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City Council moves to eliminate primaries

Aiming to avoid October primaries in city elections, the Hendersonville City Council moved on Thursday night to switch to plurality elections starting with the 2024 election cycle.

The council's action came after the state Legislature moved all city elections in Henderson County from odd to even-numbered years, prompting Henderson County Elections Director Summer Heatherly to ask the city council to move its primary from October to March in line with state and national offices.

The council took the first step to amend the city charter to eliminate primaries on Thursday night by adopting a statement of intent. It must also hold a public hearing before voting to make the change, most likely in its November meeting.

“Even if you did change it by ordinance, it can still change by legislation and you couldn't do anything about it because the state statute’s always going to trump your ordinance, just like what they did,” City Attorney Angela Beeker told the council.

"The Board of Elections wants to align everything so that they don't have two filing periods, two primaries," she said.

All five council members signaled their support for the change.

“I'm definitely in favor of doing the plurality method because it's not just costly to the city and the taxpayers (to hold a primary) but it's costly to people running," council member Jennifer Hensley said. "These are small municipal elections and we don't generate a lot of money. Most people have jobs as well, trying to work and campaigning, having to generate extra money. It's a lot."

Hensley and mayor pro tem Lyndsey Simpson are the two council members up for re-election in 2024.