Incumbent Asheville City Councilman Cecil Bothwell failed to finish in the top six vote-getters in Tuesday’s primary election, while newcomer Vijay Kapoor ran away with the top spot.
Newcomer Sheneika Smith followed Kapoor in second, while incumbent Vice Mayor Gwen Wisler came in third. Dee Williams, who has run for Buncombe County commissioner in the past, was fourth. Rich Lee, who ran for City Council two years ago but just missed the cut, finished fifth.
It was newcomer Kim Roney, a West Asheville piano teacher and transit activist, who edged out Bothwell by 106 votes. Roney had been running just behind Bothwell all night long as election results were posted, then pulled away as the final few precincts were reported.
Bothwell was first elected to Asheville City Council in 2009, and was re-elected again in 2013. He’s been an outspoken member of council on a variety of issues. Last year, Bothwell announced that he was leaving the Democratic Party over presidential politics. He was highly critical of the party and its actions in the presidential primary featuring Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and went so far as to call Clinton a “felon.”
Bothwell has urged city council to take strong stances in favor of the environment, and favored a public park on a piece of city-owned property near the Basilica of St. Lawrence in downtown.
City Council’s other incumbent, Wisler, finished third to two newcomers in Kapoor and Smith. Kapoor, a south Asheville resident, has tapped into residents’ concerns over growth and development. He helped south Asheville residents get organized to oppose a proposed apartment complex. Smith, a community organizer, has run on a platform of bringing racial and social justice leadership to City Council.
In the race for mayor, incumbent Esther Manheimer cruised to a first-place finish over Martin Ramsey. Jonathan Wainscott finished third. Jonathan Glover’s name remained on the ballot, but he announced earlier that he was pulling out of the contest.
The general election will be held Nov. 7.
Vote totals in 2017 Asheville City Council primary election
Vijay Kapoor: 5,637
Sheneika E. Smith: 4,102
Gwen Wisler: 3,614
Dee Williams: 3,408
Rich Lee: 3,182
Kim Roney: 3,172
Cecil Bothwell: 3,066
Jeremy Goldstein: 2,380
Adrian Vassallo: 1,362
Pratik Bhakta: 1,165
Andrew Fletcher: 545
Jan (Howard) Kubiniec: 320
Esther Manheimer 8,488
Martin Ramsey 1,719
Jonathan Wainscott 531
Jonathan Austin Glover 278