Sen Tom Apodaca
Representatives Susan Fisher, Brian Turner, John Ager vote to maintain the entrenched status quo.
Editorial- In a scene reminiscent of Brexit, whereby the British people voted to toss off the heavy hand of Belgian bureaucrats, Asheville unfortunately did the reverse. Sen Tom Apodaca’s efforts to restore more Democracy to the citizens of Asheville went down to an unexpected defeat on a 59-47 vote at the hands of entrenched bureaucratic interests in a highly charged debate. Reasons for the defeat are not clear at this point, except that emotions played a large part. Representatives Susan Fisher, Brian Turner, and John Ager all fought to insure the bill was defeated.
Apodaca’s bill #897 was designed to set up six city council districts, with the mayor continuing to be elected citywide. Currently, the council members are elected on an at-large vote, resulting in the outcome that all the representatives reside in a tight geographic area encompassing downtown Asheville and a little north. Thousands of citizens in south, west, and east Asheville have no representation at all. The bureaucratic powers have developed and hardwired their current system to ensure they retain control. To suggest that they might voluntarily seek a change is simply not realistic.
In addition, eight of the ten most populated cities in North Carolina use some sort of districting system to elect their city councils. And for good reason.
Anyone with a grasp for the obvious would be able to ascertain that a resident would like to have some sort of say-so with a council member from their own area. It’s not rocket science. Certainly, what the City has now is not working. Millions of dollars of storm-water ‘rain-tax’ funds are hidden from view, the Art Museum with the consent of the City has hijacked Pack Place, and personnel problems, including a police chief, have been lingering. Thousands of Asheville residents are frustrated that they have no voice in making any corrections.
Apodaca rightfully said that constituents in the south couldn’t remember the last time they had a member on council. Apodaca’s bill was morally and ethically the best solution to the problem. Overcoming segregation in the U.S. required a little governmental prodding. Unfortunately, in this case the prodding was overrun by the sheer number of weak willed thinkers in the NC House. It’s a shame.