Turns out Asheville Vice Mayor Brownie Newman isn’t bowing out of local politics. While the two-term Asheville City Council member’s last official day in office is tomorrow, he has his sights set on a seat on the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, and announced a run this afternoon.
“As a member of Asheville City Council, I tried to set ambitious, achievable goals for our community. I am proud that we have established Asheville as a leader for energy independence and green jobs, promoted the growth of locally owned businesses and made it clear that we are an inclusive community that supports equal rights for all our citizens,” says Newman in his announcement. He lists his efforts on clean energy, job creation and the creation of a domestic partnership registry in the announcement.
Under a switch to district elections for the board of commissioners forced by the state legislature, Newman will run for one of two seats in a 114th District comprising most of the city of Asheville. In the announcement, he claims that longtime Commissioner Bill Stanley isn’t seeking another term, and, as Commissioner Holly Jones (also a former Council member) resides in that district, he looks forward to running alongside her in the 2012 campaign, and touted her support.
“Holly has done a great job as County Commissioner. I am proud to lend my full support to her re-election campaign and am honored to have her support.” Newman writes.
Jones adds: “I am excited that Brownie is running for County Commission. He has contributed a lot to the City Council over the past eight years and he will be an effective member of the Commission.”
Newman tells Xpress that when he decided not to run for another term on Council, he hadn’t decided whether to run for another political office.
“I thought a lot about this,” he says. “I looked at the issues I cared about and felt I could do even more good at the county level.” He also adds that he looks forward to running alongside Jones and, if elected, working with her on their similar policy goals.
“Holly and I had a really good working relationship on Council,” he notes.
Newman will hold a campaign kick-off event in January.
Meanwhile, the other two new commissioner districts are made up of portions of the county with much more conservative demographics.
Republican David King is planning to run for one of two open seats in the 116th District, which encompasses much of the western part of the county, including Leicester and Enka. And just last week, Republican Mike Fryar announced he’s planning to take on Democratic incumbents K. Ray Bailey and Carol Peterson to try to win one of the two seats representing the 115th District, made up of eastern Buncombe.
Current commissioners have said the new district system was created against their will.
The new law also expanded the board to seven members. During next year’s transition, each district will elect two commissioners: The winner gets a four-year term and the runner-up two years (after that, the elections will be staggered).
While Newman says he’s concerned that the new districts will worsen the city/county divide instead of helping commissioners “to realize that Buncombe County and the city of Asheville will rise and fall together” but that he feels there’s still significant good that can be achieved at the county level.