Top Thirteen Local Political Stories of 2009

Pic lifted from Jason Sandford

Pic lifted from Jason Sandford

With all these Top Ten lists floating around the internets, I thought I’d toss another reflective log on the fire.  Add your own top stories in the comments, and you get bonus points if you put together a Top Ten Local Political Stories of the Decade.

Buncombe County Commissioners and Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce come out in support of I-26 Alternative 3. After the strong design work from the Asheville Design Center and unanimous support from the City Council, it looked like our community might move the mighty DOT to create something that actually works for Asheville.  When the CoC and 3 of 5 County Commissioners swung in the direction of Alternative 3, further delay was guaranteed.

See the rest in ReadMoreLand…   

Zoning in Buncombe overturned, reinstated. A technicality led to zoning in Buncombe County being overturned.  This issue has been contentious for well over a decade, and the snafu led aroused some old passions.  County Commissioners again moved zoning into being, but not before a concrete plant in Weaverville sneaked in.

Cape is out. Cape is in. Robin Cape announced that she would not seek another term on Asheville City Council, throwing the race wide open.  Months later she announced that she would run after all, this time as a write-in candidate.  While she showed an impressive effort, it wasn’t enough to break into the top three.

Downtown Master Plan passes. This far-reaching plan will create five distinct downtown districts, new design standards, new permitting processes, and possibly a new downtown management entity.

Kelly Miller bows out of City Council race.  A few days after his disappointing primary finish, Councilman Miller announced that he was choosing to focus all of his attention on caring for his cancer-stricken wife.  She has since been doing a lot better, and all signs point to full remission.  Miller is odds-on favorite to run again in 2011.

Shuler votes against stimulus package, for Climate Bill, against Health Care.  With John McCain winning the lion’s share of NC-11, our Heath decided to tack right and oppose the newly elected President Obama on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  Later in the season Blue Dog Shuler crawled out onto a limb with his conservative rural voters when he backed the House Energy Security Act, which addresses a clean energy future for America.  On health care, Shuler towed a conservative line.  Now everybody’s got something to be mad at him about.  Don’t look for a primary challenger this year, but keep an eye on the rafter of Republican candidates who want a shot at unseating the 2nd term Congressman.

Pic from the Asheville Citizen-Times' Erin Brethauer

Pic from the Asheville Citizen-Times' Erin Brethauer

Manheimer, Smith, Bothwell win seats on City Council.  You may have heard something about this.  Very exciting.

Teabaggers People Air Their Grievances.  When Libertarians and disaffected Republicans came together to protest, they got a lot of press – and not just from Richard Bernier and Thunder Pig.  They rallied against socialism, marxism, taxes, deficits, and anyone who noticed that they didn’t say a word until George W. Bush was out of office.

The end of the Mumpower era. Dr. Mumpower’s eight years were marked by outrageous public statements and a defiant brand of minority politics.

Martin Nesbitt named Senate Majority Leader.  Having our area’s NC Senator rise to this position of power and prominence will likely mean a lot more attention on our mountain district.

Pic unknowingly and charitably donated by the inimitable Jason "Ashvegas" Sandford

Pic unknowingly and charitably donated by the inimitable Jason "Ashvegas" Sandford

Stewart Coleman wins his appeal.  With his Parkside Condominium proposal withdrawn and his fancy new Tavern already underway, an appeals court ruled that Mr. Coleman does indeed own the land under the old Magnolia tree in front of City Hall.  City Council voted against creating a permanent 100-foot buffer around the park.  Expect more fireworks in the year to come.

Patsy Keever announces challenge to Bruce Goforth.  Keever’s popularity and spotless reputation will take on Bruce Goforth’s conservatism and good-old-boy network.  Patsy needs your help if she’s going to win the May primary.

Cecil The Atheist.  HK Edgerton’s next fifteen minutes of fame was fanned into existence by Matt Mittan and other conservative media seeking ways to score political points against the most progressive City Council member since Leni Sitnick.  Absurd from the start, the idea that an antiquated clause in the NC Constitution could keep Cecil off City Council made national and international news.  I’m still receiving emails insisting I allow Bothwell to take his rightful place on Council.


  1. barry says:

    Cecil the Atheist (or post-theist?)… The thing that keeps me entertained is the “It Ain’t Over” crowd, like white-supremacist lawyer Kirk Lyons, HK’s old buddy. (He recently said that NC still had the right to secede from the Union). The only way one can make the leap that Cecil’s swearing-in wasn’t legal is if you don’t acknowledge that the US Constitution and Supreme Court trump NC State law. These folks are still fighting the Civil War. I’m guessing there is still a minute chance that they will summon up the crazy to file a lawsuit.

  2. barry says:

    And Gordon is absolutely right about Coleman – he has not given up on Parkside, and we’ll be revisiting this debacle.

    On that note, the devil in the details of the DMP will be the big fight over the next year.

    I will disagree that the Mumpower Era is over. It’s merely gone airborne. Has anyone else heard the good Doctor’s podcasts?

  3. shadmarsh says:

    I’m shocked I didn’t make this list. Fie on you!

  4. barry says:

    You just barely missed the cut, I’m sure. Fourteen top stories would just be too many. Thirteen is a nice, round number.

  5. Michael Muller says:

    I’d add one more: the Buncombe County GOP’s implosion into complete irrelevance. They had an entire year after the crash of ’08 to get their shit together and harness some positive blowback, but they couldn’t even manage to get a single candidate elected in a low-turnout municipal race. Pathetic.

    Instead, what was once a viable party turned into a fanatical circle jerk…with Ron Paul, Tim Johnson, and Don Yelton taking turns as pivot men.

  6. barry says:

    Yeah, but you have to like a guy who when he’s the maddest, he says “you’re damn skippy!”