2017 promises to be another big election year in Asheville. Candidates are already at work lining up campaigns for four Asheville City Council spots, including the mayor’s seat. There’s talk about changing the way city residents elect folks to council. (And there may also be statewide elections, depending on what the courts decide.)
But to focus on Asheville City Council: there are four seats up this year. Those seats are held by Mayor Esther Manheimer and Council members Gwen Wisler, Gordon Smith and Cecil Bothwell.
Asheville City Council elections are nonpartisan races. Candidates serve staggered four-year terms.
So who might be running for Asheville City Council in Election ’17? So far there’s been no word from the incumbents on whether any of them will run for re-election. Smith and Bothwell are both finishing up their second terms after first being elected in 2009. Manheimer and Wisler are finishing their first terms after being elected in the 2013 round.
Rich Lee, a financial advisor, was runner-up in the 2015 City Council elections. He is widely believed to be running again this time around. Lee has been active in his East/West Asheville neighborhood. In his 2015 run, Lee named issues regarding jobs, the affordability of living in the city and social justice topics as important to him. Parks and greenways are another key topic for Lee.
How about other candidates from the 2015 race? Here are a few names from the field of 15 people in the 2015 primary that could pop back up: Corey Atkins, John Miall, Ken Michalove, Grant Millin, Dee Williams, LaVonda Payne, Lindsey Simerly and Carl Mumpower.
Here are two newcomers whose names I’ve heard discussed:
Kim Roney: Roney is a music teacher who gives private piano lessons, has held jobs at a variety of restaurant/bar venues around Asheville and has been active with the grassroots, independent radio station Asheville FM for several years.
Sheneika Smith: Smith is founder of a social organization called Date My City that aims to highlight African-American history and empower communities of color in Asheville. She’s an experienced nonprofit planner.
The last round of City Council elections in 2015 saw three newcomers elected: Bryan Haynes, Keith Young and Julie Mayfield. We’ll see what happens…