Clarification: The initial version of this post quoted remarks from Mayor Terry Bellamy that the selection of Esther Manheimer as vice mayor marked the first time Asheville has had a female mayor and vice mayor. Bellamy was incorrect, however, and the article, has been revised accordingly.
Tonight, Dec. 6, Asheville City Council unanimously elected Council member Esther Manheimer as the new vice mayor, swore Marc Hunt, Chris Pelly and Jan Davis into its ranks, and bid farewell to Vice Mayor Brownie Newman and Council member Bill Russell. Davis is returning for a third term, while Hunt and Pelly are new to Council.
"It's with a great deal of enthusiasm that I'd like to place a nomination for Esther Manheimer," said Davis, who served as vice mayor from 2007-2009. Council member Gordon Smith seconded the motion, saying to Manheimer, "You've demonstrated a lot of leadership, you run some tight meetings and you have been able to really reach across all the lines that can appear in our city."
The vice mayor carries out the mayor's duties when she's absent, something that may happen more frequently now that Mayor Terry Bellamy is running for the 10th District congressional seat.
"I don't think this city has ever had a female mayor and vice mayor at the same time," Bellamy said. "I think we just made history."
Bellamy was, however, mistaken, as Holly Jones served as vice mayor during the first part of her first term, from 2005-07.
"I'm honored that my colleagues have elected me to this position, and I plan to serve with vigor and live up to their expectations," Manheimer said.
Bellamy also read proclamations recognizing Newman and Russell's service on Council. Newman has been on Council since 2003, and Bellamy praised him as a consensus builder on difficult issues. She noted Russell's dedication to preserving the city's financial stability.