Residence: Town Mountain
Years in Asheville: Most of my life
Education: M.A. in education (Western Carolina University), M.S.W. (University of Georgia), Ph.D. in psychology (Union Institute)
Political party: Republican
Political experience: Four years on City Council, two as vice mayor
1. Should the city or a regional authority own the water system?
“Almost every city in N.C. manages its own water system and, excepting power politics and moneyed interests, there is little to support Asheville as an exception. A lack of fairness comes into play, as Asheville residents pay double the taxes and yet are required to significantly subsidize county water users.”
2. Do you agree with the decision to hold closed meetings concerning the Water Agreement, such as last April’s city/county mediation session?
“No — I refused to participate in negotiations that were closed, deliberately excluding the public, and orchestrated by an unprecedented intrusion on local-government affairs by our state representatives. The only authentic water negotiations were conducted between our state legislators, the county [Board of Commissioners] and their advisers.”
3. Is the Asheville Police Department’s current citizen-complaint process adequate?
“No. We have room for improvement, but I have worked for two years to successfully press for clearer forms, a more timely review process and better follow-through. Legal constraints, manipulations by criminals, governmental bureaucracy, a thin staff and constraints of N.C. personnel laws create complexities for the citizen-complaint process.”
4. Would you ever support using eminent domain other than for public-works projects? Under what circumstances?
“No. I believe that we intrude on private-property rights to our own peril. Robbing Peter to pay Paul may make a friend out of Paul, but it alienates Peter and further divides the community for shortsighted gain.”
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?
“City staff has been instructed, as a matter of clear policy, to persistently enforce our ordinances. Contrary to some information outlets, there is no dramatic pattern of developer violations in Asheville. When these occur, there should be consistent, significant and mandated consequences.”
6. What, specifically, would you recommend doing with the Asheville Civic Center?
“Civic Center advocates persist in developing fantasy plans and possibilities that, I believe, exceed our financial capacities as a city of 75,000. The realities and dollars seem to point, as of today, to fixing what we have. A community gathering place matters, but it is certainly not our biggest issue.”
7. Name one thing the current City Council should be proud of, and one thing it should be ashamed of.
“Proud — refusing to back down to legislators, the county [Board of Commissioners], moneyed interests, the media and others who have pressured us to surrender Asheville’s water resources for pennies on the dollar. Ashamed — allowing drug dealers/users and thugs to utilize public housing and poorer neighborhoods as a playground.”
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?
“I will not cave to personal preferences or political pressures on lane configurations — whether from DOT or community activists. The data from multiple DOT studies/analyses is conflicted and does not illuminate a clear best choice. I will continue to advocate for clarity, timely forward movement and fact-based decisions.”
9. Name one positive trend downtown, and one negative trend.
“Positive: exciting new and restored buildings that will propel us into the 21st century. Negative: an embedded drug culture.”
10. What can Asheville do to cope with high energy prices and projected energy shortages in the coming years?
“For individual citizens — look to your personal impact and responsibility. For city leadership — be open to transportation alternatives but maintain a realistic view of public preferences, topographical considerations and resource limitations. Buses are our single best public-transportation-alternative investment and merit support.”
11. Would you support increasing the local hotel/motel room tax? Why or why not?
“I do not see circumstances in view under which I would support any form of tax increase for any citizen or business in Asheville. In any case, a local hotel/motel tax would have to be passed at the state versus [the] local level.”
12. What political figure from the past or present do you most wish to emulate?
“Tossup between Ben Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt. Mr. Franklin was wise, creative, dynamic and didn’t treat the absurdities of life too seriously. Mr. Roosevelt was courageous, curious, enthusiastic and held strong compassion for the disadvantaged. I borrow from both of these gentlemen in my persisting efforts to improve myself.”