Occupation: small-business owner
Party affiliation: Democrat
Political experience: six years as a councilwoman and four years as mayor
Endorsements: Sierra Club and Asheville Firefighters Association
1) How much money have you raised for your campaign? Who are your top three donors, and how much has each contributed?
Top three: Antonio Fraga, $4,000; Craig Madison, $1,600; John Cram, $1,000
2) Do you favor district elections for Council members? Why or why not?
I favor retaining our present election process. As the votes cast by each Council member affect all the citizens of the city of Asheville, it is only fitting that each Council member should be held accountable, at the polls, by all of those same citizens.
3) What steps, if any, should the city take to deal with graffiti?
The city should continue with the efforts that were approved in August — violators to be brought before the nuisance court (to start in the third quarter) and an aggressive removal program using a local-based group.
4) Do you support the implementation of domestic-partner benefits for city employees? Why or why not?
The city currently exceeds the Federal Family Leave Act requirements by offering Family Leave to employees, which can be used for any family member (including domestic partners). Additionally, the city adheres to the state's law on medical insurance offerings for employees.
5) Given the city's current and likely upcoming budget shortfalls, how would you make ends meet?
Currently, the city does not have a budget shortfall, but if it did, I would advocate mid-year reductions in the 2009-10 budget cycle. I would support targeting service hours of operations, capital expenditures, funding to outside agencies and special events. I would also continue to seek funding from state and federal sources.
6) Which key elements of the Downtown Master Plan, if any, do you want to see implemented in the next year?
The most far-reaching element in the Downtown Master Plan is proposed changes to the Unified Development Ordinance. I recently supported the UDO amendments being brought back before Council during this calendar year.
7) What measures, if any, do you support to promote bicycle and mass transit?
I support implementation of the bicycle Master Plan and approval and implementation of the Transit Master Plan. Advancing these two measures will continue moving Asheville towards a greener and more sustainable future.
8) How much of a role, compared to its current one, should the city play in putting on festivals?
The city should maintain its limited role in encouraging and facilitating our various festivals.
9) Which sitting member of City Council are you most like politically, and which do you differ the most with?
I am most politically like Mayor Terry Bellamy. The second part of your question does not really apply to the inclusive, consensus building process I practice. I view every Council member as a potential ally in my constant efforts to make Asheville a more livable and prosperous city for all.
10) What should Asheville's policy be regarding forced annexation of surrounding areas?
The North Carolina state statutes that created the process supersede Asheville's annexation authority. We are bound by law to adhere to that policy.