Longtime conservative activist Mike Fryar plans to run for the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners in 2012. He’ll file the paperwork with the Board of Elections to open a campaign committee this week, he says.
Fryar has been considering a run for several months, raising his public profile by repeatedly criticizing current board members at their meetings and in the media. He was the first citizen to raise concerns about commissioners’ pay earlier this year, noting that, including technology and travel stipends, they were among the highest-paid in the state. Media outlets across the region echoed his concern, and soon afterward the commissioners took action to significantly cut their own pay.
But Fryar thinks the commissioners still get paid too much. And he says that cutting government spending and opposing any tax increases would be his two biggest priorities if elected.
“They just dump money wherever they want to dump it,” he charges. “The way this group’s doing it, once the houses devalue, they’re going to try to go up on taxes. That’s something I’m totally against.”
Fryar, a registered Republican and retired engine builder and auto dealer, has also been an outspoken critic of the board’s decision to put a quarter-cent sales-tax increase on the ballot.
But in the days since, Fryar has maintained that it wasn’t fair to hold the referendum in a year when there were no countywide races on the ballot. Because the vote was so close, he urged the commissioners during their Nov. 15 meeting to hold another vote on the measure next year before levying the tax. (Board Chair David Gantt says they plan to levy the tax as soon as possible).
Meanwhile, Fryar will run in District 115 under a new election system engineered in Raleigh earlier this year. That will pit the Fairview resident against incumbent commissioners K. Ray Bailey and Carol Peterson, both Democrats. They’ll be vying for two seats in the district, which includes slightly more registered Democratic voters than Republicans.
Fryar thinks his chances of success depend on his fundraising abilities.
“If I can raise $16,000 to $18,000 by February, I’m definitely in,” he opines, adding: “If it turns into $4,000, then I can’t compete with K. Ray or Peterson, either one, because they’ve got the money.”
Fryar ran unsuccessfully for the Board of Commissioners in 2008 under the previous the at-large election system. Current commissioners have said the new district system was created against their will, with the goal of increasing Republican representation by dividing the county into districts more favorable to conservative candidates.