The sponsor of the bill that mandated Asheville draw districts for future city council elections says ‘it isn’t optional’ for the city to follow the law – even though Asheville residents rejected districts by a 3 to 1 margin in this week’s election. Henderson County Republican Chuck Edwards district includes parts of South Asheville – a supposedly more politically moderate and conservative part of Asheville that rarely has been represented on city council, whose six members are currently elected at-large. The bill Edwards sponsored which his colleagues in the General Assembly OK’d earlier this year creates city council districts by the next election two years from now – and supporters of it argue it would benefit South Asheville. In a statement released a day after voters in Asheville overwhelmingly rejected districts, Edwards called the vote ‘a sham’, and said it ‘isn’t optional’ for the city follow the state law.
Whether the overwhelming margin in the referendum spurs city leaders to take the matter to court is yet to be seen, but city councilman-elect Vijay Kapoor says he’s at least open to it. “What I’d like to do is to sit down with the city attorney to understand if there is a legal path forward. Until I can do that it’s hard for me to say what the next steps are. But to me it shows the rationale for this bill really went down in flames.”
Kapoor hails from South Asheville and was the top vote getter in this week’s council election, a result he says shows all candidates from that area need are a good campaign and a good message.