Raleigh, N.C. — A Republican-backed bill to force Asheville to adopt district elections for its City Council, instead of electing all members citywide, cleared committee Wednesday in the House.
Senate Bill 285 comes from Republicans who say Asheville's citywide elections leave conservative residents without proper representation, due to the city's left-leaning majority. Government there is controlled "by a left-wing cartel," former City Councilman Joe Dunn complained Wednesday.
This bill orders the city to draw districts, or the General Assembly will draw them next year.
This push has been on for some years, and in response, the City Council agreed to a referendum on the district concept that is slated for November. That wasn't enough to placate statehouse Republicans, and sponsoring state Sen. Chuck Edwards, R-Henderson, said he doubts the city's sincerity.
Edwards' bill cleared the House's Committee on Elections and Ethics Law on a voice vote. Rep. Susan Fisher, D-Buncombe, cautioned fellow committee members against the measure, one of a number from the GOP majority in Raleigh in recent years to target the power of left-leaning cities around the state.
"If this can happen in Asheville, it can also happen in your city," Fisher said.