Partisan Voting Controversy Live Blogging


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketWith strains of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” blaring into the empty green at City County Plaza, I’m wondering if opponents of the partisan election scheme are limited to Carl Mumpower, Joe Dunn, and Tim Peck. The reporters outnumber the attendees at this early hour (6:41), though Big Joe Dunn is supposed to get up and get his oration on at 7pm.

Carl Mumpower is being interviewed right next to me, but I can’t hear a word because he’s a terminally low talker.

If you’re coming in late to this controversy, here’s the skinny:

Holly Jones, Brownie Newman, Robin Cape, and Bryan Freeborn voted to make our city council elections partisan affairs beginning this year. Their initial argument was that putting a (D) or and (R) next to a candidate’s name gives the voter much more information about that candidate. Further, city council elections were decidedly partisan until 1994 when the rules were changed to encourage more third-party and minority candidates. Since that time no third party candidates have been elected and only one minority winner, our current mayor, Terry Bellamy.

On the other side are Tim Peck, founder of Let Asheville Vote, who argues that the council restricts participation by requiring that minority party candidates get 2,000 signatures of registered Asheville voters in order to appear on the ballot.

But, honest to Jeebus, there are no more than 20 people at this rally, and 5 of them are reporters. It’s sad. A dude was doing his karoake best to provide us an Elvis impersonation – and it was completely fucking awful. Sorry, but it was. Painful.
(7:15) Carl Mumpower mumbled his way through some comments, and the dozen in attendance cheered. Jan Davis, a Democrat, came out and said that he didn’t feel the partisan election scheme was the way the Democratic Party ought to act. Joe Dunn, former councilman and mayoral candidate last go ’round, told the crowd that partisan elections are a way of saying, “You Don’t Count.” He says the proponents want to run the city the way they want to run it.
(7:23) Some guy ( I think he’s a Republican Party officer) is saying that the proponents of partisan elections have a hidden agenda. He’s bashing the Fearsome Foursome for ramrodding the measure through. “We have 56,513 registered voters…Can this be correct?” He explains that they need 5,651 folks to sign the petition to stop the partisan elections from going forward. The petition would put the partisan election question to a referendum in November.

Matt Mittan is jauntily curb leaning, waiting his turn to fire up the dozen and a half people attending the big rally.

“Partisan elections pave the way for us to have instant runoff voting and will prevent vote splitting like what happened in 2005, and what I’m talking about is how Carl Mumpower was able to win only because most Democrats split their votes between Freeborn and Pelly” – David Roat
(7:36) Matt Mittan is getting righteous:

“They made a great misjudgement”

“They made the mistake of thinking that you care more about getting to Shindig on the Green than you care about fair and open elections.”

“People are sick and tired of partisan politics.”

The Let Asheville Vote crowd is generally saying that the partisan election move limits choices and limits access.

Proponents argue that the process:

– is already tacitly partisan
– allows unaffiliated or third party candidates the opportunity to bypass a primary, instead collecting 2,200 signatures
– means that unaffiliated candidates, if they’re able to get their signatures and garner at least 4% of the vote in the general election, will not have to repeat the process.
– is more transparent
– will bring Instant Runoff Voting

There’s still fewer than two dozen attendees. Rumor has it that the petition drive has around a thousand signatures, well short of what they need. Unless something strange happens, it looks like we’ll have partisan elections in November.

This is Screwy Hoolie, signing off.

Categories : Local, Uncategorized


  1. petulant says:

    Regardless of how sad it is, you are at least sporting some Jackie shades Screwy!

  2. shad marsh says:

    Thanks for the update. I hope to god that you were kidding about the “We didn’t start the fire” thing…but if you weren’t that may explain the low turn out.

  3. Drama Queen says:

    That was a fun read, Screwy. We should do more live blogs.

    My last one at BlueNC (calling Hooker Odom’s office!) was a riot to do but probably too long . . . I still like them. And you are succinct on the fly, Screwy. No length problem for you.

    Hey, and can Matt Mittan cover issues when he’s obviously involved. Or does this make him like a blogga?

  4. masha says:

    I agree. Jackie would be proud. Fierce!

  5. I’m not much surprised at the low turnout. This has always seemed more like a media (read “Mittan”) thing than a real issue.

    The Republicans switched it to nonpartisan in 1994 when they were in the majority on Council and now the Democrats have switched it back.

    As Ash on Ashvegas put it, “Yawn.”

  6. Tim Peck says:

    Actually, the founder of “Let Asheville Vote” is Democrat Charlie Hume. I’m helping as much as I can.

    And you forgot to mention the statement by former Democrat mayor Leni Sitnick (not in attendance for personal reasons) and former Libertarian candidate for city council Dave Goree.

    Yes, the turnout was very low. That is sad for a purportedly politically active Asheville citizenry.

    But I did have the pleasure of meeting up with Democrats Elaine Lite, Charlie Thomas and Mike Lewis just after the rally.

    However, poor turnout at a rally does not reflect the importance of this issue. The signatures are still pouring in and we’re having no trouble getting people to sign. The problem is that we’re short on volunteers.

    I did appreciate the AC-T giving us an “A” on its report card today. And Sunday, they printed the petition form in their paper. Let’s see what that brings in.

    Anyone wanting to help can download a petition form from our website and turn in completed forms at Caffiend where Thomas Rightmyer will pick them up.

    Thanks everyone for your help in letting the voters of Asheville decide how they will vote in elections.

  7. Snappy shades an snappy post.

  8. Drama Queen says:

    Why does the AC-T cover this story when they hardly covered the hundreds turning out against the Progress Energy plant?

    Or do I have it wrong that there were hundreds. I saw a packed house at Jubilee. Someone help me out here.

  9. Water under the bridge, DQ, but I’m pretty sure there were a lot of folks at the paper who really didn’t think the thing was stoppable. They had their best reporter at the event tonight, so I imagine the “rally” will get the press it deserves.

  10. Drama Queen says:

    Okay, so I’m a water-under-bridge kinda gal . . . sunglass boy.

  11. As a long-time observer of the press in Asheville, I would say that the reason the AC-T covers this event and not the hundreds-strong opposition to the Progress plant has everything to do with being part of the largest newspaper chain in the country.

    When Clear Channel and Gannett agree about something you’ve got to wonder why self-styled progressives jump on board.

    And, yes, Charlie Hume is registered Democrat but, according the Board of Elections Web site, he hasn’t ever voted here. Not that voting is mandatory, but it is an odd position for someone who makes a fuss about letting people vote, dontcha think?

  12. The Citizen_times article is here

    The video, which shows nearly every non=politician who attended, also has that Elvisy guy singing “God Bless the USA”

  13. syntax says:

    Re: Cecil @ #12:

    Very interesting points.

  14. Christy Fryar says:

    FYI…We put this rally together in less than a week, and we managed to get well over 100 signatures, so I think you may have your numbers wrong, Screwey! I agree that our turnout was not what we were expecting, but at other venues, our expectations have been surpassed. I am disappointed, though, because I have heard continually while working on this referendum petition how angry people are, even having one woman say, “Robin Cape better never knock on my door again!” However, when we provided an opportunity for them to speak, they didn’t take it. If you, Screwey, are okay with people who don’t care about the well-being of your home, but rather themselves, making decisions for you, then so be it. I, however, am not okay with this, and I am appalled that you would treat this as if it is not a serious issue.

  15. Christy Fryar says:

    Also, Re: #11– I think you are wrong about Democrats supporting partisan politics. Most of the signatures I have gotten have been from Democrats and they have also been the most angry, feeling that the fab four has been a disappointment.

  16. Christy,

    Maybe 100 showed up over the course of the event, but at no time did I see more than 20 attendees. There were a lot of reporters and politicians, but not many of “the people”. Don’t go casting aspersions. I was there.

    You’re appalled at me for what? Maybe you’ve gotten so used to attacking that you don’t recognize a fence-sitter when you see one. I’m torn on this issue. I signed the petition, because I figure you can’t go wrong with putting things to a public vote, but many of the arguments for the partisan elections are sound ones that aren’t being answered by Let Asheville Vote.

    What about instant runoff voting and the likelihood that it will help third party candidates? What about independents being able to avoid a primary by collecting the signatures. It might be cheaper and more accessible to do it this way rather than having to endure the primary campaign.

    I do take this seriously, but no one showed up to the rally. That’s not my fault. Nor is it my fault for stating the fact that no one showed up. Nor is it my fault that the petition drive looks like it’s coming up short.

    Lastly, Christy, WTF are you talking about? ” If you, Screwey, are okay with people who don’t care about the well-being of your home, but rather themselves, making decisions for you” This is crazy-talk.

    You don’t think Cape, Freeborn, Newman, and Jones care about Asheville? That’s a weird thing to say. I don’t agree with Carl Mumpower about much of anything, but I would never say he doesn’t care about Asheville. Talk about partisan rhetoric.

    You’re sounding like part of the problem, Christy, and you’re pushing this fence-sitter to the other side with your venom.

  17. melissa says:

    i’m sure our buddy joel loves being called the ac-t’s “best reporter.” i’ll admit he’s squarely in my top 5. however, he does indeed take first place for ectomorphs with flowing princely locks…

  18. Tim Peck says:

    And, yes, Charlie Hume is registered Democrat but, according the Board of Elections Web site, he hasn’t ever voted here. Not that voting is mandatory, but it is an odd position for someone who makes a fuss about letting people vote, dontcha think?

    Cecil, I respect your reporting on local issues but I think you have a burr in your saddle on this one and it’s interfering with your objectivity.

    Usually, when a reporter has a concern or gap in their information, they ask a question to get the facts rather than rely on bias and speculation.

    Charlie Hume was a registered Democrat many years ago but has been a registered Unaffiliated for six years. He recently switched to back to Democrat in order to vote in the last primary. He was under the mistaken impression that this was necessary; it was not.

    When the NC voter database switched his record back to Democrat, it mistakenly wiped out his voting record. If you look at his wife’s record you will see that she has a voting record whereas Charlie does not, due to some error in the system that reverted to his record as a Democrat from before 2000.

    I’m happy to do your journalistic leg work for you and correct the misinformation: Charlie Hume has been an active voter in Buncombe County for over six years.

  19. I just got off the phone with Charlie.

    Yes, you are right. Charlie has voted here since 2000.

    Please note that in my blog post I said “according to the Board of Elections Web site …” That site is generally a good reference source. In this case it was wrong. I apologized to Charlie for using faulty data, and told him I would post and make this correction.

    The only burrs in my saddle on this matter are: 1. The question of who is really pushing the agenda, and while I am convinced that the organizers include members of a few parties I am not yet convinced that there is not a macro agenda being pushed by a subset of the organizers; and 2. That the whole story has not been more thoroughly aired. In this I agree with those who suggest that more discussion is probably warranted.

    I haven’t taken a public position on the question itself, and, don’t really see that either position favors one or the other party. It is surely clear that nonpartisan races haven’t resulted in election of unafilliated council members in the past 12 years and it isn’t clear that partisan elections will pose more of an obstacle to such candidates.

  20. Tim Peck says:

    I am not yet convinced that there is not a macro agenda being pushed by a subset of the organizers;

    I’d like to hear more about this macro agenda. I’ll look into it myself and see what I can find. If you could provide a sketch, it might help.

    You’re right: The database screwed up; not your fault.

  21. syntax says:

    Cecil: if you’d rather not run the risk of someone seeing that statement in #12 and not reading any further to this correction, I can apply strike formatting like this and link it to your comment #20.

    Just a precautionary measure. It’s your call.

  22. That would be great.

  23. Christy Fryar says:

    I didn’t see you as a fence-sitter, Screwey. I simply saw you as a wanna-be reporter who not only does not get his facts straight, but who also does not know the first rule of journalism…state the facts without opinion or bias. I am not trying to spew venom, but we have worked (and are still working) very hard to give EVERY voter in the City of Asheville the opportunity to be heard and I have a hard time with anyone who would have a problem with that.

  24. You’re a mean one, aren’t you Christy?

    I’m a blogger, not a wanna-be reporter. I’m not a journalist – I’m a blogger.

    I don’t have any problem with folks getting to vote about partisan elections. I signed the petition myself.

    Attacking bloggers for not being journalists? Of all things. I liken it to yelling at someone in a coffee shop because their opinions or facts, as you imagine them, don’t square with yours.

    All I did was state how many people were there and my opinion of the ones that were. If you want journalism, go read a newspaper. If you want to read my personal opinion and bias, transparent as all-get-out, then come to Scrutiny Hooligans.

    You’re a mean one, alright, Christy. You won’t win many converts with that attitude. Coming to a blog and bitching about blogging. It’s really strange…

    To the rest of the Let Asheville Vote crowd, more power to you.

  25. Christy Fryar says:

    Actually, I am truly not a mean person, but can be very pointed and, believe it or not, I really don’t like argumentation. I apologize for being “mean”, but I have been (and am) working very hard for the Let Asheville Vote cause and I’m tired and irritable and I was truly offended at how you belittled our effort, when in actuality, we are working for YOU, along with every other voter in Asheville. I am just amazed that people can take such a simple cause, LET ASHEVILLE VOTE, and turn it into something it is not. We are not a bunch of Republicans with an agenda. We are simply saying that this topic is important enough that every voter should have a say. If Asheville voters then decide that partisan elections are the way to go, so be it. We will then rest easy that the majority of Asheville voters have decided for themselves that it is the way to go, rather than four people with an obvious agenda.

    Look, Screwy, I think we all want the same things. We want a balanced government and we want to feel that we are represented by people who put OUR best interests first and are able to hear us when we are concerned. I don’t think for a second that that is what happened in this case. Truce???


  26. I’m not in a shooting war with you, Christy. I think an apology is more called for than a truce, but I’m not going to get hung up on it.

    I couldn’t belittle the Let Asheville Vote rally – it belittled itself. All I could do was notice.

    If you’re going to be in politics long, I’d suggest recognizing that our allies aren’t always the people we agree with and that different points of view can have value.

    Further, if people hear about the petition and don’t sign it, If they hear about your rally and don’t come, then the voters are having their say. They’re choosing to ignore Let Asheville Vote, and that’s democracy too.

    I encourage anyone who cares to go on down to Caffiend on Merrimon, ignore the Republican candidate for city council inside, and sign the petition.

  27. Christy Fryar says:

    I agree with you 100% that our allies are not always the people that we agree with and I absolutely agree that different points of view are necessary and valuable. Actually, this is one of the things that I don’t like about our city council members right now. They vote together (especially the four) all the time and rarely ever demonstrate separate minds and separate points of view.

    As far as the rally on Monday, we were all disappointed, but I wouldn’t read that much into it if I were you. I think the poor turnout had much more to do with quick planning, not much advertisement, weather, and the fact that it was on a Monday night than it did with lack of support. As I mentioned earlier, our expectations at other venues have been exceeded. Hey, you win some, you lose some…but I don’t believe that we belittled ourselves. I can honestly say that I have not had one person refuse to sign the petition, and most folks have expressed extreme anger and disappointment about the decision by the four councilmembers. Based on these reactions, we organized the rally Monday to give the people of Asheville an opportunity to voice their frustration, anger, and disappointment, but they didn’t take the opportunity. I think the people of Asheville let themselves down much more than they let us down.

    Also, please look at our website http://www.letashevillevote.org for a list of places for people to go to sign the petition. Caffiend is not the only business that has copies of the petition.

  28. gotcha

    Hey Christy, what do you say to the arguments for the partisan elections? You know – the IRV, skipping the primary if you get the ballot signatures, etc?

  29. syntax says:

    Caffiend is not the only business that has copies of the petition.

    Nor are they the only people. I have copies. I plan on bringing them with me to Drinking Liberally tomorrow night.

  30. Tim Peck says:

    Referendum petitions are available at Malaprops.

    Ignore the hairy-under-armed, tank-topped baristas and sign the petition.

  31. syntax says:

    Ignore the hairy-under-armed, tank-topped baristas and sign the petition.

    But what if they’re Republicans? 😉

  32. Drama Queen says:

    Yeah, syntax, I saw that. It’s worthy of note when people don’t shave the body hair they’re supposed to shave. But, of course, if we shaved our heads, that would be remarkable, too. I’d like to know who decides what’s supposed to be shaved and what isn’t.

  33. Charlie Hume says:

    Hello all.

    After my discussion with Cecil about my voting record I figured I would take a closer look at this thread.

    Just to clarify my voting history I moved to Asheville in 2000 and have been registered as an unaffliated until 5/8/07 (registered as DEM). My reason for changing was to participate in the state and federal primaries. I’ve since learned this was unnecessary and plan to revert back to unaffliated.

    As I read through the past postings it was suggested that LetAshevilleVote may have a macro agenda. Although I certainly don’t represent everyone who is helping with the petition effort I have a hard time believing that there is something sinister in this regard. As the person who initiated this effort by filing the petition with the Brd of Elections (Tim Peck also had the same idea) I can tell you that I have no hidden agenda, nor am I running for office, nor am I promoting any candidate or party.

    In the end, my primary purpose for sacraficing my own time and money towards this effort is to give the voters a chance to decide on the issue while illustrating that a unlevel playing field has been created for unaffliated candidates.

    – Charlie Hume

  34. Thanks for dropping by , Charlie. Come on out to Drinking Liberally, and we’ll all have us a chat about this controversy.

    I’m still really curious about the IRV and skipping the primary ideas that Partisan voting brings, and I’d love to hear your take on it.

  35. Christy Fryar says:

    I’m not terribly educated on the IRV, but from what I know, it seems like it could be a somewhat effective method of voting, though it strikes me a little bit as being an “American Idol” version. Whether or not the IRV would be put into place is a whole other story, and I’m thinking it is merely a smokescreen by those who voted for partisan elections. And, though I may be way off base, is it not possible for the IRV to be used in non-partisan elections? Also, in the spirit of the mission of Let Asheville Vote, I would say the same thing to skipping the primaries that I am about unaffiliated voters having to get 2250 signatures. I think everyone should have the same opportunity to run for city government and I think they should ALL have to take on the same obstacles, instead of unaffiliated candidates having to devote time to collecting signatures and democrats and republicans having to spend money to run in the primaries.