today:

First, sign this petition! Then, email City Council and ask them to “fight the districting of Asheville City Council elections!" Email: ashevilleNCcouncil@ashevilleNC.gov


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