Local News

 

2013 Voter Guide

 

Asheville Mayor

All candidates were given the same questions:

1. Why are you running?           

2. Please identify the issue in your community deserving immediate attention. How can it be addressed?           

3. Please cite examples of how the community will need to meet change during your term.           

4. How do you view the recent actions of the General Assembly and how do they affect your constituents?           

5. How do you define the role of government at the local level?           

6. Bonus Question:  What is your favorite song, and why?

 

Esther Manheimer

1. I am running for mayor of Asheville because I, along with the citizens of Asheville, have a vested interest in the future of our city and ensuring that we continue to experience a high quality of life in Asheville. I want to lead our community as it moves forward together by insisting that the values we share are instilled in the decisions and policies of the city of Asheville. Through partnerships and collaboration I look forward to continuing to work with city council and the citizens of Asheville to further the implementation of our shared goals surrounding affordable housing, improved sidewalks and greenway infrastructure, environmental I initiatives which reduce the city’s carbon footprint, and sound financial planning focused on creating a long-term stable revenue base.

 

2. Several issues in the Asheville community deserve immediate attention however Asheville has proactively planned for the future so that no one issue is an emergency. A forward thinking city council with effective leadership will stay ahead of the curve in dealing with issues facing the community. Some of the issues Asheville faces and that I hope to lead city council in continuing to address are as follows: Fiscal sustainability - the city has embarked on a long-term economic sustainability program. By investing in areas ripe for redevelopment such as the south slope of downtown and the River Arts District and attracting investors like New Belgium the city reaps the reward of partnering with investors that share the city's goals but also grow the city’s tax base and therefore the city's main source of revenues in a sustainable long-term manner. This program of reinvestment will allow the city to become less and less susceptible to both federal and state funding fluctuations. The city can then use this growing sustainable revenue source to emphasize expenditures that enhance our quality of life such as parks and recreation amenities and greenway infrastructure as well as other investments which benefit every citizen living in Asheville. Job growth - our community has enjoyed a declining unemployment rate, resulting in one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state, however Asheville now needs to focus on the quality of job growth. Our service industry has enjoyed the greatest overall job growth yet service industry jobs may not alone satisfy the quality of jobs needed in the Asheville area. Therefore the city must promote economic incentives and infrastructure improvements which attract high quality employers and jobs. Carbon Reduction The United States Conference of Mayors awarded Asheville its 2013 award for climate protection efforts. This comes as a result of the city council setting a goal to cut the city’s carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2030. The city has cut carbon emissions from municipal services by 17.67 percent in the five years since the adoption of the goal, and created a self-sustaining fund which uses the savings from energy expenditures by investing in new carbon reduction programs. If elected, I will lead city council in the continuation of achieving the city’s carbon reduction goal as well as continuing programs throughout the community which help all of Asheville’s citizens aid in the effort to change the course of global climate warming. These programs include enhanced recycling (residential and commercial), exploration of composting, enhanced multimodal options (enhanced transit, enhanced bike infrastructure, enhanced sidewalk infrastructure all promoting policies that discourage driving), and other policies which seek to achieve the same goal. Affordable Housing - Asheville has focused on creating a fund that continuously provides revenue for affordable housing projects. However this community is also focused on growing affordable housing in ways that provides quality of life to the recipients of affordable housing and enhances the community in a parallel fashion. For example Asheville supported the development of the Larchmont project on Merrimon Avenue built by Mountain Housing Opportunities. This provided affordable, attractive housing that is also located on an urban corridor near jobs, transportation, and food resources. At the same time this project supported Asheville's policy of encouraging dense urban infill rather than urban sprawl. In addition Asheville is supporting the Eagle Market Street project which will provide affordable housing downtown also near jobs and transportation and satisfy the goal of dense urban infill but at the same time will also enhance a deprived area of downtown in great need of investment. This investment will encourage and support redevelopment in the surrounding area thus meeting multiple goals in addition to providing affordable housing. Multimodal transportation - sidewalks, greenways, bike lanes, and transit. Asheville continues to focus on growing multimodal transportation in all forms including sidewalks, greenways, bike lanes and transit services. While I have served on council I have supported increased transit services, funding of the Greenway Master plan and increased construction of sidewalks throughout the city. If I am elected mayor of the city of Asheville I will lead council in continued funding and development of multimodal transportation services.

 

3. The community must continue to engage its local government to advocate for and support initiatives that the community believes will enhance the experience of every citizen living in Asheville. City council greatly depends upon the engagement of the community to initiate policies or support policies that the community believes are in the best interest of our city. An example of community engagement includes the River Arts District redevelopment plan, the crafting of the downtown master plan, and the current creation of the Haywood Road corridor form-based code zoning overlay. Citizens in Asheville are continuing to work effectively to interact with city council in the face of major decisions that affect their neighborhoods directly, but also decisions that affect the community as a whole.

 

4. The recent actions of the General Assembly are harmful to Asheville and seek to lessen the strength and function of local governments, specifically municipalities. There are some actions of the General Assembly that affect all cities in North Carolina but there are specific bills enacted by the General Assembly that undermine the city of Asheville. Water. Recently the General Assembly passed a bill that attempts to take the city of Asheville's water system away from the citizens of Asheville and transfer it to an independent district governed by a 15 member board of which only three members shall be appointed by the city of Asheville. This harms Asheville financially and harms Asheville’s ability to ensure that it will have a safe and plentiful water supply in the future. Parks and recreation authority. The city subsidizes its parks and recreation amenities at approximately $8 million per year. Because Asheville serves as a regional hub, its parks and recreation amenities are used by many people throughout the county and the region. Therefore Asheville sought to be a part of a countywide parks and recreation authority to distribute the cost of the parks and recreation subsidy countywide. However the legislature removed Asheville from the bill before its final enactment denying Asheville the ability to participate in the countywide authority. This harms the citizens of Asheville financially and in the ability to offer enhanced parks and recreation amenities. Living wage. The legislature recently passed a bill that prohibits cities from requiring independent contractors bidding on city contracts to provide a living wage to their employees. City council adopted a policy to require that all contractors bidding on city contracts pay their employees a living wage and now the legislature has preempted the city from making that requirement of contractors working for the city. Airport. The legislature sought to create an independent airport authority for the Asheville regional Airport. The bill, however, overreached this goal by transferring the land upon which the airport is situated to the airport authority and by requiring that Asheville's zoning authority over the airport be stripped. Again this bill seeks to undermine the citizens of Asheville in preserving the investments they have historically made in our community. E TJ. The legislature removed Asheville's right to exert zoning authority in certain extraterritorial zoning jurisdictions surrounding the city of Asheville. The E TJ has historically been used as a buffer for the citizens of Asheville against areas in the county that are not subject to land zoning requirements that preserve the integrity of the land. However this legislature is hostile to the concept of an extraterritorial zoning jurisdiction in Asheville and in other municipalities in the state and therefore passed legislation eliminating the ETJ.

 

5. Interactive and engaging. Local government as opposed to state and federal government is tangible and accessible to all persons in the community. Local government is here to serve the community and garner the community?s values and goals and craft policies that achieve those goals while remaining faithful to concerns and desires of the community. On the one hand local government provides basic services like recycling, garbage pickup, police and fire services, sidewalk and road repair, transit services, and storm water management, for example, and on the other hand a progressive forward thinking local government can harness the direction of a community and further policies that enhance the quality of life of its citizens through initiatives like carbon footprint reduction, affordable housing initiatives, greenway enhancements, bike Lane infrastructure improvement, investment in our community to steer economic development into areas that enhance rather than deplete our community, and investment in our community that sustains and grows the city's revenue base for the long-term making the city less dependable on the fluctuations of an erratic legislature.

 

6. Same Love. By Macklemore and Ryan Lewis Why? I love that my children love this song and that it gives us an opportunity to discuss an important issue about civil rights.

 

 

John Miall

1. I believe my history as an Asheville native; 30 year career as a City employee serving multiple Councils, Managers, and the public; Serving as a City Council appointee and Chair of the Civil Service Board; And my reputation locally and nationally as a leader who brings people together to achieve new and successful outcomes is desperately needed in the community. The issues we face from a hostile Legislative delegation, fiscal turmoil, and one scandal after another from our current leadership speaks volumes about how serious our needs are.

 

2. Leadership. One may "manage" processes... One must "lead" people. Sadly, our current leadership has for several years confused these two very different functions. It can be addressed by setting the right tone, and assuming the mantle of leadership that the Mayor's office demands. I believe in the model of the "Servant Leader" as defined by Robert K. Greenleaf that the effective leader must first serve. I would not be worthy to lead, if I were not first willing to serve. Having served the community my entire life as a civil servant, and multiple public non-profit boards I have long understood the need to serve others, and from that service mentality, leadership may be demonstrated. A critical issue we are facing currently and will face going forward is the need for new non-property tax sources of revenue. Asheville is the only major city in the State of North Carolina without access to even a penny of room tax revenue. Most of the rest of the State, and indeed the nation meet some of their infrastructure needs via room taxes. The citizens of Asheville cannot sustain the load they are carrying of financing all the infrastructure and service needs demanded by tourists and people in the region using our city. I listened carefully to the staff presentations on April 3, 2013 at the Civic Center when Council told us the fiscal sky was falling.... We were told they might have to close parks; end Little League; close a fire station.... The list went on and on. What struck me was that the staff never said, "Our revenues are down." In fact, I suspect they did not say that because their own audited financial records for the year ending June 30, 2012 showed the City had in INCREASE in revenues of 3.8% that year.... Not bad for a "down" economy. What the DID say was, "Our expenses are increasing five times faster than revenues." I hope the voters in Asheville understand that if you have nearly a 4% increase in revenues in a given year, but that your expenses are rising five times faster, then YOU HAVE A SPENDING PROBLEM and not a revenue problem. So, did our leaders do naything to get control or out of control spending? No, they increased revenuse by way of new taxes and fees. The recent 12% increase levied on taxpayers (combined solid waste / recycling fee and $.04 tax increase combined) should have been adopted ONLY after the City got its spending problem under control.

 

3. Asheville will no longer be able to grow "outward" through annexation. Density and the problems that entails will be our future. In addition, Asheville has lost its bearing on providing basic (core) government services in lieu of a frenzy to spend resources on every development scheme brought before its leaders all in the name of "economic development and sustainability." Merely saying these words does not make it happen. We need to have metrics and research to validate any economic development initiative to be considered. Absent real market research and measurable metrics to assure desired outcomes are being achieved we should not be spending money beyond core government services. The density growth Asheville will see in the future will stress our already underfunded public safety and sanitation capabilities. To coin a phrase, "Before we plan that trip to the beach, we need to be able to pay our bills." Basics first, then anything else...

 

4. I am dissappointed in the spate of legislation in the recent session that has negatively affected Asheville. From the theft of our airport to the pending theft of our water system our assets and property are being taken without compensation. And, I would observe that the actions of our legislators have stolen the faith and confidence our taxpayers should have in our system of government. Might does not make right.... Because they CAN do the things they are doing does not justify the acts themselves. Our citizens have been pummeled by the very people elected to serve them. I take a long view of issues both historically, and looking ahead. The seeds of the water issue were sewn many years ago. Asheville has squandered any good will it had in the way it dissolved the former water agreements. I would be the first to admit the former agreements were not working as originally intended, but the manner in which we dealt with those issues in part gave rise to the hostile environment we find ourselves in. It will take years to build and sustain the relationships we need to survive and move forward but it is not too late to begin that process.

 

5. North Carolina Law by design treats local government very paternalistically. Local government may only do those things that the Legislature allows them to do under their charter. Simply stated, we have to have their permission for everything we do. The City of Asheville has a duty to provide basic municipal services (police, fire, sanitation, inspections, etc.) and, NO such duty to perform "economic development." Until Asheville can perform these core services for the taxes its citizens are paying without NEW fees for trash pickup we have no business giving funds to museums or anything else.... Our streets are a mess, and any casual observer will see that the limited sidewalks we have are being overtaken with vegetation. Those sidewalks will not have half a normal life expectancy unless we begin now to maintain them. That our own Public Works Director stated in the recent budget presentations that our current schedule to re-surface streets is approximatley 65 years when optimally it should be 25 years is unbeleivable. Not in that I doubt her assessment.... Sadly, I think she is absolutely correct. We aren't meeting basic needs while we talk about spending more money on "south slope development, riverfront development, and museums."

 

6. "Hey Jude," by The Beatles. Many years ago I attended a Paul McCartney concert in Columbia, SC. He ended that show with that song.... I told friends afterward that if I had died that night my life was complete... I had sang Hey Jude live, in concert with Paul McCartney. Well, me and about 40,000 other people, but we all sang our hearts out.

 

Asheville City Council (Choose 3)

All candidates were given the same questions:

1. Why are you running?           

2. Please identify the issue in your community deserving immediate attention. How can it be addressed?           

3. Please cite examples of how the community will need to meet change during your term.           

4. How do you view the recent actions of the General Assembly and how do they affect your constituents?           

5. How do you define the role of government at the local level?           

6. Bonus Question:  What is your favorite song, and why?

 

Cecil Bothwell

1. I feel I have effectively represented the majority of people in Asheville in my first term, and I am willing to continue to serve the citizens of the city for one more term.

 

2. My core goal is to reduce our environmental impact, to cut taxpayer costs by reducing energy use, to facilitate citizen energy savings, and to boost the local economy via local production of power.

 

3. I kicked off a program called the Asheville Metro Area Zero Energy District. Collaborating with Asheville Green Opportunities, we've begun peer-to-peer education on do-it-yourself conservation measures. With the Blue Ridge Sustainabiliy Institute, we're pushing Solarize Asheville, a neighborhood program to install photovoltaics on roofs throughout the city. And I'm heading up a program to help businesses find the most cost-effective steps to reducing their power bills and create healthier workplaces for employees. Asheville's citizens are already the "greenest" in the state, and we need to continue to be green leaders in coming years.

 

4. In its 2010 and 2012 sessions the NC GA has severely undercut progress made in this state in recent decades. The shift of taxes from rich to poor, cuts to education, rejection of billions in federal Medicaid funding, undercutting of environmental regulations and more are not what the GOP promised during their campaigns. They have decided to impose an extreme right-wing, pro-corporate ideology on the people they are supposed to serve."Small government" Republicans suddenly decided to dictate their wishes to cities and counties once they assumed power.

 

5. Local government's chief mandate involves public safety: police, fire protection and public health (including safe water, sewage disposal and garbage collection). In a broader sense, zoning and land use rules at the local level either create a livable community or permit unregulated development that drives people and businesses away. Rule making around development is usually the most contentious, and most delicate part of local governance permitting and encouraging growth while protecting the interests of existing residents. Finding ways to encourage affordable housing and to provide transit alternatives is particularly important for the workforce that enables businesses to thrive in the city as well.

 

6. "Brothers in Arms," by Dire Straits. It reminds me of my brother. I played it on my cell phone as I scattered his ashes in his favorite lake."Let me bid you farewell, every man has to die. But its written in the stars and every line in your palm, they are fools to make war on my brothers in arms."

 


Mike Lanning

1. I am passionate in my desire to continue to serve the citizens of Asheville as a City Council Member. I was born and raised in Asheville and I know and understand the diversities of people living in this unique place. This would include others like myself who were born and raised here as well as others who have relocated from other places; people who love calling Asheville home. My career was built around serving the public with a military and law enforcement background for over thirty years. I have a life time of experience listening to the needs of the public and mitigating conflicts and finding solutions to peoples problems. My career working for local government gives me great insight into how the political system and local government works. I have seen successes and failures with the inner workings of the city and understand what needs to change to improve its effectiveness. Making decisions by serving on City Council will give me the opportunity to give all citizens of Asheville a city that they are proud to reside in. I will make decisions based on what is best for the city and it's people, not by political affiliation. I will bring accountability and transparency to City Council. Citizens need to Trust its Leaders.

 

2. After serving the citizens of Asheville for 30 years I consider my Community to be the entire City. There are several issues that need intimidate attention. However with any city the safety of its citizens should be the top priority. Public Safety: The Asheville Police Department has had recent issues, however its not something that can't be over come with the right Leadership in place to set the example. Issues I will address and make top priority within the Asheville Police Department will include turn over rate, manpower shortage and staffing to ensure safety and quick response for the citizens of Asheville. Retention at the Asheville Police Department: Retention of officers at the Asheville Police Department must be addressed. It cost an average of $42,000 dollars to educate and train each officer before they actually begin to preform the basic function as a police officer. Each officer completes four months of Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET); completes 4-12 more weeks of Field Training which consist of riding with and being evaluated each day by a Field Training Officer. Leadership within the Asheville Police Department: Morale is at an all time low at the Asheville Police Department and must be addressed and can not be ignored or over looked. Command Staff at the Asheville Police Department must be held to a higher standard. It is my opinion through experience while I worked as an officer at the Asheville Police Department there is a double standard for Command Staff and Patrol Officers when it comes to all levels of treatment and accountability. Police Command Staff must be held accountable and lead by example.

 

3. Change is almost always met with some resistance. But if educated and provided all the facts change can be positive. Change whether positive or negative is sometimes only decided from ones own personal perspective. Financially the City of Asheville is going to have to make some tough decisions on setting priorities. The infrastructure has been ignored and is in need of attention. Its time we changed direction in priorities and began focusing on providing better services to our citizens and fixing the problems we have ignored for too long.

 

4. I view the actions by the General Assembly the same way I do with decisions made in the past by the City of Asheville Example: Asheville Water System Law Suite and Asheville Police Officers Law Suite. What they have in common. The City of Asheville has filed a law suite against the State of North Carolina to defend its ownership of its resource (water system). I support the City of Asheville filing this law suite. The Mayor and City Council have been outspoken over the state taking away the city's resource (water system). I find it hypocritical of City Leaders who did not intervene, however supported Asheville City Staff when resources, such as sick time was being taken away from Asheville Police Officers. A benefit that officers had earned and had been accumulating for some twenty years or more. The officers had to file a Federal Law Suite to regain their resource back just as the City of Asheville is having to do against the State of North Carolina. I don't see any difference in the two issues. The State of North Carolina and the City of Asheville made their decisions the way they did because they could. City Leaders need to take care of all its resources which would also include City Employees. The cities Greatest Resource.

 

5. Governments primary function is to provide services to its citizens by the use of taxes. The services to include police, fire, sanitation, street, sidewalk,transportation, Parks and other infrastructure maintenance issues that assist in Quality of Life issues. Local Government can also play a substantial role in recruiting new businesses who pay living wages. Jobs that will assist with the economic growth of the city.

 

6. My favorite song is Band on the Run by Paul McCartney and Wings. Why: Because it is the first album I purchased as a teen at the age of thirteen in 1973.

 

 

Gordon Smith

1. I’m running for re-election to City Council because I believe we can Grow Asheville’s middle class. We can continue to support the creation of living wage jobs and accelerate our medium and small businesses in new ways. We can have more affordable housing, a more comprehensive multimodal transportation network, and stronger food systems. We can invest in our city, creating conditions for a healthy economic future. Asheville is an aspirational city. We aspire to sustainability in our economy, our environment, and our society. We are people who work hard to make a living and to make a difference. Together we can continue on a path to prosperity that gives everyone the opportunity for a great life.

 

2. Growing Asheville?s middle class means increasing employment opportunities while addressing affordability. Asheville led North Carolina in job creation in 2012 thanks to our entrepreneurs and corporate partners working together with policy makers to create more sustainable, family wage jobs across sectors. I support revisiting our economic incentives policies to better support medium and small homegrown business as well as supporting builders of affordable housing. Investing in infrastructure in the River Arts District and South Slope of downtown will invite private investments in these areas as well. Increasing our commitment to affordable housing and affordable transportation will keep our community a welcoming place.

 

3. In order meet our community's needs for local jobs, affordable housing, affordable transportation, we're pursuing a smart growth development strategy that emphasizes density, infill, and livability principles. This will mean using our existing infrastructure to support more residents while reinvesting in our neighborhoods to ensure safety and quality of life. Our building codes will need to adapt as well, and on Haywood Road we're piloting a new way to look at community planning that anticipates future density.

 

4. While there have been a few bright spots, the North Carolina General Assembly has demonstrated a general hostility towards cities across the state. With budget cuts, asset seizures, and a willingness to ignore the desires of city residents, the NCGA's new course challenges Asheville to become more independent and more resilient, so we can weather the storms that may continue to blow in from Raleigh.

 

5. Municipal Government is responsible for fiscal responsibility, infrastructure, public safety, economic development, community development, public transportation, land-use planning, and more. Creating conditions for our citizens to succeed is my number one priority.

 

6. What a hard question! Only one, huh? I'm going to offer the one that came to my mind first - Get Behind The Mule by Tom Waits.

 

 

Jonathan Wainscott [No Response]

Gwen Wisler [No Response]

 

Black Mountain Mayor

All candidates were given the same questions:

1. Why are you running?           

2. Please identify the issue in your community deserving immediate attention. How can it be addressed?           

3. Please cite examples of how the community will need to meet change during your term.           

4. How do you view the recent actions of the General Assembly and how do they affect your constituents?           

5. How do you define the role of government at the local level?           

6. Bonus Question:  What is your favorite song, and why?

 

Larry Harris

1. I'm running for mayor of Black Mountain because I feel I have the experience, the leadership skills and the character to lead our Board of Alderman and the citizens of Black Mountain in a competent manner. Just as importantly I feel I can represent our town in a very positive fashion in Buncombe County and beyond. A mayor should be the chief advocate for his or her community.

 

2. Although we have had effective planning by our leadership over the years this chore never ends as new issues continuously arise that require forward thinking. I believe it essential to think strategically about transportation and the downtown business district.

 

3. I think we will become more aware of our core strengths and understand that resources are limited based on economic realities at the local, state and federal level. There will be growth but the reality is that we were living in a financial bubble for such a long time and we are still adjusting. We are beginning to get our feet back on the ground. It is really a good thing. All that said I hope to encourage the creation of sound infrastructure that will foster growth consistent with our community.

 

4. Our race in Black Mountain is non partisan but these matters are certainly important to folks in Black Mountain and an effective mayor should be able to lead in the discussion in one’s community. I support some legislation passed in the NC General Assembly in 2013 and some I do not support. I think the actions taken to reform our tax structure are incredibly important. We simply are not going to be able compete with our neighboring states for new business expansion without tax reform. So I think that beginning to alter the structure of our tax system in NC and good thing.

 

5. Government at the local level is simply the best. In my case I have the privilege of public service in my very own home town. That’s pretty special. The other aspect of local government is that you have such an opportunity to make a difference. A town like Black Mountain has a good bit of bureaucracy but certainly less than at the county and state levels. This makes public service all the more personal and effective. You have the opportunity to make your town better in terms of relationships and community. How can you beat that?

 

6. “Carolina in the Morning” - because we sing it in such an outstanding manner at the Black Mountain Rotary Club.

 

 

Michael Sobol

1. To finish the greenway system that Michael Blaine and I designed in 1994.To complete the town square project and to continue the positive momentum of this board as we have worked to correct past boards mistakes.

 

2. Retaining the positive momentum of this board during the past two years. We don't know what new problems are ahead but if we can continue to work together, as we have, we'll find ways to resolve issues that are certain to arise.

 

3. Change is a constant.The mayor and board need to reduce resistance to the changes so that we can talk and work together to morph a plan. How? To think, to have dialogue and to develop a plan that is good for the town.

 

4. They practice their mantra-I've got mine, hurray for me and screw you. Our existence as a town is in their hands. They can dissolve our town charter with a stroke of a pen. They tout small government but use sledge hammer government, like taking away the Asheville water system. Go figure.

 

5. To provide the basic services for our citizens. All politics is local and it is the basis on which all other levels of government are built.

 

6. Maria. Free spirit.

 

 

Black Mountain Aldermen (Choose 2)

All candidates were given the same questions:

1. Why are you running?           

2. Please identify the issue in your community deserving immediate attention. How can it be addressed?           

3. Please cite examples of how the community will need to meet change during your term.           

4. How do you view the recent actions of the General Assembly and how do they affect your constituents?           

5. How do you define the role of government at the local level?           

6. Bonus Question:  What is your favorite song, and why?

 

Tom Gill

1. I am a visionary leader who is unafraid to look into the future and ask "Why not?" I believe that we need a voice on the Board willing to speak to the future of Black Mountain. Furthermore, I believe we need strong leadership to encourage us onward into our positive future. I have ideas that I believe will strengthen our economic base and will therefore produce some new jobs. I also have ideas about how we can better utilize the resources we already have while at the same time improving our crumbling infrastructure.

 

2. We must look forward into the future and plan for it otherwise we will be ill prepared to face the challenges that come our way. This requires vision. Over the past few years we have, of necessity, cut costs and trimmed to the bone in many areas. Unfortunately, this can result in a rigid "we can't do that" frame of mind. Some of the greatest national infrastructure growth came during the Great Depression in the 1930s. While I am not an advocate of foolish spending, I do believe that at times some spending is necessary to engage more participation by the greater community. We can look at the Town Square that is in the process of being built as an example. The Town purchased the property and then tasked the Steering Committee with finding ways to fund construction. Over the past 42 months much planning and work has been done and now we are seeing the fruit of that vision.

 

3. I am not convinced that anyone has a real good grip on how the Affordable Health Care Act will impact our businesses. I am an advocate for business in Town and for finding ways and means for existing businesses to grow and new ones to move into Black Mountain. As a Town, we must create an environment that enables entrepreneurs to flourish and invites new businesses to relocate here. That means we must examine our permitting processes and find ways to offer incentives for businesses. Another issue that is of great importance is that of home-based businesses. I am sure there are areas where we can create zones that would allow for greater business use of the home.

 

4. I believe that a large segment of our population has been disenfranchised by the recent actions of the General Assembly. In light of this, I wish to express my distaste of partisan political stances that cause division. The good of the people, every one of them, is what is important, not political ideologies that separate discussions and decisions into groups of red or blue. It is time to lay down the party line and take a stance for united communities.

5. I believe the role of government at the local level should be even-handed and fair, and that volunteerism should be fostered and encouraged. It should also be a place where everyone feels as if they have a voice and can be heard. Our government should be open and available to all of the citizens, knowing that at any time some will be unable to attend meetings. Finally, our local government should be trustworthy and faithful at all times.

 

6. "Shout to the Lord" by Darlene Zschech. When Kathy and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary, we renewed our vows. "Shout to the Lord" was popular in our church at the time, and as I thought of Kathy and of all that she meant to me, I could only think of shouting to the Lord of my love for her and of the joy in our marriage. That was just over twelve years ago and I still feel the same way.

 

 

E.V. Gouge [No Response]

 

Tim Rayburn  [No Response]

 

Carlos Showers

1. I am seeking re-election to the Black Mountain Board of Alderman to continue working on improving the quality of life and leisure for all Town citizens.

 

2. As with so many communities in our Country, the most prevalent issues concern the economy and how we must show fiscal restraint and smart spending to achieve the necessary base for all the citizens to be successful.

 

3. We will need to look long and hard at fiscal spending; improvements in our public safety departments; retention of employees valuable to the progress of the Town and the realization that Black Mountain is a Town for all citizens and not select groups.

 

4. I believe that the General Assembly failed horribly the citizens of this State and in particularly Black Mountain. By closing the Juvenile Detention Center, they put local citizens out of jobs, made families retreat to find alternate means to be successful and created a hardship for families with children in crisis, by transferring these children hundreds of miles away to another detention facility. The Assembly did not listen to the citizens of the State, but chose to take out vendettas against the Democrats and President Obama and failed the citizens they were elected to serve.

 

5. The local government is obligated to serve as the voice and administrator of the community. We are to be open, honest and morally ethical in the delivery of services to fulfill the citizens wants and needs.

 

6. "Let's Get It On" by Marvin Gaye. I just loved the soul that Marvin put into his music and how his songs told a story particular to that time. I believe in ol' school.

 

 

Ryan Stone

1. I am running because I believe in Black Mountain and because I believe what my grandfather told me often ?We have an obligation to leave things better then we found them.? I feel there must be people serving on the board who will listen to the citizens and diligently work toward meeting their needs. I know how important it is for board members to work together in order to reach fair solutions to any problem. Respect should always be shown between the board members and towards the public. When people attend the board meetings, they have a right to attend and voice their concerns. I believe in seeking community solutions to engage citizens and create a sense of ownership of the community. I believe in maintaining a low tax rate so as not to place additional burdens on families who are struggling to pay bills and buy groceries. I want to create and foster an environment of success in which citizens, staff, and visitors understand that their contributions to this community are valued and appreciated. I feel strongly that the younger generation should become involved in town government and know the best decisions are reached by combining both fresh ideas with more experienced ones.

 

2. I believe that one of the most pressing issues in our community is to remain fiscally responsible. We have to protect our fund balance, improve efficiency, and maintain a low tax rate. We need to fully fund public safety and public works, prioritize infrastructure and capital project spending and develop a debt reduction strategy. In addition, I would like to see more citizen involvement in the budget process and am proposing the development of a citizen budget committee to help prioritize spending projects. We also need to critically evaluate the efficiency of our enterprise funds including the golf course to see if we are operating effectively and, if not, then we need to make changes. We need to address new growth and safety concerns; this includes the development of the Blue Ridge interchange to I-40, the need to diversify our local economy by partnering with higher education and medical facilities, and developing a strategy for infill development that promotes housing cost diversity and mixed use development. We need to address infrastructure problems like completing greenway and sidewalk projects along Montreat Road, the dredging of Lake Tomahawk, and the improvement of walking trails at both the lake and Brock Park. Perhaps most immediate is how do we address the needs to improve the Carver Center and what does our community want a renewed Carver Center to look like. We need to aggressively pursue economic development because businesses want to move to Black Mountain and existing small business want to expand. We need to develop guidelines that incorporate economic, historical, and mixed use development.

 

3. The only way to confront change is in an honest, open, and transparent manner. I strongly believe that it is the role of board members to facilitate an honest and frank exchange of the ideas with constituents before making any decision. It will be my goal as your representative to make sure that your voice is heard and that you know that we as community welcome your input and passion. Creating multilevel ownership of an issue is a path for achieving this, for example, the approach we have taken with regards to the Town Square project. Private individuals and business have donated their time and labor to help create a downtown space without the use of town tax dollars.

 

4. It is the responsibility of elected officials to work with each other regardless of ideological differences for the betterment of our communities. That is certainly something that I would pursue while I may have personal differences with actions taken by the General Assembly. Certainly, the General Assembly has pursued an agenda that has changed North Carolina. What concerns me with regards to local government is a new tax structure that shrinks all of government indiscriminate of service or effect and lowers funds returned to counties and municipalities. I have concerns over a legislature that fails to reward hard working state employees and teachers with even a cost of living adjustment when we have the 3rd highest unemployment rate in the nation and I worry about a body that refuses federal tax dollars on political ideology at the expense of citizens with regards to Medicaid expansion. I do however commend the legislature for its passage of a bill that allows officers to rescue dogs left in cars on hot days and their limiting of involuntary annexation.

 

5. I define the role of government at the local level as neighbors helping neighbors. You run at the local level because you care about a community and its people. I am interested in local government because I am committed to making sure that those that come after me enjoy a way of life that is safe, prosperous, and fulfilling.

 

6. It's a tie between John Mellencamp's Small Town and Eric Church's Carolina, both remind me of growing up in Black Mountain and the Swannanoa Valley and Eric Church is from North Carolina.

 

 

 

Weaverville Mayor

All candidates were given the same questions:

1. Why are you running?           

2. Please identify the issue in your community deserving immediate attention. How can it be addressed?           

3. Please cite examples of how the community will need to meet change during your term.           

4. How do you view the recent actions of the General Assembly and how do they affect your constituents?           

5. How do you define the role of government at the local level?           

6. Bonus Question:  What is your favorite song, and why?

 

Gene Knoefel

1. People should have a choice, and there is the need to assure Weaverville continues to be a community where people have a superior quality of life. I am confident my current experience as a Commissioner on the Council my management and negotiating skills gained from my work background in budgeting and finance, personnel administration, and legislative activity make me the best candidate for Mayor to lead Weaverville into the future.

 

2. Two major issues which I consider about equal. Specifically: 1. Renovating the Community Center at Lake Louise and then establishing a much needed program for seniors and developing the adjacent property into a park for children of all ages. This could be done without any increase to the tax rate by disposing of the Town’s excess property. 2. The need to increase our revenue so as to keep the tax rate down: Since the Legislature changed annexation authority municipalities are starting to struggle to increase their tax base, a matter of significance as costs increase. We need to stress and encourage economic development which can be achieved through tax incentives and ordinances that are not exceedingly onerous. We should become aggressive in our position on the Buncombe-Asheville Economic Development Commission to garner our fair share of industries deciding to move to or expand into Western North Carolina

 

3. I am of the opinion that if a municipality does not grow it will start to die. It is inevitable growth will occur.. you don’t try to stop it. You control it so there is good growth. Citizens need to be encouraged to become more involved in the issues facing the Town’s administrative staff and the Council. They need to attend and participate in meetings and workshops, all of which are announced on the Town’s website. This can assure good growth.

 

4. The actions of the General Assembly, in my opinion, have hampered municipalities. Instead of leaving local issues to local governments, they have tended to move things to Raleigh or abolish local authority altogether. For instance, the annexation authority for municipalities was curtailed severely to the point of only when a new development is in dire need of municipal services. Then, and only then, will developers and new businesses request voluntary annexation. Another example of taking away authority for our town is the attempt to abolish our zoning authority adjacent to our boundaries (in our extraterritorial jurisdiction).

 

5. Local government, municipalities and counties, should address the issues and provide the necessary services for its citizens to feel safe, secure, and prosper. The best government is one that goes unnoticed.

 

6. Bluegrass music, which is also the University of Tennessee fight song

 

 

Dottie Sherrill [No Response]

 

 

Weaverville Commisioner (Choose 2)

All candidates were given the same questions:

1. Why are you running?           

2. Please identify the issue in your community deserving immediate attention. How can it be addressed?           

3. Please cite examples of how the community will need to meet change during your term.           

4. How do you view the recent actions of the General Assembly and how do they affect your constituents?           

5. How do you define the role of government at the local level?           

6. Bonus Question:  What is your favorite song, and why?

Lou Accornero [No Response]

Doug Dearth  [No Response]

Doug Jackson [No Response]

 

 

Woodfin Aldermen (Choose 3)

All candidates were given the same questions:

1. Why are you running?           

2. Please identify the issue in your community deserving immediate attention. How can it be addressed?           

3. Please cite examples of how the community will need to meet change during your term.           

4. How do you view the recent actions of the General Assembly and how do they affect your constituents?           

5. How do you define the role of government at the local level?           

6. Bonus Question:  What is your favorite song, and why?

 

Andrea Boyer [No Response]

Jackie Bryson [No Response]

Debbie Giezentanner [No Response]

Don Hensley [No Response]

 

 

Canton Aldermen (Choose 4)

All candidates were given the same questions:

1. Why are you running?           

2. Please identify the issue in your community deserving immediate attention. How can it be addressed?           

3. Please cite examples of how the community will need to meet change during your term.           

4. How do you view the recent actions of the General Assembly and how do they affect your constituents?           

5. How do you define the role of government at the local level?           

6. Bonus Question:  What is your favorite song, and why?

 

Carole Edwards [No Response]

Ralph Hamlett

1. I decided the time was right for me to run for Alderman to make a difference for the town. I believe that I can bring insight and knowledge to the board as well as a cooperative sense for the common good of the town and community.

 

2. Issues facing Canton might be viewed from a micro or macro perspective. I see the challenges that face the new Board from a macro perspective. These broader challenges for Canton are 1) Attracting new businesses; and 2) revitalization of the downtown. These would serve as a two-prong initiative.

 

3. 1)Attracting new businesses and broadening the tax base. This would allow Canton to bring in new revenue without placing undue burdens on its citizens. To attract new business to the I-40 exits?particularly exit 31 (Champion Drive), Town Council would need to actively court potential businesses, to promote the town, people (local and area), and location. Existing town personnel would, of course, be charged with this task under the direction of the Town Manager, with the auspices of the Board which would bring intelligence, assist with research, lend talents, and also proactively lend a hand to seek new business opportunities. 2) Revitalization of downtown. This initiative would be a second prong of a strategy to increase the attractiveness of the traditional downtown district which would in turn add to an environment for specialty businesses in the downtown and the potential for big-box stores/chain stores outside the downtown. While more difficult, the board can seek to motivate owners to improve their properties and assist renters. The Board can establish a vision for the downtown that seeks renewal of its history and pride. 3) A subset of the revitalization of the downtown would be to take steps to ensure that the infrastructure of the downtown is maintained (As well as assets such as the Canton Recreation Park). This is consistent with meeting the agenda above. If necessary, infrastructure expansion should be approved for the benefits of new business opportunities. Funding for such projects should include creative approaches such as applications for grants and aid (actively seeking such opportunities).

 

4. The General Assembly has made some cuts to the operations of the state which they deem necessary. Whether appropriate or not, the average working constituent may suffer reductions in services. Local government is faced with the task of taking care of its citizen and helping to provide for their families and advocating for them where perhaps the General Assembly is unwilling to do so.

 

5. As part of the American Republic, local government serves to keep its people close to government. We can gauge the will of the people at the local level and communicate those desires to the state (and national, as well). We should work to communicate the interests of the people to other elected bodies as we accomplish their will at the local-level Ultimately, as a Board member I would strive to see that the people receive necessary benefits for the individual and the family.

 

6. My favorite song is "Carry on Wayward Son"--Kansas. The song suggests that the way may be tough, but, in the end with diligence, the person can find reassurance that he/she has done the best perhaps in the end advancing peace. [And my daughters (16 and 13)also like the song]

 

 

Gail Mull [No Response]

Phil Smathers [No Response]

 

Zeb Smathers

1. I am running for Alderman because I believe in Canton and that together we can build a community that can attract greater economic and recreational opportunities for our citizens.

 

2. The issue deserving immediate attention is the focused economic development of not just Canton?s downtown, but the Interstate 40, Clyde, and Asheville Highway corridors. The town must make a concentrated and renewed effort to attract and support businesses that provide good paying jobs. That is why I am advocating Canton has an employee who solely concentrates on attracting new businesses, promotes the town, and books events at our recreation facilities especially the Colonial Theater. It is also vital that the town expands our recreational opportunities specifically at Camp Hope, our athletic fields, and the pool. Encouraging the use of our great town facilities including the Colonial Theater and IP Sports Complex is vital to the long-term growth of Canton. Finally Canton must ensure that the town?s employees have the resources and training necessary to provide for the town?s services, public safety, and growing needs. The town finds itself at many crossroads and we must commit to providing the town?s employees with opportunities that will match their hard work.

 

3. To meet change I first ask for the advice and prayers of Canton's citizens and that they commit themselves to becoming involved. Second I ask that the community invests in Canton by shopping local, attending events, and encouraging our leaders to tackle major projects.

 

4. In my opinion, the recent actions of the North Carolina General Assembly will have a dramatic negative effect on Canton's ability to seek grants and funding for major projects whether it be infrastructure improvements, recreational additions, or economic development.

 

5. I define the role of government at the local level to be directly responsive to the vast needs of the town from maintaining water lines to ensuring public safety. I also believe the role of government is to seek public and private partnerships to increase economic and recreation opportunities.

 

6. "Song of the South" by Alabama. For me the song signifies perseverance and a dedication to one's family and community.

 

 

Roy Taylor [No Response]

 

 

Hendersonville Mayor

All candidates were given the same questions:

1. Why are you running?           

2. Please identify the issue in your community deserving immediate attention. How can it be addressed?           

3. Please cite examples of how the community will need to meet change during your term.           

4. How do you view the recent actions of the General Assembly and how do they affect your constituents?           

5. How do you define the role of government at the local level?           

6. Bonus Question:  What is your favorite song, and why?

 

 

Ron Stephens [No Response]

Barbara Volk

1. I’m running again because I love Hendersonville and want to continue to have a positive influence on how it grows. I have received strong support from the community and want to lead future development that benefits all our citizens.

 

2. As mayor I can tell you that there is not just one issue. You have to keep all the plates spinning, especially in managing growth that is taking place in Hendersonville.

 

3. Hendersonville will continue to respond to change and growth. We have to maintain the quaintness and charm of our downtown for our current population but blend it with the hip and cool, such as our outdoor dining, for those we want to attract. We need to expand our use of electronic media for communication and promotion with an increasingly connected world. We can encourage developers to submit viable plans for convenient urban living.

 

4. The General Assembly listened to the concerns of the state’s cities and passed a budget that protects the city revenue stream. This allows us to maintain the current tax rate we have had during my tenure as mayor.

 

5. The role of municipal government is to provide urban services for their residents at the lowest cost possible and remove barriers to fair commerce for businesses.

 

6. “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by J.S. Bach. It was the first piece of great classical church music I learned to play really well during my organ studies, which I started when I was 13 years old.

 

 

Hendersonville City Council (Choose 2)

All candidates were given the same questions:

1. Why are you running?           

2. Please identify the issue in your community deserving immediate attention. How can it be addressed?           

3. Please cite examples of how the community will need to meet change during your term.           

4. How do you view the recent actions of the General Assembly and how do they affect your constituents?           

5. How do you define the role of government at the local level?           

6. Bonus Question:  What is your favorite song, and why?

 

Jeff Miller

1. I believe I have an opportunity to play a role in shaping a positive future for the city of Hendersonville. Local government is the place where a person can go in and actually make a difference right out of the gate. I look forward to working with the other elected officials and city staff to keep Hendersonville one of the top places in the country to live.

 

2. Spending and debt. We have over $12,000,000 in debt that we are looking at right now. That does not include the debt from the new water meter project. If the voters pass the bond referendum to proceed with the work on the Berkley Park, that will add another $6,000,000 in debt. That is $18,000,000! This to me is very serious and down right dangerous for a small city like Hendersonville. We must manage our spending and reduce debt while still delivering services to the tax payers. The Water and Sewer Department has done some things in the past that I believe where and are very unreasonable. I would like to provide some real oversight here with an emphasis on providing the best service at a fair price with an eye on the future. We will need to help many residents and businesses come on line for water and sewer connections in years to come so we need to address increasing our capacity at the water treatment facility. This should be a county wide effort as we go forward.

 

3. I think this should be more about local government changing to meet needs during the coming years. The city has done some remarkable things to make this a great place to live, they have also taken their eye off the ball a few times. Elected officials need to ask tough questions and demand real life examples showing the impact of proposed changes in fees and costs of services. I believe if we do a good job at this and maintain a true transparency of government we will be fine. The real burden will be on the elected officials and staff.

 

4. I would prefer not to get into state and federal politics, I've done that before and I didn't like it then. One place where new state law gives us a unique opportunity is with the new Voter ID requirement. I do see this as an an opportunity and an obligation to help anyone in the city get an official ID so they can vote in 2016. We have over three years to get this done so there is no reason we cannot accomplish this with time to spare.

 

5. In reading an article written by Mark Funkhouse about "The Real Role of Cities", Funkhouse shared some views of James Keene, the city manager of Palo Alto, Calif. Funkhouse points out correctly that over the last 100 years government has been looked upon primarily as a delivery mechanism for services. Keene sees a much deeper purpose of government, specifically at the local level, "with a different perspective: as a way to establish and maintain agreements on how we are to live together.". Keene also points out that local government is the closest, most intimate form of government. We must find a way to deliver the services needed in an effective and efficient way. At the same time we must work to reach needed agreement in order to all live together. Local government also gives us an opportunity to rebuild trust towards politics and politicians.

 

6. Hotel California Because it's The Eagles.

 

 

Jerry Smith

1. I am a current member of City Council and I enjoy helping Hendesonville residents with everyday problems that can be addressed by the City of Hendesonville staff and employees. I represent all residents of the city, in particular those who are working full-time, raising a family and caring for older parents/relatives. I am running for re-election because I want to continue working with city residents as well as county water/sewer customers to provide the best services and infrastructure that can be provided by a city of our size.

 

2. Protecting our water/sewer system from takeover by the General Assembly is of upmost importance to our community. This past legislative session the General Assembly tookover the water system for the City of Asheville. Our state legislators have not stated publicly that they will not add ours to this regional water authority. If we are added, our water and sewer rates will go up significantly and we will no longer have control of our system. I will continue to fight to keep the City of Hendersonville in control of our water/sewer system.

 

3. 1) If we pass the Berkeley Bond referendum, there will be a 5-7% increase in property taxes to fund the bond and construction at Berkeley. If we do not pass the bond, then improvements at Berkeley, if any, will take many years longer to complete and will continue to delay the construction of a greenway at Berkeley for residents to enjoy. 2) If the General Assembly takes over control of our water/sewer system, all water/sewer customers, both city residents and county residents, will have to pay higher rates. 3) We will have to make some changes to how we park downtown. What the solution(s) will be is still an item for discussion but may include more patrols to catch those who unfairly take up spaces designed for downtown patrons, better signage, creating additional lots and/or looking into a publicly/privately funded parking deck.

 

4. I have mentioned the potential impact to residents' water/sewer rates above, if the General Assembly decides to take over the City of Hendersonville's water/sewer system as was done to the City of Asheville this past session. The General Assembly has also taken away local control of the Charlotte airport from the City of Charlotte. This signals a philosophy on the part of the General Aseembly to take away local control of local utilites/services from elected officials and give that control to unelected boards that can by manipulated by the General Assembly. This is a dangerous trend for municipalities in North Carolina as well as their residents.

 

5. Government at the local level is best able to meet the everyday needs of residents in the communities where they live and work. Most problems can be addressed by a phone call/e-mail to a city elected official or to the city manager or department heads. Local government's job is to provide the infrastructure and services needed to allow businesses to grow and neighborhoods to flourish, without exerting unnecessary control over the products/services produced and sold, as well as the style of living residents choose to follow. Local government should strive to create a hometown spirit among residents that makes people feel that the place they call home is safe, caring, stimulating and welcoming.

 

6. "Your Love is King" by Sade. This was the song my wife and I danced to during our first dance at our wedding reception.

 


Diane Caldwell

1. I am running for City Council because I believe that the general public needs to be represented with a stronger voice in City Government. And while I know that local elected officials have to pay a great deal of attention to budgets, infrastructure, taxes, water/sewer rates and many other things, I also believe we need to pay more attention to the needs of our residents and businesses.

 

2. I believe the most immediate thing would be to take a look at the budget and expenses to see where we might be able to cut back on the tax rate for residents and businesses. I think this cut should last until the economy takes a true turn for the better and then taxes should be increased as necessary. The fall of the economy hit hard. So many people lost their investment and retirement funds, their jobs, and their homes, I think it’s only fair to offer something as encouragement to let them know that they are cared about in their time of crisis and that local government see their conditions and have compassion for what they are going through.

 

3. I think the community needs not only to meet change, but be a strong part of the change. They should be a part of the decision making process of changes that need to be made, and a part of the implementation of the changes. We are all stakeholders; everybody is important, and everybody opinion matters. Everybody has something (those who are interested) to bring to the table, and it deserves to be heard, and seriously considered.

 

4. There are several issues the General Assembly has or is planning to enact. I think the most major one is Affordable health care. I attended a meeting a few days ago to try to get a more clear understanding about what is really going on. It appears, at the grassroots level at least, that no one really understands what is going on. Why would a person be asked to sign up for health care and not know what their premiums are going to be? Why is it that in NC only Blue Cross/Blue Shield the only insurance carrier that health care coverage at this point can be purchased from? I think the messages concerning health coverage is too vague at this point to really make an informed decision, and I think it is scary to our elderly, and those who really can’t afford it, or can barely afford it. At least 75% of all the people in this country will be affected by this and not necessarily in a positive way, at least not the way it’s being presented. More information is definitely needed. Also, as I understand it, more cuts will be made in 2018.

 

5. I firmly believe that anything major that affects our people either positive or negative, local government should be affected by it, and be involved in it. I realize that laws prohibit some actions on our part, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that we can’t have a voice. Our voice should always be heard, every effort should always be made to “STAND” for what is right and, or best for our residents, our businesses. Local government should not stop with infrastructure and services only, but working with the community, seeking to make the city a better place – always.

 

6. Oh Lord How Excellent is Your Name, why, because I believe God is excellent, and everything about Him is excellent; who He is, as well as what He does.

 

 

Jeff Collis

1. I have served on Hendersonville City Council since November of 2005. It is through the encouragement of my supporters that I am seeking office for a third term. My goal is to continue to apply a common sense approach to the legislative body of Hendersonville.

 

2. Hendersonville is in sound financial shape and it is my goal to continue the fiscal policies that I have supported the last 8 years. We weathered the worst economic crisis since the great depression and came out not only in great shape, but with an increased credit rating for the City.

 

3. We are experiencing an increase in development within the City. I believe we are beginning a new era of growth. I served as Chairman of our 2030 Comprehensive Plan team and look forward to implementing many of the wishes of the community in this document. It will take the type of experienced leadership I have to help guide us through this new era.

 

4. I disagree with some of the privatizing of municipal services. We have worked very hard to ensure the City of Hendersonville Water resources remain under the control of the citizens that built the system in 1919. We do realize the City of Hendersonville is allowed to function by state charter, so we remain vigilant of issues in Raleigh that could positively or negatively affect our community.

 

5. Although we are the lowest level of Government, I do believe we have as much or in some cases an even greater impact on day to day lives of the people in the community. The role I enjoy most serving is we are face to face everyday with the people we serve. Citizens are able to call us, meet with us, and speak to us out in the community about the issues that are important to them. It is much easier to work together and represent folks at the local level.

 

6. Nessun Dorma...Aretha Franklin filled in with 20 min notice for Luciano Pavarotti at a music awards show. I love the range of her voice. Don Williams---Anything!

 

 

Fletcher Mayor

All candidates were given the same questions:

1. Why are you running?           

2. Please identify the issue in your community deserving immediate attention. How can it be addressed?           

3. Please cite examples of how the community will need to meet change during your term.           

4. How do you view the recent actions of the General Assembly and how do they affect your constituents?           

5. How do you define the role of government at the local level?           

6. Bonus Question:  What is your favorite song, and why?

 

Dennis Justice

1. "The raid of Todd Stimson's home was the determining factor in my decision to run for Mayor of Fletcher.  I strongly opposed the unnecessary use of force to arrest Mr. Stimson (who had a medical marijuana dispensary), and felt somebody had to have the courage to speak for his rights.

 

I believe that since the State of North Carolina used an unconstitutional ""stamp tax"" to collect funds to give to local law enforcement, they violated his Fifth Amendment rights.  Our Mayor, who has served for about 10 years, knew of Mr. Stimson's operations for over two years, as Mr. Stimson was very public about his operations.  The current Mayor an obligation to know the case history of the illegal stamp tax, and how similar cases were thrown out nationally, yet either authorized or allowed the excessive raid to happen.  Now Mr. Stimson's family could be destroyed if we fail to stand up for him.  It has been reported guns were pointed at his daughters in the raid, despite clear evidence there was no arsenal in the home.

 

If we do not stand up for municipal sovereignty and defend the constitutional rights for all citizens of Fletcher, we have no real rights.  85% of Americans polled support some version of legal medical cannabis.  That alone tells me the case will be thrown out, as no jury in Henderson County will convict Mr. Stimson. That's before discussing the problems with the case itself.  So why are taxpayers being told to pay for this case?

 

The correct resolution should have been a confiscation raid with 3-4 police officers, not 50, with a standard search warrant.  Close the business, but do not charge Mr. Stimson.  That would have ended the issue.  The Mayor is not a ""rookie"" to politics, he had an obligation to learn the truth over these two years, to seek a more rational solution inside our municipal limits.

 

The Town of Fletcher is now in a position of liability when Mr. Stimson is eventually exonerated, something that could have been avoided had there not been ""overdelegation.""  The unwillingness of the current Mayor to speak to defend the rights of a citizen in need should tell the voters of Fletcher that they need a new Mayor.  "

 

2. The Town of Fletcher acquired 93 acres of land from ArvinMeritor in exchange for not being annexed for seven years.  The Mayor has had years to develop that land and has failed to do so.  How much tax revenue did we lose because of that deal?

 

I believe the land needs to be developed.  Fletcher has been incorporated since 1989 yet we have no true recreation center.  I advocate a concrete dome venue that could host a variety of town activities as well as be a regional disaster shelter.

 

The parkland also could potentially be used to develop a multi-sport stadium. I have already talked with people in the Coastal Plains League, a very successful college summer wood-bat baseball league, since they almost came to Hendersonville six years ago.  I believe a venue similar to the modest one in Forest City would be a huge benefit for Fletcher if planned right.  Forest City is nearly the same size as Fletcher yet draw 1,900 a game.  With correct infrastructure, such a stadium could have year-round economic impact for Fletcher.

 

When I take office, I will immediately put signs on the property saying "Coming soon:  Parrish Park" after our first Mayor, and push for a full feasibility study to see what can be done on the land.

 

3. The Town of Fletcher acquired 93 acres of land from ArvinMeritor in exchange for not being annexed for seven years.  The Mayor has had years to develop that land and has failed to do so.  How much tax revenue did we lose because of that deal?

 

I believe the land needs to be developed.  Fletcher has been incorporated since 1989 yet we have no true recreation center.  I advocate a concrete dome venue that could host a variety of town activities as well as be a regional disaster shelter.

 

The parkland also could potentially be used to develop a multi-sport stadium. I have already talked with people in the Coastal Plains League, a very successful college summer wood-bat baseball league, since they almost came to Hendersonville six years ago.  I believe a venue similar to the modest one in Forest City would be a huge benefit for Fletcher if planned right.  Forest City is half our size yet draw 1,900 a game.  With correct infrastructure, such a stadium could have year-round economic impact for Fletcher.

 

When I take office, I will immediately put signs on the property saying "Coming soon:  Parrish Park" after our first Mayor, and push for a full feasibility study to see what can be done on the land.

 

4. The State "leadership," both parties included, voted without any real dissent to give Charlotte a taxing authority to give a football billionaire $87.5 million for a stadium renovation.  Asheville has been seeking the same tax authority for years for an arts center to no avail.

Any tax that is good enough for Charlotte should be good enough for every local government in North Carolina.  I will call on the Mayors of Asheville and Hendersonville to join me in an effort to seek to raise the room tax together for projects our citizens care about.  The room tax rates in these towns are far lower than Charlotte and therefore will still be competitive.

This way we can develop "Parrish Park," Asheville can finally get their arts center, and Hendersonville can upgrade their parks. 

I support pro-active regionalism when all sides benefit and all sides want to work together.  I strongly oppose the State's seizure of Asheville's water system and their attempted takeover of Charlotte's airport.  Forced regionalism does not lower prices nor provide accountability as the representatives are not directly elected by the people.  It violates the very principal of "municipal sovereignty."

 

5. The Tenth Amendment was intended to provide a balance between state and local governments as well as a balance between the states and national government. 

I feel a Mayor is at least the equal of a State Represenative or State Senator.  The Mayor is the one who is the first responder in a major disaster. I have noted that the current emergency management plan, while not wrong outright, has not been updated in eight years and should be updated.

We should establish our own identity based on what the people of Fletcher want, and not play "Mother May I?" with Raleigh.

 

6. "You'll Never Walk Alone."  It is sung by the fans of Liverpool FC, my favorite soccer team. 

People of Fletcher, you are not alone.  Be a "85%er" and stand with Mr. Stimson on November 5.  Vote for Justice!

 

Bill Moore  [No Response]

 

More Articles