Nine candidates, including two incumbents, will vie for three seats on Asheville City Council this year, as the filing period ended today at noon. Vice Mayor Brownie Newman will not run for re-election, and LGBT activist TJ Thomasson joined the race, filing earlier today.
With filing closed, the candidates are: Council members Jan Davis and Bill Russell; Greenway Commission Chair Marc Hunt, libertarian activist Tim Peck, Haw Creek Community Association President Chris Pelly, engineer (and active Republican) Mark Cates, community activist Lael Gray, retired schoolteacher (and former Boone Town Council member) Saul Chase, and Thomasson.
Thomasson, who announced his candidacy after filing today, declared in a statement that he “isn’t just a gay candidate for a city known for its progressive and LGBT-friendly atmosphere. He is a candidate for all of Asheville and supports a city that is healthier, greener and most of all, happier in this great paradise in the mountains.”
An avid runner, he also asserted that his run for office would take on a literal dimension, saying that he “will actually be running each and every street of Asheville, beginning today through Election Day.”
With filing closed, it is clear Newman, on Council since 2003, will not run for re-election. In a statement on the Scrutiny Hooligans political blog, Newman declared he wanted to focus on his work with FLS Energy, where he is vice president.
“I want to thank all of my friends and supporters in Asheville for the opportunity to serve on Asheville City Council for the past seven and a half years,” Newman states. “I continue to see local government as a place where people can make a real difference in their community. I look forward to working with my colleagues on Council for the remainder of 2011 and congratulate the Council members who have chosen to run for re-election, as well as the other citizens who will stand for election this fall.”
Newman adds that he is proud of Asheville’s commitment to energy independence and “has been both progressive and fiscally responsible.”
The Oct. 11 primary will narrow the race down to six candidates. The top three vote-getters in the Nov. 8 general election will move on to Council.
— David Forbes, senior news reporter