Wednesday, October 14, 2009
LTE: Robin Cape
How I learned to respect Robin Cape and why you should write her name on your ballot
by Tim Peck | Mountain Xpress | 10/14/2009
When Council member Robin Cape was elected four years ago, I was upset. I couldn't understand how Asheville could elect someone with her radical ideas about energy, the environment and a paternalistic model of government. At her swearing-in ceremony, I was reconciled to her election and said, "Maybe I can vote for you four years from now."
With that span of time now passed, I have changed and I could indeed vote for Robin Cape. But that is because Robin Cape has changed too. Coming from a background of progressive political activism, Cape has transformed into a seasoned, open-minded local legislator who well understands the mechanics of public advocacy, reasoned deliberation and the limitations of government action.
However, anyone wishing to cast a vote for Robin Cape must write her name on the ballot in November (just as they did in Woodfin in 2003, when Cape broke a 25-year precedent and won a seat on the water board as a write-in candidate with an impressive 34-percent voter turnout when she ran on the issue of protecting their precious watershed from logging).
State law allows for last-minute write-in candidates in a nonpartisan race.
Not so in the case of other local elections. Other elections are partisan and, as such, a write-in candidate must qualify by filing a "declaration of intent" with the Board of Elections 90 days prior to the general election, otherwise a write-in vote for that candidate is discarded as a non-vote. So, even though state statute says "each official ballot shall contain ... a means by which the voter may cast write‑in votes (N.C.G.S. 163‑165.5)," if a write-in candidate decides to participate after the 90-day cutoff for qualifying, no votes for that candidate will be counted. This appears to conflict with the spirit of the law.
Asheville's elections are nonpartisan; thanks to the Let Asheville Vote referendum that decided the question by the consent of a majority of citizens rather than by a majority vote of a biased seven-member City Council.
Ironically, Robin Cape originally opposed the Let Asheville Vote referendum. But she understands now the importance of protecting voters' rights and the right of citizens of any affiliation to run for public office.
I, too, have changed my mind from four years ago and will be writing the name "Robin Cape" on my ballot in 2009. May she win yet another write-in campaign.
Write-In Robin Cape
Tim Peck | September 15, 2009