Asheville City Council to consider reinstating at-large elections through charter amendments

Illustration of people voting

 

Two resolutions passed by City Council Sept. 10 set into motion a process to reverse state law mandating district elections for the City’s governing board.

The resolutions are part of a three-step process required to amend the City’s charter and return the Council elections to an at-large format and restore primary elections, said City Attorney Brad Branham.

 

In June 2018, the Legislature passed a bill establishing five Asheville City Council election districts, with the mayor and one council member elected at-large. The bill also moves Council elections from odd to even years and removes primary elections.

The number of Council Members would remain the same, at seven, including the mayor.

 

To implement this change, City Council would need to amend its charter. And there is a formal three-step procedure required to do so.

 

As a first step, Council passed two resolutions:

  • Resolution to consider amending the City charter to provide for at-large elections. 
  • Resolution to consider amending the City charter to allow nonpartisan primary elections.

In addition, the resolutions set a Sept. 24 public hearing on these proposed charter amendments.

 

What comes next?

At their Sept. 24 meeting, Council will hold public hearings on these two charter amendment proposals.

Following that, at a separate meeting Council may vote on the matter. It’s worth noting that City Council will only meet once in October, on Oct. 22.

 

On July 29, Council held a worksession on this matter, with City Attorney Branham outlining various options ranging from taking no action to amending the City charter to reinstate at-large elections and primaries. Branham also advised Council of the pros and cons of each option.

 

To review Branham’s presentation to Council, visit this link.

To review more documents related to municipal election districts, visit this link.

 

Archived video stream of Branham’s presentation to Council and the worksession discussion is archived on the City of Asheville YouTube Channel in two parts. Here are direct links:

Election Districts worksession, part 1

Election Districts worksession, part 2

 

If City Council amends its charter to reinstate at-large and primary elections, there could be a spring 2020 primary election.