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Mayor Manheimer, citizens call on NC lawmakers to end gerrymandering

Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer, Common Cause NC and city citizens are calling on state lawmakers to pass a redistricting law. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

The call to end gerrymandering was heard loud and clear around downtown Asheville Thursday afternoon.

Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer joined a group of citizens and Common Cause to announce support for North Carolina House Bill 200, which aims to make redistricting non-partisan.

"Gerrymandering is a short-sighted, short-term gain, with long-term losses for all, and it must end now," Manheimer announced to the crowd.

The bill, which was introduced by for Republican representatives, has yet to be heard despite bipartisan support among its 39 sponsors.

"For some reason we won't even get a Committee hearing. Kind of the bare minimum of a bill like this you would expect to receive with such broad support from both parties," said Common Cause Director of Outreach Brent Laurenz. Common Cause is a non-profit, non partisan organization that seeks to make elections more open and encourage voter participation.

Asheville is currently split into two congressional districts. The 10th, which encompasses downtown but extends to suburbs of Charlotte. And the 11th, which essentially encompasses the rest of Western North Carolina.

"We're really kind of ground zero in terms of what you can see is the impact of gerrymandering," Mayor Manheim said.

But some local GOP members believe the bill would derail another effort that's currently proposing to split Asheville's city council into districts.

"I didn't hear anything about common cause until the Republicans got in power, then we were approached all the time about this bipartisan effort," said Buncombe County GOP Chair Carl Mumpower. "Now if they're concerned, how come they're not doing something in Asheville where we've had a 7-0 control by the left for the last eight years and a 5-2 control the whole part of this century."

Asheville's city council seats are currently elected at large.

Brent Laurenz told News 13, "We’ve been working on this issue since about 2005, when the other party was in charge obviously. Did not get much traction in that decade. We’ve actually gotten more traction in this decade."

Common Core is urging those who support House Bill 200 to contact their local representative or House Speaker Tim Moore.

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