Election 2012: ‘Tis the season

Raising the roof: “It’s never a good bet to bet against the American people,” Vice President Joe Biden declared at the Oct. 2 rally held at UNCA’s Justice Center (from a Twitter dispatch by the university newspaper The Blue Banner). Photo by Caitlin Byrd.

It’s election season — falling leaves, cool nights, and a host of voter forums, candidate photo ops, debate-watching parties and a near-last-minute visit by Vice President Joe Biden.

October opened with the second of four forums hosted by the local League of Women Voters. On a particularly dreary, drizzly Oct. 1, the league gave District 1, Buncombe County Board of Commissioner, candidates a chance to meet voters and stake their positions. Republican Don Guge and Democrats Holly Jones and Brownie Newman seemed to agree more than they disagreed, voicing support for such efforts as fighting childhood obesity, spurring economic development in the county and looking at possible ways for Asheville and Buncombe to cooperate or combine resources.

They drew sharper lines on greenways and a nondiscrimination policy that would have added sexual orientation and gender identity to the county personnel policy. The latter was pushed by the incumbent, Jones, but failed to get the votes from the current board earlier this year. Jones noted her continued support for the policy change, as did Newman. But Guge — a Woodfin detective — remarked, “I am against discrimination. … but when are we going to stop creating these lists?”

As for greenways, Newman — a former Asheville City Council member and vice president of solar company FLS Energy — called himself a “big fan,” Jones clarified that while the county has approved a master plan, it has not set aside or created a funding mechanism for greenways, and Guge said he was “all for” them but says the money can be better spent on such pressing issues as helping the homeless.

Further, Guge and Jones said that using eminent domain to acquire land for greenways wasn’t an option; but Newman fine-tuned his point, noting that while he would seek public donations and support, the approach is a legal option for acquiring property for public purposes.

There’s more, but for the full story from Contributing Editor Nelda Holder, go to http://avl.mx/lc or mountainx.com/election.

The next day, Biden descended on Asheville. His sixth trip to North Carolina this election season, he fired up both sides of the aisle by remarking that the middle class has been “buried” in recent years. For more photos of the event, go to Mountain Xpress Reporter Caitlin Byrd’s report at http://avl.mx/ld.

On Wednesday, the campaign train churned on: 11th Congressional District candidate Hayden Rogers toured the local Thermo Fisher Scientific plant, and both Republicans and Democrats hosted watch-the-Romney-Obama debate parties.

There seemed to be little local buzz, however, on the debate between North Carolina gubernatorial candidates Pat McCrory and Walter Dalton, broadcast earlier the same night. The Charlotte Observer headline read, “Dalton, McCrory Trade Snarls in First Debate.” For the full report, go to charlotteobserver.com.

Stay tuned: Early voting begins Oct. 17, and the league hosts another forum Monday, Oct. 15 (see “Campaign Calendar”).

News Editor Margaret Williams can be reached at 251-1333, ext. 152, or at mvwilliams@mountainx.com. Send your election udpates to news@mountainx.com or Contributing Editor Nelda Holder at nholder@mountainx.com.

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About Margaret Williams
Managing Editor Margaret Williams has been at Xpress since 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987.

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