Residence: Montford Hills
Occupation: Executive director, YWCA of Asheville
Years in Asheville: 9
Education: B.A. in public-policy analysis (UNC-Chapel Hill), master’s in divinity (Duke University), master’s in public health (Chapel Hill)
Political party: Democrat
Political experience: Four years on City Council, community-based organizing for housing, children and health care
1. Should the city or a regional authority own the water system?
“The water system’s ownership is not in dispute; the city owns it. In terms of operations, I am interested in an operating entity which provides equitable water rates for Asheville citizens, begins significant capital-infrastructure improvements and supports sustainable development. The last regional authority model did none of these.”
2. Do you agree with the decision to hold closed meetings concerning the Water Agreement, such as last April’s city/county mediation session?
“Any closed session should be limited to the legal requirements under North Carolina law. I supported the mediation being in closed session because of the numerous legal implications involved. Following that effort, I was very supportive and insistent on open, joint sessions with the commissioners to discuss the Water Agreement.”
3. Is the Asheville Police Department’s current citizen-complaint process adequate?
“If followed appropriately, I believe the current process is adequate. The key to openness in the Police Department is the chief’s leadership. My experience with Chief Hogan has been that he takes community responsiveness very seriously, demands excellent customer service and is open to citizen suggestions.”
4. Would you ever support using eminent domain other than for public-works projects? Under what circumstances?
“In general, I am not supportive of eminent domain being used for private property. However, I have recently heard of scenarios that … are being played out in flood-contaminated properties in the Gulf. Under these extreme circumstances, there may be public-health reasons to implement eminent domain.”
5. City staff have documented several recent cases of developers violating the Unified Development Ordinance or conditions of their permits, but no fines have been issued. Should these rules be more strictly enforced?
“Absolutely. I have pushed for this on Council (ex. Campus Crest clear-cutting), but enforcement is still too slack. We need a majority of the members on Council to make enforcement of our ordinances and following through with the commitments we make to the community a priority.”
6. What, specifically, would you recommend doing with the Asheville Civic Center?
“Economic quality-of-life issues remain my first priorities. Given the significant need to improve our water infrastructure, public transportation and work-force housing, I am most interested in Civic Center solutions which involve broad partnerships for funding (private citizens, county commissioners, state legislators).”
7. Name one thing the current City Council should be proud of, and one thing it should be ashamed of.
“Proud: Hiring new city manager, Gary Jackson. Ashamed: Not holding developers more accountable (ex. Wal-Mart, Campus Crest clear-cutting).”
8. An N.C. DOT study indicates that six lanes can accommodate the projected traffic on the I-26 connector. What, if anything, would you do to prevent the DOT from building an eight-lane connector?
“Continue to make the case, which is strengthened by the new travel model and CORSIM analysis, that six lanes will meet Asheville’s future needs, and expedite the construction process. I believe City Council should take an official position supporting a six-lane alignment, thus helping to resolve the issue.”
9. Name one positive trend downtown, and one negative trend.
“Positive: Renovation of Pack Square park. Negative: Current design of an oversized, overly priced parking deck next to Battery Park Apartments and across from St. Lawrence Basilica.”
10. What can Asheville do to cope with high energy prices and projected energy shortages in the coming years?
“Improve the availability of our transit system with extended hours and more frequent routes. Furthermore, our development patterns need to reflect a transit- and pedestrian-oriented approach. Operationally, we need to accelerate converting our city fleet to more energy-efficient [vehicles].”
11. Would you support increasing the local hotel/motel room tax? Why or why not?
“Yes. Asheville taxpayers deserve the additional revenue source that other N.C. tourist towns benefit from to support a growing community’s needs. Locally we know that increased hotel rates have not negatively impacted occupancy rates. A visitor coming to Asheville does not determine their travel plans [based] on an additional $1.50/night.”
12. What political figure from the past or present do you most wish to emulate?
“U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Martin Sheen’s President Jeb Bartlett on West Wing.”