In the most important and unpredictable local election in over a decade, those who make this city possible must get out and vote. Here’s how
Hello readers. For over 12 years I’ve covered our city’s politics, through multiple cycles and a massive amount of change in the city.
I’ve never seen an election like this.
Asheville goes into its primary today, Oct. 10, with a tightly competitive field and a wide range of backgrounds and views. At stake are the mayor’s office and three Council seats, with control over our local government. This vote is key, as it will narrow a wide field down to two mayoral candidates and six Council candidates. Turnout in these elections is generally low and skews older and more well-off. Even a slight change in that — people and communities that had stayed away before showing up — can prove decisive and spur major change. If it’s a gentry turnout, you’ll see candidates sympathetic to those views. If more marginalized communities show up, it could be a very different story.
The local government has a lot of power. It oversees a $170 million-plus budget and sets the rules for everything from policing to sidewalks to how housing is (or isn’t) built. It shapes if local authorities will protect LGBT rights or ignore them, if segregation is rolled back or inflicted further, if the working people of this town have a shot or they don’t. That power can start addressing our city’s major issues and strengthen movements for change, enabling more power to more people. Or it can make the problems we face far, far worse.
While I figured this year would be a contentious one politically due to the major, ongoing issues driving upheaval in our city’s politics, it has proven even more unpredictable than anticipated. Overall, I genuinely have no idea which candidates will advance to the general election. So far turnout skews towards older voters concentrated in North and South Asheville. But that turnout is still a small percentage of voters and everything can change today.
To help in your decision-making the Blade has a voter guide, with candidates answering questions about those issues and more, many suggested directly by our readers. If you need to find your polling place, you can look up that information here. The polls are open until 7:30 p.m.
Lastly, remember the lines from an old union song, one that’s been on my mind often as far too many in Asheville “stand outcast and starving amid these wonders we have made.” But the same verses are also a reminder of who this city relies on, who builds it, who struggles within it every single day and who, in the end, may still hold the power to determine its future: “they have taken untold millions that they never toiled to earn, yet without our brains and muscles not a single wheel would turn.”