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Public Pressure In Asheville Squashes State-Imposed Local Election Changes

City council members.
Max Cooper
Courtesy of the Asheville Blade
Asheville City Council file photo.

The people of Asheville successfully fought against an effort from the North Carolina state legislature to change how the city’s local elections were run.

The General Assembly passed a bill last year that eliminated primaries, mandated the use of voting districts and pushed back municipal elections. Previously Asheville local elections were “at-large,” meaning citizens were able to vote for all open Council seats and for the mayor. The at-large system yielded the most African American representation on the Asheville City Council in decades. Despite public protests against these changes, local elected officials did nothing for months. This fall, after mounting public pressure, the City Council held a vote and restored elections to previous parameters — except for municipal elections, which are delayed and will now be held on even years.

Host Frank Stasio talks to David Forbes about this story and how the changes impact Asheville politics. Forbes is the editor of the Asheville Blade, a progressive online news organization.

NOTE: This program originally aired November 19, 2019.

Amanda Magnus is the executive producer of Embodied, a weekly radio show and podcast about sex, relationships and health. She has also worked on other WUNC shows including Tested and CREEP.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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