Application To Be On Asheville City Council


I’m listening to Matt Mittan getting frothy over City Council’s plan to choose a replacement for a vacated City Council seat by employing an application and interview process rather than using the fourth-highest-vote-getter precedent. Mittan’s objection is that the process is not democratic and that there ought to be an election instead.

I understand his point, but outside of holding a special election, which would most likely have a miserable turnout among City voters, I think this process is worth having a look at. It’s likely fundamentally flawed, and I’d rather see the precedent of appointing the fourth highest vote getter maintained, but it’s also possible we get the best Councilperson we’ve ever seen.

The central flaws of the process are that it is inherently political and leaves the populace out of the decision.

I thought it would fun to get a lot of people to apply, so we can have a look at how the process works. Here’s a link to the application.

What do y’all think? Wanna apply?


  1. I don’t want to apply, but I’ll nominate Cecil Bothwell and Elaine Lite!

  2. Low Key says:

    I agree the 4th highest should be offered the seat.

    Considering the brouhaha the partisan election issue caused – you’d think council would try to be as democratic as possible.

    I wonder how much drama I would cause if I applied?

  3. Michael Muller says:

    Appoint an ad-hoc committee chaired by Jan Davis and comprised of Joe Dunn, Bryan Freeborn, Lou Bissette and Leni Sitnick. Let them make recommendations to the Mayor based on whatever criteria the deem appropriate and let Terry appoint Holly’s successor.

    A little bit country, a little bit rock and roll. The idea of a special election is impractical and and, as Gordon suggests, fundamentally flawed. Name recognition and money would be too much of a factor in who is elected, especially given such a short window.


    P.S. That corn liquor does a number on your bowels. Ouch!

  4. shadmarsh says:

    Im going with my strategy to apply to pretty much every job that becomes available.

  5. RHS says:

    Is Patsy Keever a city resident?

  6. Jim says:

    A proposal earlier this year was submitted to have a city special commission look at the idea of instant runoff voting, district elections and a replacement process. Got shot down, though.

    It’s worth proposing again.

  7. Gordon Smith says:


    “My personal feeling is the reason they are going through this application process is they are not interested in putting me on council,” said Bryan Freeborn, who lost by 70 votes to Bill Russell in last year’s council elections.

    Speaking Wednesday, Freeborn said he deserved appointment because he was the electorate’s next highest choice after Russell and the city needed someone who could fill the position without having to learn on the job. He said he did not plan to run again for council if appointed.

  8. jdnc says:

    I nominate Gordon!

  9. Lesley says:

    Hmmm…off the top of my head, it seems that the appointment process has plenty of precedent in other locations and at other levels of office. It’s fast, efficient and cheap and assumes that the party (or other appointing body) would be choosing candidates anyway (or in the case of an elected body doing the appointing, would have the faith and support of the electorate.

    I’m not applying, btw. Too many skeletons in my closet. 🙂

  10. At the workdesk says:

    It seems like there would be procedures/rules/laws in place which would tell us exactly how this must be done, but in the case that such don’t exist, here goes:

    Bellamy should choose a councilperson posthaste.

    Then, if Bellamy leaves the job, the city should hold a special election to choose someone for the rest of the Mayoral term.

  11. bobaloo says:

    It should be Freeborn. That is all.

  12. blogger S says:

    Picking Freeborn would NOT be democratic. He has now lost his only two elections. This is an interim appointment, and the most democratic way to do it would be to let the members of council, who were all elected, appoint the person.

  13. RHS says:

    Picking Freeborn would NOT be democratic. He has now lost his only two elections.

    Make that three. He also lost the primary in 2003.

  14. Jenny Bowen says:

    How much time does Holly have left on her term?

    I suppose that whomever were to be appointed to Holly’s seat, it would be best for them to sit near the center with many of her same overall ideals, using wisdom and calm judgement to consider the issues that come before council. If someone has a political agenda where they care to draft initiatives it would do far more democratic justice to have them run on their individual merits at a future point of election.

    I printed out a copy of the application.
    I’ll either let the deadline opportunity pass or stare at it till it bites me and I submit it without expectations.
    I like Gordon’s idea on having as many inspired and intelligent folks applying as possible. Lets hope Council picks someone who fills Holly’s seat without loosing the sensibility, insight, and honesty she brought to our council.

  15. I think they should appoint Freeborn out of fairness. Besides getting the vote, he did a good job. FYI, Cecil told me that he’s not going to apply.

    That said and since it looks like they are going with this application process, I would like to encourage Joe Mincozzi, former president of the Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods, to apply. He’s one of the smartest people I know (a former planner and a leader behind pushing DOT into a more sustainable, intelligent redesign of the I-26 corridor) — he’s one of the few people who understands the Unified Development Ordinance. He’s got a great sense of humor, is a person of pure integrity, and he’s unflappable. Plus, he’s a dog person.

  16. Michael Muller says:

    My vote is for Brother Christopher. Knowledgeable, bipartisan, and a natty dresser (or is that gnatty?)

  17. Well, crudmuffin, Joe’s not up for it either. I wonder if Rocket could apply?

  18. Tim Peck says:

    RHS says:

    Is Patsy Keever a city resident?

    § 160A-60. Qualifications for appointive office.

    “Residence within a city shall not be a qualification for or prerequisite to appointment to any city office not filled by election of the people, unless the charter or an ordinance provides otherwise.”

  19. Tim Peck says:

    City Council Vacancy
    Tim Peck | Et in Arcadia Ego | November 9, 2008

    The 2008 Buncombe County Commissioner’s election will leave open one seat on city council by virtue of a sitting council member having won the commissioner’s seat . . .

  20. cupcake says:

    The exact numbers of votes from the last city council election are below. There was only a 74 vote difference between Republican Bill Russell who was the 3rd highest vote getter and Bryan Freeborn. The people did vote. There was a primary and democratic process and the people chose Bryan next in line. Jan Davis’ recent comment in the Mountain Xpress is absolutely ridiculous. He says, in reference to Bryan Freeborn, “picking him now would be inappropriate, since so much time has passed since the voters last weighed in on Council candidates.” Then why don’t we just do away with Jan and the others while we’re at it since it’s been so long since we voted. I think that’s a pretty demeaning attitude toward the voters of Asheville.
    – Dwight Butner 5,380 15.03%
    – Jan Davis 7,659 21.40%
    – Bryan Freeborn 5,505 15.38%
    – Elaine Lite 5,038 14.07%
    – Brownie Newman 6,637 18.54%
    – Bill Russell 5,579 15.58%