Christina Kelley G. Merrill is planning to run for the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners in the 115th District, which includes much of the eastern part of the county, from Fairview to Barnardsville.
The proprietor of KellyCo Productions, a small marketing, production and public relations firm, Merrill has been a resident of Buncombe County for nearly two decades. She’s best known in the area as a former host and producer for Clear Channel Radio and Charter Communications Channel 10. A Republican, she says she’s inspired to make her first bid for public office by a sense of wanting to bring balance to the board, which is currently made up of five Democrats.
“We need reasonable people from both sides,” says. “There needs to be fair representation for the entire county. And that’s not happening right now. … I’m very passionate about having balance.”
The 115th District is currently represented by commissioners K. Ray Bailey and Carol Peterson. Neither have announced yet if they plan to seek additional terms. Republican Mike Fryar is also vying for one of the two seats in the district. And like him, Merrill says a priority if she’s elected would be to keep taxes down.
“Taxes have been a big hindrance for businesses looking to move to Buncombe County,” she maintains. “We need to be taking a look at that and seeing how we can be more appealing to new businesses. And putting our people to work.”
Merrill adds that she was strongly opposed to the recent decision by the commissioners to levy a quarter-cent sales-tax increase to fund capital improvements at A-B Tech. Voters endorsed the measure by a razor-thin margin in a Nov. 8 referendum.
“I understand the need for repair and new buildings. However, if we’re making a list of priorities about what’s important to the county as a whole, we have people losing their houses. They cannot afford to pay their own mortgages, let alone pay for a new building at A-B Tech,” she explains. “I hear a lot of frustration out there. I’d like to be that voice for people.”