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Referendum gives voters a voice on Asheville districts

Council members decided to place the referendum on the ballot to see how residents felt about splitting Asheville into districts. Mailers and signs in support of districts started popping up around the area, a few days before the election. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

With early voting well underway, a referendum about splitting Asheville into voting districts is becoming an even bigger topic of discussion.

State lawmakers already passed a law requiring districts for the City of Asheville.

Council members decided to place the referendum on the ballot to see how residents felt.

Mailers and signs in support of districts started popping up around the area, a few days before the election.

Dusty Pless, a resident of South Asheville, says the campaign is part of Neighbors for Asheville, an organized referendum committee.

He said districts would make things easier for everyone.

“It doesn't prevent anyone from running for city council from running. They can still run. It's just going to make it a lot easier and a lot cheaper and you have a representative from your area that you can call on,” Pless said.

One of the biggest reasons people have doubts about splitting Asheville into districts is that the law was enacted by state lawmakers, not Asheville residents.

Pless, however, said this is a local effort to get districts.

According to the most recent pre-referendum report, the vast majority of donors have listed Asheville addresses, but there are a few outside of the city.

The two biggest contributions came from Omni Hotels and Resorts and the NC Restaurant and Lodging Association based in Raleigh at $1,000 each.

“The Raleigh one, that was pushed by local business. It just happened to be an organization that those people happen to be a member of,” Pless said.

Some city leaders say residents voting against districts would boost a possible legal challenge to the law.

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