Many Asheville residents have come to me with questions and concerns regarding the S285 Equal Representation for Asheville which passed earlier this year. Many citizens are confused because the bill was passed, yet the city is insisting on putting a similar referendum on their November 7th ballot. Senate Bill 285 was passed in April of this year. It provides that the City of Asheville must amend its Election Charter creating six single member voting districts for city council elections, meaning that there will be one city councilman from each of the six different voting areas creating in the voting map. This change to the Charter is to be completed by November 1, 2017. In addition to the change in the Election Charter, the City Council has until November 15, 2017 to provide the General Assembly with a copy of the Charter changes and the proposed map of the districts.
The City Council, all along, has resisted this movement. Apparently for the reason that they do not believe that each of their citizens deserve to be represented fairly based on geographic location. The most recent actions of their resistance is their determination to place a referendum on the November ballot, in which citizens will be asked to either choose to obey the law by changing to the single-member districts or maintain the status quo. It is apparent through their actions and statements to the media, that the addition of this referendum is nothing more than an attempt to challenge the General Assembly in court in an effort to maintain status quo.
I believe the law should prevail. The courts are likely to agree with me and uphold this legislation, but we cannot ever be certain what they may decide. The single best thing that could happen in order for the citizens of Asheville to get the equal representation that they deserve, is for this referendum to pass.
If the referendum fails I believe the City of Asheville is prepared to spend their tax payers’ dollars to avoid following the law passed by the General Assembly. Additionally it will almost certainly delay the required districted elections in 2019.
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