Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Public Comment: Partisan Elections

Public Comment
Asheville City Council
May 22, 2007

City council will be voting on June 12th on a proposal to change the city’s charter to make municipal elections in Asheville partisan elections rather than the nonpartisan elections that we have now. This change, in my view, would have several negative effects. It would:
  1. Disenfranchise third-party candidates by creating process hurdles not imposed on the other two parties;

  2. Discourage unaffiliated citizens from participating in the political process in the first place;

  3. Establish an atmosphere of divisive partisan rivalry over much-needed coalition-building;

  4. Increase the likelihood that uninformed voters can disregard a candidate’s stand on the issues and vote a straight party line ticket; And,

  5. Further lend the appearance of cynical maneuvering to city council’s record.

Of the 56,000 registered voters in Asheville, there are currently 15,000 who are registered as unaffiliated.

This in no way should suggest that unaffiliated voters think alike or represent any kind of unified voting bloc. But the fact remains that this group, the second largest group of voters in Asheville, is comprised of citizens who are not particularly enamored of the two dominant parties. I am speaking of the 27% of voters in Asheville who want nothing to do with either the Democratic or Republican parties that this change would exclusively favor.

My questions are these: Why is this change needed? -- not wanted, but needed. Why now? And what's the hurry?

I believe that city leaders should be cheerfully encouraging participation in the political process rather than devising technical methods for discouraging a large portion of our thoughtful but disillusioned citizens from sharing a place at the table.

Is council sensing in the public mood a desire to make city elections even more partisan than they are now? Or are certain council members sensing the need to ‘circle the wagons.’

It has been amply demonstrated in the past that certain lawmakers, once in office, will attempt to use their legislative powers to ‘stack the deck’ in their own favor in an attempt to retain or advance their hold on power and privilege. In the absence of any really credible evidence to the contrary, I have to think that this is one of those occasions.

As a consequence, a committee opposing partisan elections in Asheville has been formed to carry out the task of securing a valid petition that will force the city to hold a public referendum on this matter. That vote of the public, and not city council’s adoption of this resolution, will determine whether or not this proposed change to the city’s charter will indeed take effect.

Thank you.


Public Comment: Matt Mittan, City Council, June 12.


Let Asheville Vote! website.
Referendum mailing list, Yahoo Groups.


"Memorandum to City Council" by Brownie Newman, May 8, 2007.

"Partisan plot" by Eamon Martin, Mountain Xpress, May 16, 2007.

"Partisan elections a way of cutting competition?" by Tim Peck, Asheville Citizen-Times, May 22, 2007. [cached]

"Political parties play vital role in democracy’s nuts and bolts" by Holly Jones, Asheville Citizen-Times, May 27, 2007.

"Partisan plot thickens" by Bert Bass, Mountain Xpress, May 30, 2007.

"Keep political parties out of city council elections" Editorial, Asheville Citizen-Times, June 3, 2007.

"What I learned from Hortense" by George Keller, Mountain Xpress, June 6, 2007.

"City elections could stay non-partisan" by Joel Burgess, Asheville Citizen-Times, June 7, 2007.

"Voters should tell council they’ll make the call on partisan elections" by Editor, Asheville Citizen-Times, June 17, 2007.

"Anti-partisan petition surfaces" by Joel Burgess, Asheville Citizen-Times, June 18, 2007.

"City OKs partisan elections; challenge launched" Asheville Daily Planet, Tuesday, 19 June 2007.

"Machine politics returns to town" Editorial, Asheville Daily Planet, Tuesday, 19 June 2007.

"Council narrowly approves partisan city elections" by Hal L. Millard, Mountain Xpress, Vol. 13 / Iss. 47, 06/20/2007.

"Partying down" by Brian Postelle, Mountain Xpress, Vol. 13 / Iss. 47, 06/20/2007..

The Report Card by Editors, Asheville Citizen-Times, June 25, 2007.

Partisan elections opposed by Joel Burgess, Asheville Citizen-Times, June 26, 2007.

"Partisan elections? Critics make plea for fairness at rally" by Jim Genaro, Asheville Daily Planet, 26 June 2007.

"Grass-roots organizers challenge partisan elections plan for Asheville" by Nelda Holder, Mountain Xpress, 06/27/2007.

"Progressive election policy seems more like oppressive" by Matt Mittan, Mountain Xpress, 06/27/2007.

"City Council Gets Weirder" By Screwie Hoolie, Blog Asheville, June 16, 2007.

"Elections: partisan (yawn) or not?" by Ashe, Ashevegas, June 21, 2007.

"Partisan Voting Controversy Live Blogging" By Screwy Hoolie, June 25th, 2007.

"It’s my party" by Chris Pelly, Mountain Xpress, 06/27/2007.

"Partisan Election Controversy: Long on Rhetoric, Short on Facts" By Screwy Hoolie, June 28th, 2007.

"Wisdom questioned in partisan vote" by Ashton Walton, Mountain Xpress, 07/05/2007.

"Get a vote, Asheville" by Christy Fryar, Mountain Xpress, 07/05/2007.

"Asheville's return to partisan elections" by Jerry Sternberg, Mountain Xpress, 07/05/2007.

"Petition is an opportunity for Asheville to speak loudly" by Charlie Hume, Asheville Citizen-Times, July 6, 2007.

"League of Women Voters supports referendum" By Ruth Christie, Asheville Citizen-Times, July 8, 2007.

"Partisan vote foes halfway to goal" By Joel Burgess, Asheville Citizen-Times, July 10, 2007.

"Council rejects partisan elections referendum" By Joel Burgess, Asheville Citizen-Times, July 12, 2007.

"Voters of Asheville should decide" by Charlie Hume, Asheville Citizen-Times, July 13, 2007.

"Buncombe GOP supports initiative" by George Keller, Asheville Citizen-Times, July 13, 2007.

"Candidate petition numbers finalized" By Joel Burgess, Asheville Citizen-Times, July 15, 2007.

"Public vote push picking up" By Jeffrey Javier, Asheville Citizen-Times, July 16, 2007.

"Partisan critics say petition succeeds" By Joel Burgess, Asheville Citizen-Times, July 17, 2007.

"Public weighs in on partisan elections" by Brian Postelle, Mountain Xpress, 07/16/2007.

"Batting 5,000+" by Brian Postelle, Mountain Xpress, 07/16/2007.

"Critics say referendum petition succeeds" From Staff Reports, Asheville Daily Planet, 17 July 2007.

"The Fabtastic Four" by Asheville Disclaimer, July 18,2007.

"Partisan politics costs vote" by Art Jones, Asheville Citizen-Times, July 20, 2007.

"Press Release: Partisan vs Non-Partisan" by Brownie Newman, BCDems, July 20, 2007.

"Challenge to partisan vote fades" By Clarke Morrison, Asheville Citizen-Times, July 21, 2007.

"Referendum drive may have fallen short" by Jon Elliston, Mountain Xpress, July 21, 2007.

"It ain’t over till it’s over" by Kent Priestley, Mountain Xpress, 07/23/2007.

"Referendum petition needs 39 signatures" By Clarke Morrison, Asheville Citizen-Times, July 24, 2007.

"Won’t forget the feats of electoral tinkering" by Brian May, Asheville Citizen-Times, July 25, 2007.

"Partisan candidates declare" by Hal L. Millard, Mountain Xpress, 07/25/2007

"Brownie Newman’s modest proposal" by Brian Postelle, Mountain Xpress, 07/24/2007.

"Lessons in democracy" by Danny Lack, Mountain Xpress, 07/25/2007.

"Forget the two-letter alphabet" by Tim Green, Mountain Xpress, 07/25/2007.

"Partisan petition too close to call" by Jon Ostendorff, Asheville Citizen-Times, July 26, 2007.

"What would partisan elections mean?" by David Forbes, Mountain Xpress, 07/25/2007.

"Petition appears to fall short" Asheville Daily Planet, Wednesday, 25 July 2007.

"Voters will decide on partisan elections" by Joel Burgess, Asheville Citizen-Times, July 31, 2007.

"Referendum petition succeeds" by David Forbes, Mountain Xpress, 07/31/2007.

"True democracy in action" Editorial, Asheville Citizen-Times, August 5, 2007.

"Next city elections nonpartisan" by David Forbes, Mountain Xpress, 08/08/2007.

"Campaign redux" by Brian Postelle, Mountain Xpress, 08/13/2007.

"Deadline for City Council candidates to file extended" Asheville Daily Planet, 14 August 2007.

"Partisan referendum set for Nov. 6" By Joel Burgess, Asheville Citizen-Times, August 15, 2007.

"November referendum set" By Joel Burgess, Asheville Citizen-Times, August 16, 2007.


City Council Minutes 050807: Resolution to set public hearing on amending charter.

City Council Minutes 052207: Public hearing on ordinance to amend charter.

City Council Minutes 061207: Adoption of resolution to amend charter.

City Council Minutes 071007: Consideration of referendum on partisan elections (pg. 25).


G.S. 160A-101. Optional Forms of Municipal Government

G.S. 160A-102. Amendment by Ordinance

G.S. 160A-103. Referendum on Charter Amendments by Ordinance

G.S. 160A-104. Initiative petitions for charter amendments

G.S. 160-122. Unaffiliated candidates nominated by petition

G.S. 163-55. Qualifications to vote; exclusion from electoral franchise.

G.S. 163-106. Notices of candidacy; pledge; with whom filed; date for filing; withdrawal

G.S. 163-218. Registration of Notice of Circulation of Petition

G.S. 163-296. Nomination by petition

Sample Charter Amendment Petition (pdf)

Asheville Code: Article XII: Initiative, Referendum, Recall (refresh)