Ashvegas Political Hit List: West Asheville apartment vote, Asheville City Council candidates, more

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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Ashvegas: The City You Love. The News You Want.By James Harrison

Back for another round, here’s your latest headlines in all things politics.

Local leaders determine the relationship

At a breakfast meeting this week, Mayor Esther Manheimer presented local legislators with a list of Asheville’s legislative priorities for the upcoming session. It was the first meeting between local and state lawmakers since November’s midterm elections, and Asheville Citizen-Times reporter Joel Burgess reported a “slight thaw” between the two groups.

West Asheville apartment vote looms

Asheville’s continuing debate over affordable housing will shift focus next week, as City Council members consider a proposed block of apartments on Hazel Mill Road. A developer with the project has requested a zoning change in order to build, which has been met with resistance from residents. Many have asked that infrastructure improvements like sidewalks be added to the area if the development goes through, and Councilman Cecil Bothwell has said he will not support the plan unless sidewalks are included. For more details on the hearing, see Jake Frankel’s report in Mountain Xpress.

Bothwell pleads guilty

Speaking of Bothwell, last week the councilman pleaded guilty to his connection with a DWI charge last summer. A judge gave Bothwell a 30-day suspended sentence, one year of unsupervised probation and 24 hours of community service. His license is also suspended for one year. The councilman was pulled over in June on the way back to Asheville from Black Mountain. For a report on the incident, see the Citizen-Times.

Who’s running?

Ready for the next round? The latest from Ashvegas suggests at least three people are considering bids for City Council in 2015. Among them—James Bullman, a homeless man who “made his candidacy known on social media,” Rich Lee, who has been active in ongoing community efforts in East West Asheville, and Julie Mayfield, a co-executive director of Western North Carolina Alliance. Whose seats are up for grabs? Those occupied by council members Jan Davis, Marc Hunt and Chris Pelly. None of the three incumbents have said whether or not they plan to run. Bring on the new year.

Commission swearing

This week’s meeting of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners included lots of swearing. The meeting saw Miranda Debruhl sworn in as the group’s newest member, with Commissioners Ellen Frost, Brownie Newman and sheriff Van Duncan also taking oaths. After the ceremony, commissioners voted to elect Republican Joe Belcher to serve as the group’s vice chairman. The vote was significant, as Belcher is one of two Republicans on the Democratic-controlled board. Commissioner David Gantt, a Democrat, provided the swing vote to give Belcher the edge. For a complete rundown of the meeting, see this report in Mountain Xpress by Cameron Huntley. Or, you can watch a replay of the entire event here (warning, contains swearing).

Redistricting ruminations

How big a role did Republican gerrymandering play in the outcome of this year’s elections? A pretty big one, according to a Citizen-Times report this week from Mark Barrett. According to the analysis, the majority of House and Senate seats across the state were not even “in play,” with many elections featuring only one candidate. Cause for concern? Depends on who you ask. See the story here, which includes quotes from state Sen. Tom Apodaca and state Sen. Bob Rucho, who chaired the redistricting process.

Immigration litigation

Gov. Pat McCrory added North Carolina to a group of 17 states suing over President Barack Obama’s recent executive order on immigration this week. According to this report from Raleigh news station WNCN, McCrory isn’t seeking any monetary damages, but rather the ability to block the president’s actions from taking effect across the state.

McCrory 2016

In case it wasn’t your homepage, it’s worth noting that Gov. Pat McCrory’s re-election campaign website went live this week. It includes a video of Gov. McCrory happily defending his tenure in office thus far, titled “Bold Leadership.” Watch it here.

Infrastructure intentions

It’s also worth noting the governor announced at least $532 million slated for transportation projects in Western North Carolina over the next decade. Projects include widening I-26 near South Carolina, construction of the I-26 connector in Asheville, widening the stretch between I-26 to I-40 between Long Shoals Road and the I-40 interchange, widening Sweeten Creek Road, a new bridge over the French Broad River, and more. The majority of the projects for Buncombe County are not slated to begin for nearly a decade. For more details, see this Citizen-Times report.

Speaker Moore

Now that Thom Tillis is headed to the U.S. Senate, it looks like state Rep. Tim Moore will soon be filling his seat as House Speaker. Moore, a Republican from Kings Mountain, was picked by House Republicans last week during a caucus meeting. He was one of six candidates vying for the spot, and is expected to be officially elected to the position once lawmakers reconvene in Raleigh come January. Following his nomination, Moore celebrated with Gov. Pat McCrory over plates of barbecue in Shelby. According to this report from the Raleigh News & Observer, the race for House Speaker was contentious.

Hagan surfaces

In her first comments since being handed defeat, outgoing U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan told McClatchy’s Washington bureau that she wished President Barack Obama had done more boasting about the state of the American economy during this year’s elections. Would that have helped her in a state where the president’s approval ratings were lower than a snake’s belly in a mile-deep pit? OK, some exaggeration there, but his approval was low. Hagan also said she plans to spend more time with her family once she leaves Washington, and did not rule out the possibility of return to the political arena one day.

See ya next week!

James Harrison recently returned to Asheville after working as a government reporter for, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Follow him on Twitter at @jharrisonAVL.

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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  1. Matt December 8, 2014

    25 hours of “community service.” That’s ironic.

    1. Big Al December 9, 2014

      Want irony? With a one-year suspension of his NCDL, he will definitely have greater motivation to speak out for more sidewalks.

    2. cwaster December 12, 2014

      25 hours… that seems like the bare minimum. Your average person gets a lot more than that. Hmmm.

  2. Tim Peck December 8, 2014

    “And then they can all continue to sit back & laugh at Asheville.”

    It’s pretty much a continuous yawning guffaw from where I sit.

    1. hauntedheadnc December 8, 2014

      Of course it is, because you seem to draw your life force from hate — your hatred of this place where you live, and the disgust you incite in others with your relentlessly nasty, thuggish persona.

      Why are you here? Seriously, there is nothing about this city you seem to approve of, so why did you come here and why have you stayed?

      1. Tim Peck December 10, 2014

        I’m just saying that we’re all laughing. It’s a perpetual laughfest.

        1. hauntedheadnc December 10, 2014

          And we’re all just saying on here that if you ever were to find something about Asheville that you approved of, you’d immediately drop dead of a brain aneurysm.

          So hop to it. We’re getting tired of waiting.

          1. Tim Peck December 13, 2014

            You can’t hide behind “we,” Mr…whatever your name is. However, in your inability to present a cogent argument, you do share in the intellectual treasure chest that is the progressive community.

          2. hauntedheadnc December 13, 2014

            Oh no, Mr. Peck. I assure you I’m definitely not the only person who wishes you’d leave Asheville forever, one way or another. With your charming personality and your boundless kindness, can you blame people who want to be rid of you? You’re a walking, talking blight.

          3. Tim Peck December 13, 2014

            “not the only person who wishes you’d leave Asheville forever”

            I guess you are going to have to suffer the company of your betters for a long, long time. I’m thinking it would serve your goals better if YOU were to leave. It must be very embarrassing and defeating for your alleged group to be outsmarted at every turn. I’d say you need to seek some shade.

          4. hauntedheadnc December 16, 2014

            On the contrary, Mr. Peck… I sought sunshine instead. I’m posting this and laughing at you from Puerto Rico. Back soon. I know you’ve missed me… but thanks for pointing out exactly why your disgusting political philisophy is the poison everyone but you seems to know it is. “Betters”? Very egalitarian of you and oh-so-libertarian. Why, with an attitude like that you’d never, ever expect there to be any oppression of others, would you?

            And one more time… “betters”? Don’t make me laugh. You’ve latched on to a toxic political philosophy because it makes you feel better than anything else in you empty, loveless little life.

          5. Barry Summers December 16, 2014

            It must be very embarrassing and defeating for your alleged group to be outsmarted at every turn.

            Says the guy whose employer and chosen candidate got whupped last month, after his signature legislation got thrown out as unconstitutional.

            Yes, Asheville/Buncombe Democrats lost big in the last election, didn’t they? You did a heckuva job as semi-official spokesman for Buncombe GOP causes.

            Keep it up. Hell, maybe the State GOP party can use you.

          6. roo December 17, 2014

            Mr. Peck’s apparently unaware of the fact that his charm and wit, his obvious regard for other people, probably cost his employer, Tim Moffitt, the election.

    2. roo December 9, 2014

      Ayn Rand’s ‘philosophy’ produces ugly, disfigured approximations of human beings.

      1. Tim Peck December 10, 2014

        In other words, people with whom you disagree politically? But do keep trying, Mr. roo, you ugly, disfigured approximation of a human being.

        1. RedHotPoker December 10, 2014

          Lieberals usually resort to namecalling when they have no defense of the truth…

          ‘To an indoctrinated mind, the truth is a radical idea’…

          1. Barry Summers December 10, 2014

            Lieberals”, huh? And their damn namecalling that they resort to, huh?

            You just ran rings ’round yourself logically.

    3. Big Al December 9, 2014

      One can only laugh so much before one needs a nap.

      1. Tim Peck December 10, 2014

        Having trouble focusing on the topic, Big Al? Sounds like YOU need a nice long nap.

  3. Barry Summers December 8, 2014

    And on the water: “he and I do anticipate filing legislation to correct whatever the mistake might be”.

    He knows very well what the “mistake” is that caused the State seizure of Asheville’s water to be declared unconstitutional: it only applies to Asheville. And you can’t do that. So, the only way to “correct” it is to make the seizure apply to other municipalities as well. You tried that, remember? Greenville wouldn’t stand for it, and neither will any other city or town in the State. Good luck persuading other GOP reps to sell out their constituents by taking control of their water away, or even establishing the precedent that it could happen to them someday. The NCGA only went along with it being done to Asheville if it was airtight that it would never ever happen to any other city.

    Like the other threat, this is an empty one. Just seeing if he can make Council blink.

    “Two for flinching!”

    1. Tim Peck December 8, 2014

      “Like the other threat, this is an empty one.”

      There’s more than one way to skin a cat.

      1. Barry Summers December 8, 2014

        Your google link there has been disabled. Something about violating Google’s terms of service.

        Ironic, right?

        1. Tim Peck December 13, 2014

          Not surprisingly, changing the subject. I see a pattern.

          1. Barry Summers December 13, 2014

            I was “changing the subject” by pointing out that your link didn’t work? Some people might say – “oh thanks. try this one.”

            Next time I’ll allow you to just assume that people are ignoring you. That’s how you’re happiest.

        2. Tim Peck December 13, 2014

          Not surprisingly, changing the subject. I see a pattern.

  4. Barry Summers December 8, 2014

    A “slight thaw”? I was there, and that’s not how I would describe it. Along with promising to do everything he could to seize Asheville’s water, even if it’s ultimately found to be unconstitutional, Chuck McGrady threatened the City pretty unceremoniously. (drag & drop)

    “I would urge you to continue to do things like what you did on the airport, and with Henderson County and your neighbors.”

    The City of Asheville surrendered on the airport. They apparently decided they couldn’t afford to fight two major court battles, and they chose to fight for the water. For Chuck to cite that as some positive act of cooperation with their neighbors, and say that any future legislative crumbs depend on Asheville continuing to lay down and hand over any asset that our “neighbors” want… That was the act of a bully. There is no thaw. Just a pause before round 2 in the mugging of Asheville.

    I would urge any and all candidates for CC to recognize that Chuck and friends want to dismantle Asheville. The voters of Buncombe County threw out Tim Moffitt and Nathan Ramsey for that kind of behavior. I’ll be supporting those candidates that choose to advocate strongly for the City of Asheville.

    And BTW, the City’s legislative agenda was all statewide issues: sales tax distribution, regulatory authority, don’t shove transportation funding requirements onto local entities, etc. They would all apply to all municipalities in the state. The notion that any of those would turn on whether Chuck thinks that Asheville is being compliant enough in their mugging is ludicrous.

    Oh, he can make sure we don’t get our toplessness issue dealt with. And then they can all continue to sit back & laugh at Asheville. I think that’s a given regardless…


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