Residence: Central Asheville
Occupation: Public relations/community development director, WLFA 91.3
Years in Asheville: 29 (most recently since 2000)
Education: B.S. in business administration/management (Shaw University), some graduate courses (WCU)
Political party: Democrat
Political experience: Vice chair, Planning & Zoning Commission; lobbied state legislators re education/retraining funding; vice president, N.C. Women Work
1. Should the city or a regional authority own the water system?
“The city. … [Asheville] must operate as a responsible business, and businesses do not give away their assets. Though not the only reason to keep control, annexation is something that we must look at on a case-by-case basis, and maintaining the water system would be an attractive marketing concept.”
2. Do you agree with the decision to hold closed meetings concerning the Water Agreement, such as last April’s city/county mediation session?
“The decision to hold closed meetings with any issue is based upon the subject and who is affected. Because the Water Agreement outcome has a direct impact on the taxpayers, and the officials are all elected by the people … [it] should have been an open meeting, without public comment.”
3. Is the Asheville Police Department’s current citizen-complaint process adequate?
“The current … process is not working, but there are many aspects involved. … To be effective, it must be a partnership. A sensitivity training involving the force in combination with the community would be a great benefit. … We must also look at salary increases [for] officers.”
4. Would you ever support using eminent domain other than for public-works projects? Under what circumstances?
“I will never support taking private property for corporate use based on higher bottom line. … [Planning should] include the [property] owner. … If property has been condemned and the owner has blatantly ignored city ordinances regarding upkeep, we would need to step in for the good of the whole.”
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?
“We need to look at where the breakdown is happening. … Some changes [in plans are] innocent errors by workers. [For] intentional [changes], fines are in order, but it must be clear which is which and proceed from there. Neighborhood committees, zoning officers and developers must work together to completion.”
6. What, specifically, would you recommend doing with the Asheville Civic Center?
“[In my experience, it's] more economical to build a building from the ground up, especially [given] the age of the Civic Center. I would advocate building a cutting-edge facility, same location … with contractors who … guarantee a timely project. Then … implement a marketing team … to produce revenue.”
7. Name one thing the current City Council should be proud of, and one thing it should be ashamed of.
“They should be proud of hiring a new city manager with a diverse background. … But the … aftermath of the 2004 flood which produced a questionable Stormwater Enterprise Fund, and the lack of action with the Water Agreement is costing … the taxpayers.”
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?
“Being skilled in presenting proposals, DOT must be presented with a plan that will show them benefiting from six lanes versus eight. The plan must give vision regarding how the department would benefit short term and long term. We must show how everyone would win … with less lanes.”
9. Name one positive trend downtown, and one negative trend.
“Positive trend: the local businesses … (though I would like to see more minority owners). [Negative trend]: the parking structures being developed, though … parking is needed for businesses. … [Most] spaces during the day are [used by] employees. Utilizing lots like Westgate and providing shuttles would be a start.”
10. What can Asheville do to cope with high energy prices and projected energy shortages in the coming years?
“We must look at everything from fleet management to car-pooling incentives to public transportation. Implement tools to make the system more attractive for those who see it as an inconvenience. We must market the system as a way for all to network and meet new people [while] still meeting schedules.”
11. Would you support increasing the local hotel/motel room tax? Why or why not?
“Increasing [it] would assist with needed infrastructure improvements. We want tourists to enjoy our beautiful mountains … but we as leaders must understand the impact on our streets and other amenities. It is a good business decision to collect revenue due to wear and tear, and [reinvest in] our assets.”
12. What political figure from the past or present do you most wish to emulate?
“Deborah, a governing judge from biblical times. Though everything about the times and the culture was against Deborah serving as the leader … she did. Though her army was vastly outnumbered, they won. … Deborah was courageous, faithful, yet humble. She was skilled and effective in her leadership abilities.”