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Asheville City Council member Cecil Bothwell has vowed that recent email threats from legislators in Raleigh will not stop him or his peers on Council from pursuing a lawsuit against the state for illegal seizure of the city's water system, a billion-dollar asset.
Last month, HB 488, the bill forcing a merger of the Asheville water system with the Metropolitan Sewerage District, was allowed to become law without Gov. Pat McCrory's signature. Asheville City Council members then unanimously voted to take the fight to the courts, where they may easily prevail. Since then, Mayor Terry Bellamy and some members of City Council have received emails from state representatives implying that further harmful legislation will be pursued against the City of Asheville if the lawsuit is not settled.
“In our communication with them we have made it pretty clear that we would have happily accepted the transfer if Asheville were paid the $1.2 billion value of the watershed they are stealing from City taxpayers who bought it one hundred years ago, and grant Asheville membership on the new board in direct proportion to the number of water customers that live within the City limits, but they don't want to do that,” Bothwell said.
Instead, state representatives have begun more fervently discussing altering Asheville's city elections to a district model instead of the at-large model in which the elections currently operate. This provision would require that Council elections be put off by a full year, and would give the State the right to approve or disapprove of City-drawn Council districts. This move would severely undermine Asheville's political integrity and its ability to manager its own affairs.
In addition, the State has been unclear about legislation that could affect the City budget as the budget deadline draws near, including the proposed Asheville-Buncombe County Parks Authority. Ultimately, state representatives are holding the budgets of Buncombe County and the City of Asheville hostage as they attempt to extort a settlement of the water dispute they initiated. “Both local governments, the city and county, are required to finalize balanced budgets by June 30, and until we know which legislation with significant fiscal impact is going to be approved or tabled, we have no way to fulfill that mandate,” Bothwell said.
Incumbent Cecil Bothwell is running for re-election for another four-year term on the Asheville City Council. Bothwell is an investigative reporter, builder, organic gardener and public servant.
For more information about Cecil Bothwell's campaign, visit bothwell2013.com. You can also contact Holly Cian, Communications Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 828-989-7257.