Chris Pelly

Chris Pelly

Age: 48
Residence: Haw Creek
Occupation: Real-estate broker
Years in Asheville: 15
Education: Arizona State University
Political party: Democrat
Political experience: Ran for City Council 2003; president, Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods 2004 to present; president, Haw Creek Community Association, 1995 to 2004

1. Should the city or a regional authority own the water system?

“City-owned. City ownership provides an opportunity for a rate structure for city and county residents that can encourage conservation and can provide a low-cost, minimal level of service for low- and moderate-income 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. My personal belief is that the Water Agreement negotiations, because they affect so many, should have had a significant element of public participation.”

3. Is the Asheville Police Department’s current citizen-complaint process adequate?

“The current Police Advisory Board does not have the authority to conduct truly independent internal reviews. For accountability purposes, an independent citizens’ board of review would do much to respond to public concerns when questionable actions occur.”

4. Would you ever support using eminent domain other than for public-works projects? Under what circumstances?

“No.”

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?

“As president of the Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods, lack of enforcement of the UDO is the most frequently voiced complaint I hear. The culture of enforcement is such that violators routinely ignore UDO regulations and are rarely, if ever, fined for their actions. We must enforce our existing development standards.”

6. What, specifically, would you recommend doing with the Asheville Civic Center?

“Significant renovation. Consensus does not appear to exist for any other option. I would first seek to achieve buy-in from those who stand to benefit from improvements — county government, private development, the arts community and Asheville city — and then approach our state delegation to complete the funding package.”

7. Name one thing the current City Council should be proud of, and one thing it should be ashamed of.

“We should all be proud of our well-run Parks and Recreation Department and the recent renewal of the Tourists’ lease at McCormick Field for another 10 years. The Water Agreement-renewal negotiations … [have harmed] relations between the city and county and [between] the city and the state delegation.”

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?

“Reach out to our partner communities with representatives on the Transportation Advisory Committee, which must vote on six or eight lanes, to appeal to them to support us.”

9. Name one positive trend downtown, and one negative trend.

“I am excited about the Pack Square improvements now under way. I am also thrilled about the several residential projects either planned or already under construction in our downtown area. I believe, however, we must make a more conscious effort to include housing options for all income levels in downtown.”

10. What can Asheville do to cope with high energy prices and projected energy shortages in the coming years?

“There is no quick and easy solution but rather a series of incremental actions. … They include expansion of mass-transit options … (longer hours of service, unlimited-access options and more routes); conversion of city vehicles to electric; expansion of walking and biking options, with more sidewalks and greenways.”

11. Would you support increasing the local hotel/motel room tax? Why or why not?

“I would support a modest increase if it were dedicated to improving the Civic Center. When traveling, I do not resent other cities imposing a hotel/motel room tax if it is paying for facilities used by visitors and residents.”

12. What political figure from the past or present do you most wish to emulate?

“Terry Sanford for leading North Carolina with a progressive vision during a time of great social change. He [supported] racial equality, [made] public education more accessible [and] stimulated economic growth with … Research Triangle Park. Paul Wellstone … for his passion for equality and leadership on peace-and-justice issues.”

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