by WorldTribune Staff, October 13, 2017
A growing socialist presence in Asheville, North Carolina “became clear” recently “when a full third of the candidate field heading into the Oct. 10 city council primary self-identified as socialists,” according to a report by Asheville Unreported.
The revelations were made at a candidate forum sponsored by the Asheville chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).
The four candidates were Cecil Bothwell, Rich Lee, Sheneika Smith, and Dee Williams. Candidates Kim Roney and Jan Kubiniec also were in attendance but stopped short of calling themselves socialists.
Political analysts note that the emergence of that many self-proclaimed socialists in a nonpartisan municipal election in a small southern city reflects a spreading national trend.
“The new recruits were overwhelmingly young, deeply shaken by the mere fact of Trump’s election and enraged at a Democratic Party establishment whose machinations, they felt, had robbed them of Sen. Bernie Sanders, the avowed democratic socialist who had become their standard bearer,” Roger McCredie wrote for Asheville Unreported.
On election night 2016, the DSA’s membership stood at about 8,000. Within 24 hours of Donald Trump’s election victory, membership in the DSA soared to 25,000. Current estimates put membership at about 28,200.
“Many will tell you Asheville is the liberal enclave surrounded by a conservative beltway. The City Council has supported every non-conservative state legislative action – it flew a gay pride flag from City Hall when the courts struck down the ban on same sex marriage last October,” McCredie wrote.
One of the Asheville candidates, incumbent Cecil Bothwell, had said that “I have consistently acted as a socialist in my personal life and as an elected official.”
Bothwell fell short in his quest for another term. The Oct. 10 primary whittled down the number of city council candidates from 12 to 6. Those remaining face off in the general election on Nov. 7.
Bothwell finished 7th in the council race, just 106 votes from 6th place finisher Roney. Businessman Vijay Kapoor was by far the leading vote getter in the council primary, followed by Smith, Gwen Wisler, Williams, Lee, and Roney.