Staff Reports- On June 29, 2017 the North Carolina General Assembly passed SB 285which was an “Act Directing the City of Asheville to Create Electoral Districts.” Section 1.(a) stated that, “By November 1, 2017, the City of Asheville shall amend its charter to create six single-member electoral districts governing the nomination and election of City Council members. A candidate who seeks office shall represent the district in which the candidate resides.” The Act also stated that if the city failed to establish such districts, then the General Assembly would devise the districts as require.
This Act seems very clear and straight forward. Unfortunately, the City Council chose simply to ignore the Act and in doing so to completely disobey the law, much like many cities are doing in trying to declare they are ‘sanctuary’ cities. Instead they devised a ‘scheme’ to hold a referendum to try to muster political support for their own views. It is well known that the north Asheville area has been well organized over past decades and hence wields undue power and influence over city elections, and any referendums as well. Few, if any candidates, from South, East, West, or Central Asheville have been elected to City Council over the past decade. Basically, the City’s flouting of the law just wasted taxpayers time and money.
Inevitably, a lawsuit or two will evolve. It is rumored that several citizen groups are discussing it, as well as the NAACP, who recently considered serious racist violations of a similar matter in Jones County, NC. “Countywide elections in Jones County show a clear pattern of racially-polarized voting, the lawsuit stated, alleging that the voting system dilutes the black vote in Jones County, which would be a Voting Rights Act violation. Can the City of Asheville be far behind?