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Manheimer re-elected Asheville’s mayor; Vapoor, Smith, Wisler win in council race Vappor Va
Tuesday, 05 December 2017 00:40

From Staff Reports 

Incumbent Esther Manheimer ran away with the victory in Asheville’s mayoral race in the general election on Nov. 7.

With 81 percent of the vote, she defeated contender Martin Ramsey, who ran on a socialist platform with almost no campaign.

 In the race for City Council, Sheneika Smith, who campaigned on a platform of equity and justice for minorities, and incumbent Gwen Wisler won two of three available seats.

 Vijay Kapoor, however, was the top vote-getter. Kapoor is a resident of South Asheville, but he received strong support citywide, something he attributes to having dedicated volunteers working hard to reach all districts. He campaigned with a focus on neighborhoods, after successfully fighting a large, multifamily development slated for South Asheville.

 Also on the ballot was the question of whether citizens wanted to elect members of council by district. The North Carolina General Assembly had already passed local legislation requiring Asheville to be divided into districts for the purpose of electing council members. It is scheduled to go into effect for the 2019 election. The referendum, however, was part of the city’s legal strategy to challenge the legislation.

As some city political observers expected, it showed 75 percent of voters did not want district elections. The bill was 

Also helping the city’s defense was Kapoor’s victory. The bill was originally crafted by Republican legislators seeking conservative representation on council. Only in rare occasions do Republicans get elected, recent examples being Dr. Joe Dunn, Dr. Carl Mumpower, and Bill Russell, who changed his statu to “unaffiliated” midterm.

 Business interests in South Asheville, supporters of the legislation contended, did not have a voice in a predominantly progressive city. Dividing the city into districts would at least get one member on council who could speak to challenges of making payroll and staying profitable.

 Then, Kapoor, a Democrat from South Asheville, had the strongest showing of all candidates, shattering the idea that conservative-leaning South Asheville would necessarily elect a Republican when districts are created.

The bill to elect members of Asheville council by district became law when state Sen. Chuck Edwards, R-Henderson, successfully shephered it through the Republican-dominated General Assembly. (See related story on this page for Edwards’ reaction to Asheville’s referendum vote.)

 As of the Daily Planet’s Nov. 26 press deadline, the city had not filed a legal challenge. 

No announcement was made on whether or not the city had complied with instructions in the law to file a map of its electoral districts by Nov. 15, either. Mayor Esther Manheimer had previously said council was in no hurry to comply with the instructions.

 Retiring from council will be Gordon Smith, who decided not to seek re-election, and Cecil Bothwell, who threw his support behind Smith after Dee Williams narrowly defeated him in the primary on promises Bothwell called out as being beyond the scope of council’s power.

 Elsewhere in local elections, Don Collins was elected mayor of Black Mountain, with Ryan Stone and Jeremie Konegni as aldermen; Al Root will serve as Weaverville’s mayor, with Doug Jackson and Dottie Sherrill on Town Council; Ken Otto will serve on Montreat’s Board of Commissioners; and Brian Caskey defeated incumbent Larry Freeman in a bid for mayor of Mills River.



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