Moffitt Says Three is Enough


Rep. Tim Moffitt (R-116) has introduced a bill, HB 471, that will reduce the voting power of Buncombe County voters. Whereas you can now vote for all five Commissioners regardless of where you live, Moffitt’s bill would restrict you to voting for only three out of a newly expanded Board of seven. The bill would divide the county by district, and each district would have two reps on the Commission. The Chair would be elected at-large.

Apart from some Tea Party activists, no one has asked for this measure. Rep. Moffitt did not deign to consult with voters in Buncombe County or with County government before introducing the bill to the Republican controlled legislature in Raleigh.

“I just felt that the majority of the county is underrepresented on the Buncombe County Commission,” Moffitt said of the bill.

Is there a dearth of representation for County residents as Moffitt asserts? No. Three of the five Commission members live outside the city limits, and it would be hard to argue that city resident Bill Stanley isn’t a strong voice for non city residents.

I’m baffled by Rep. Moffitt’s unilateral decision to limit voter choice.

If you’d like to register your comments about Moffitt’s dictum with your County government or your state representatives, here are some handy email addresses:,,,,,,,,;


  1. D.Dial says:

    This might be a positive measure to reduce the over reaching influence of the religious conservatives who seem to have lot of power in the County.

  2. AvlRepublican says:

    Yes Gordon, never mind that this will actually diversify the county’s representation on the whole and maybe undo the trend that sees county candidates winning in their own rural communities only to have the Asheville vote landslide them out.

    Instead let’s keep making cheap comments about Tim Moffitt “limiting” voter choice in order to stifle more diverse representation and centralize power into pockets of Democratic control.

    Oh wait, that seems to be the Democratic way. (see also President Andrew Jackson through Senator Robert Byrd)

  3. Unaffiliated Voter says:

    North and West Buncombe havent had ANY county commission REPRESENTATION in over 50 years that is known, maybe longer.
    WHY should the county conform to what an all democrat panel who lives South and East, with one in Montford happen to DICTATE, which they DO??? Buncombe Co people are too dumb to know they arent represented.

  4. Gordon Smith says:

    We are all County residents. Those in the city and outside the city.

    Anyone from any part of the County can run and win a campaign in Buncombe County.

    Limiting voter choice in favor of a geographic quota system doesn’t make sense to me. Unilaterally issuing sweeping changes in the way we select our representation is poor governance.

    I want to be able to vote for all of my representatives rather than being limited to voting for only a minority. I’m also rather weary of the antipathy directed towards Asheville, the economic and cultural hub of western North Carolina, that’s consistently rated as the best place to do most anything.

  5. Dogwood says:

    @ Gordon-If “Limiting voter choice in favor of a geographic quota system doesn’t make sense to me.” Why dont we do away with all districts in the state and just just let Raleigh and Charlotte deside who will represent us in the House? Would this be good for the 11th district? I don’t think so…Is it starting to make sense now?

    Lets be honest, you do not like the idea of teh entire county being represented opposed to Asheville city limits esentially deciding the commission, because this will work against your agenda…

    Chris Eck explains it nicely on another local blog called The Dogwood Caucus, if you would like to check it out…Google it…I think this falls within anti-spammer guidelines…

  6. Gordon Smith says:


    No, it’s perfectly fine to recommend your blog and even link to it.

    There’s clearly an argument to be made that once one crosses certain thresholds of population or vast geographic sizes that proportional representation is more effective. However, in this case neither the population nor the geography support such a move.

    As to representation. The majority of the current Commission lives outside the city limits and are considered moderate to conservative depending on your perspective. This is effective representation.

    What Mr. Moffitt’s dictum seeks is fragmentation and limiting voter choices.

  7. Tom Sullivan says:

    North Carolina has not had any REPRESENTATION in the White House … ever.

  8. Dogwood says:

    Thanks Gordon, I am glad you are interested in some dialogue and I appreciate your willingness to allow us to comment…Looking forward to future debate…

  9. RHS says:

    Residents of the city are outnumbered by residents of the county by about 2-1. The county can easily outvote the city so this business about the city outvoting the country is a red herring.

    In Mr Moffitt and the Republican controlled GA are going to insist on increasing the size of government (something I thought Republicans were against) why not do it one of two other ways:

    1) Have candidates run from the three proposed districts but be voted on county wide. This would make the entire Commission accountable to the entire county while still giving a geographic balance.

    2) Have each of the three districts elected one commissioner every two years, have three commissioners and the chair elected at large every four years. This would give staggered elections and still mean that a majority of the board is accountable to the entire county.

  10. Hazelite says:

    Aren’t all three districts currently composed of both city and county? Is this going to coupled with redistricting at the state house level?

  11. Gordon Smith says:

    Yes, Hazelite. You’re correct.

  12. RHS says:

    Why not let the voters of Buncombe County decide in a referendum? Why should state legislatures who do NOT live in Buncombe County get to vote on this matter while the people who reside here don’t?

  13. Hazelite says:

    1. How is that smaller government?

    2. So the math would be two “county” districts and one asheville district = 4 Rs and 2 Ds plus the chair either way = Rs in majority every time.

    3. Ugh

  14. TJ says:

    “. So the math would be two “county” districts and one asheville district = 4 Rs and 2 Ds plus the chair either way = Rs in majority every time.
    3. Ugh”

    That must be the new math I heard about.

    Ditto… :::ugh:::

  15. nick s says:

    There’s a straightforward counterargument, which is that districting institutionalizes a politics in which it’s beneficial to act against the interests of the county as a coherent entity. You might perceive a city/county divide now, but a commissioner whose district encompasses only a third of the county has no political incentive whatsoever to consider the interests of the other two-thirds. Republicans in Leicester and Weaverville might think they have common interests with those in Swannanoa and Fairview, but it won’t take long for them to find out otherwise.

    (How about the county commission votes on dividing up Tim Moffitt’s statehouse district into three subdistricts, each with a presidential-style elector? Two out of three wins! Or does electoral diktat only go one way?)

  16. Tom Sullivan says:

    Republicans in Leicester and Weaverville might think they have common interests with those in Swannanoa and Fairview, but it won’t take long for them to find out otherwise.

    Thanks for saying what I’ve only been thinking. It reminds me of the time I was there at the founding of an independent church. We thought ourselves pretty homogeneous in our beliefs until it came to writing a statement of faith for the IRS. That’s when all the unuttered differences rose to the surface.

  17. TJ says:

    ” We thought ourselves pretty homogeneous in our beliefs until it came to writing a statement of faith for the IRS. That’s when all the unuttered differences rose to the surface”

    Then, imagine all the unuttered ones that remain unuttered-either because someone is not bold enough to say so, or they fear judgmental attitudes from their “neighbors,” or just not being the personality type to speak up.

    Of course, some would say if they don’t speak up, they deserve what they don’t get.

    Time to visit a church and see who my “neighbors” are… at least on Sunday.

  18. brainshrub says:

    I understand the argument for more Commissioners. I understand the argument for geographic representation.

    What I don’t understand is why this needs to come from Raleigh? Surely, advocates for geographical representation can go to voters for this.

    – pvh

  19. Because if it were up to the people, the leftist voting block of teh city would far outweigh the good Christian Americans of the backwoods.

    Doncha know? It’s only Democracy when you agree with the people in charge.

  20. Gordon Smith says:

    Hey, y’all – I hope you’ll write Letters to the Editors of our fine local papers to discuss your views. Especially you, SueTwo. Your comment just needs cut and pasted into the AC-T LTE page.

    AC-T Letters to the Editor page

    Mountain X LTE info

  21. Gordon Smith says:

    From Holly Jones’ e-newsletter:

    “A recently introduced bill by Rep Tim Moffitt of Buncombe County will dramatically change the way the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners are elected. For a great recap of the history etc, I would point you to ACT editorial by David Gantt in Sunday’s edition.

    In a nutshell, Rep. Moffitt’s bill would increase the board of commissioners from five to seven members and the process would be changed from citizens being able to vote for all of members of the board of commissioners to only being able to vote for three (a minority). I think this limitation on voters is bad. The districting for commissioners would be determined by the NC house districts. These districts will be redrawn this year.

    Obviously, as an elected commissioner, I have a vested interest in this issue but my deepest concern about the impact of this legislation is in regard to how citizens are represented and moving this county forward together.

    There are several arguments for this change. I take issue with each of them in practice and principle.

    Erroneous Assumption #1: This new method would allow citizens to know who their representatives are and have improved access to communication. Based on my tenure of ten years in local politics, I find this an ill-conceived notion. An enormous number of voters do not know who their NC House representatives are. I spend a fair amount of time with citizens helping them identify their State representative, school board representative or planning board representative. For example, recently the Board of Commissioners received hundreds of letters from all over our community from citizens concerned about education cuts and most did not know who their representatives were. In this case, I communicated with dozens of citizens helping them direct their efforts to their appropriate state representative. These voters all found me because I represent everyone in this county.

    Erroneous Assumption #2: The district method would expand representation to parts of the county not currently represented on the Board of Commission. Ironically, the current Board of Commissioners represents all three NC House districts. Furthermore, even with district divisions, one area may still experience more residents being elected. Currently, we have three members of the commission from Fairview. This new method would not necessarily change this outcome. There will be no certainty that a district would be broadly represented geographically.

    Erronenous Assumption #3: This new method will make campaigns less expensive and enable less wealthy candidates to run. By far and away, the most expensive local campaigns in Buncombe County are the district elections of NC House representatives. A quick glance at the district state house campaigns show that those elections in 2010 ranged in costs from $114,000 to over $337,000! There is no data to suggest that district election would reduce the amounts required to be raised for candidates.

    These misguided assumptions are troublesome but my deepest concern about this method is that carving up our county will work against elected officials determining policy with a big picture approach. If all commissioners are concerned first about their districts how can objective decisions about allocations of resources be made? I also believe “deal cutting”: will become the primary mode of policy determination. This district method of elections will only increase the divisions that exist in our community and will do nothing to promote our efforts at bringing jobs to Buncombe County. We need to find more ways to unite people rather than divide them.

    When Rep. Moffitt says this is a non-partisian approach, I do not doubt his sincerity. However, for sincere bi-partisian efforts to unfold, which is something citizens yearn for, it is critical that trust is built. This is the year that a new party has control of redistricting and this bill has been developed and is being abruptly proposed with no inclusion of the public. Sadly, this does not build trust and appears as if other motives are at play.

    I recently heard Rep. Tim Moffitt defend this bill to the Council of Independent Business Owners. He indicated that the vast majority of people he has spoken to support it. If you have feelings about this issue, I would encourage you to speak up. You may contact Rep. Moffitt at

    I am honored to represent all the citizens of Buncombe County, at least for a few more months. This week alone voters from Mills Gap, North Buncombe, Montford, Fairview, Leicester, Black Mountain and Candler contacted me with a range of concerns. I worked for them all, regardless of residence, party affiliation, or issue. It was a privilege.”

  22. Unaffiliated Voter says:

    Its time for change however we can get it…seven commissioners seems top heavy but three is too few…each area of the county NEEDS their own commissioner, then things would shape up and IMPROVE. Do you people really WANT an ALL democrat county commmission??? Are you that naive and dare I say ignorant??? Just look at what 150 years of total democrat domination and corruption has brought to NC! Billions in DEBT, amidst vast EVIL from the long time controlling party, the party of SLAVERY and the KKK.

  23. Unaffiliated Voter says:

    Brainshrub, unlike MOST other states, NC cities and towns are totally controlled by the Legislature. Most all things MUST be approved by the controlling democrats who are nothing but power mongers…This is why individual towns in NC are so strapped by state gov, but the people are too ignorant to realize what has been done to them by the long time controlling party of slavery and the KKK.