Encourage City Council members to prioritize Racial Justice at their next meeting

On March 23rd, City Council will be voting on whether to remove the Vance Monument, and they need to hear that we support them in taking this important next step. Call or email Council today and sign up to make a public comment! Some suggested talking points, along with contact information, are below.

At that same meeting, City Council will be discussing a proposal for spending the $1.6 million gained from the City’s sale of property at 172 and 174 S. Charlotte Street – a portion of which was seized from the Black community during urban renewal – to yeast manufacturer White Labs. 

We remain deeply disappointed that the City chose to complete the sale of property obtained through urban renewal to White Labs. The RJC stands with Vice Mayor Sheneika Smith in raising questions and asking for more exploration in deciding how to use the funds from this sale in a way that is in step with the City’s stated commitment to reparations.

We encourage you to reach out to City Council to ask them to take the next few weeks to consider if the Deaverview redevelopment is the best option for the use of funds from the White Labs sale.Please consider reaching out to Council members either via email or phone or through a public comment to make your voice heard on this issue.

Scroll down for some suggested talking points (and a few other items on the agenda worth noting):

How to reach City Council Members directly:

  • To email all Council Members at once – AshevilleNCCouncil@ashevillenc.gov
  • Mayor Esther Manheimer – esthermanheimer@avlcouncil.com; 828-259-5604
  • Vice Mayor Sheneika Smith – sheneikasmith@avlcouncil.com; 704-401-9104
  • Sandra Kilgore – sandrakilgore@avlcouncil.com; 954-540-5593
  • Antanette Mosley – antanettemosley@avlcouncil.com; phone number not provided
  • Kim Roney – kimroney@avlcouncil.com; 828-771-6265
  • Sage Turner – sageturner@avlcouncil.com; 828-423-0621
  • Gwen Wisler – gwenwisler@avlcouncil.com; 828-333-1767

To make a public comment:

  • To comment live at the meetingfollow this link before 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 23. To comment on the Vance Monument removal, indicate that you want to speak on Unfinished Business D-2; to comment on the use of urban renewal profits, indicate that you want to comment on Public Hearing B; if you want to comment on both, you will need to sign up twice. Then be prepared to call in during the meeting, which starts at 5 p.m.
  • To leave a voicemail comment, call 855-925-2801, and then enter meeting code 7982, once again before 9 a.m. Tuesday. When commenting, please state your name, city of residence, and the item on which you are commenting. Once again, the Vance Monument is Unfinished Business D-2, and urban renewal profits are Public Hearing B. 
  • To send a public comment email, write to AshevilleCityCouncilMar232021@PublicInput.com by 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 24th.

Things you might say when you call or email:

About the Vance Monument: As you know, racism was declared a public health and safety crisis in our region last year. The Vance Monument is an ongoing source of harm to Black community members, and it must be removed as soon as possible. I urge you to take this necessary step, following the recommendations of the task force and so many people in our local Black communities.

About spending the $1.6 million profit from urban renewal land: I stand with Vice Mayor Smith, and urge City Council to explore the important question she raised in her recent WLOS interview: “What was lost [during urban renewal]? A sense of ownership, a sense of belonging, a sense of place. And I’m not sure that that will be restored through the renovation of Deaverview.” I also wonder, with Vice Mayor Smith, if the $1.6 million would be better invested in mortgage down payment assistance or other permanent housing options rather than renovating Deaverview. I encourage Council to join with Vice Mayor Smith to explore all the available options for spending these Urban Renewal profits in ways that are truly reparative to this city’s Black communities. 

More context on the Deaverview proposal

Other items on the agenda (which you can read in full here) and upcoming events to note:

City Council Retreat: City Council is holding its annual retreat on March 31 and April 1. Here is more information, courtesy of City Clerk Maggie Burleson: “The March 31 meeting will begin at 3:00 p.m. and the April 1 meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m., both on the Arena Floor of Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville, located at 87 Haywood Street, Asheville, N.C. This retreat will be in-person for Council members, a small number of staff and facilitators; however, due to COVID restrictions, the public and media may not attend in person. Members of the City Council and City staff will meet on March 31st prior to the start of the public meeting, but no public business will be deliberated and no actions will be taken. This portion of the retreat will not be open to the public. Access instructions to view the meeting remotely are available at https://publicinput.com/H1538, but no public comment will be taken.”

  • It’s worth noting that these retreats are usually entirely open to the public. In an unprecedented move, Council will hold almost all of the first day’s session in a private session. In combination with all of the restrictions on making public comments, which we have advocated around in the past, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that City Council wants to keep public engagement in their process to a minimum, and this is very disappointing.

School Board Interviews: At 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 23rd, City Council will be holding pre-arranged interviews for the School Board, at the timing below:

  • 11:30   Joyce Brown
  • 11:05   James Carter
  • 10:40   Michele Delange
  • 10:15   Jacqueline McHargue
  • 9:50     Patricia Griffin
  • 9:25     George Sieburg
  • 9:00     Peyton O’Conner
    • Pursuant to North Carolina General Statute § 166A-19.24(f), these will be remote interviews which the public can access by any of the following means found at https://publicinput.com/O4652
    • Council members will vote to appoint the next 3 School Board members during the Council Meeting at 5 pm (New Business VI on the agenda).

Worksession: At 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 23rd, City Council will be holding a virtual City Council worksession on the budget. No public comment will be taken. Pursuant to North Carolina General Statute § 166A-19.24(f), this will be a remote meeting which the public can access by any of the following means found at https://publicinput.com/K8566