Jonathan Wainscott, a West Asheville resident and small business owner, announced July 12 that he plans to run for Asheville City Council.
A woodworker specializing in interior design, Wainscott has lived in Asheville since 1998. He sent the below email announcing his candidacy:
I’m running for Council. Here’s my platform:
The primary function of the City of Asheville’s City Council is to direct City staff with regards to its delivery of goods and services to the residents of our town. The City is budget crafted by the Finance Department and approved by vote of Council. Council also serves by election from the registered voters in the community and is charged with bringing the concerns of the citizens to consideration of the implementation of City services. By serving on City Council I will help improve the delivery of municipal goods and services in the following ways:
The city infrastructure needs to be clearly defined and its condition reviewed. As a general concept of decision making we must employ a “Worst First” approach in regards to maintenance and improvements to our assets. The fiscally pragmatic, but not always politically popular, approach of tending to our weakest links first will have the quickest effect on improving the strength of the City.
As it stands, City Council depends heavily on the expertise of various departments, local agencies, and consultants to generate solutions for the problems facing the City. The lack of problem solving skills within the current and previous Councils has created a lengthy and cumbersome channel of bureaucracy that is crippling the ability to properly maintain our civic services and assets. In many cases, simple and cost effective solutions to large problems are overlooked in the pursuit of perfect answers to each element of complex and overlapping issues. For instance: Traffic safety, public safety, community cohesiveness, and beautification of public space can all be improved with a simple plan for roadway organization. (20 MPH neighborhoods, roadway markings for fire hydrants, yellow curbs for parking control, removal of unnecessary signage, more visible address numbers on properties and overhead street identification).
Basic Needs Focus
The City should also adopt the approach of fostering the care of its residents at the most basic level of human needs: food, water, and shelter. As Asheville has been designated the 9th hungriest city in the nation, we need to examine how our civic policies and resources are being managed to improve this situation. The fight to maintain municipal control over our water system must continue. Public housing, affordable housing, building safety, and permitting need to be reviewed with the intention to streamline protocols that aide all residents with regards to having safe and secure shelter. Local agencies serving each of these basic needs respectively should be brought together to determine how they can work together with the City to focus attention and effort towards the fulfillment of these needs.
The ability of our city to grow and prosper is contingent on smart economic development. The partnerships that are maintained between the city and other agencies like the EDC and the Chamber of Commerce need to be understood as engagements of necessity and not choice. City services and resources are ultimately affected by growth and their use as bargaining devices to attract development must be done so with accuracy of value and transparency to the community at large. We must develop our economic base by fostering the powers of attraction and not the mere appearance of attractiveness. Economic incentives are received by businesses in terms of real dollars and the return on the City’s investment through incentives must be quantified by real dollar amounts as well. Hypothetical benefits of secondary effects of development should not be accepted as guaranteed returns on those investments. All business plans are developed with the intention of success, yet many plans fail. It is with this understanding that all potential negative impacts of development must be considered with regards to the risks of our investments. An accurate and honest assessment of our assets and available resources must be maintained in order to fully understand what type of development and growth is possible and practical in our community.
We must also give weight to the importance of our school system, child care programs, public safety, and quality of life when presenting our community as a place worth doing business. The same things that make Asheville an attractive place to live, make Asheville a wonderful place to grow a business. The higher our level of educational performance and diversity of educational options, the more our community will stand apart from competitive marketplaces. Investments in education enrich the future of Asheville by providing the next generation of Asheville’s citizenry the skills and knowledge necessary to further the economic and cultural growth of the community. This benefit extends well beyond the boundaries of Asheville as those who grow up here will take the values of our town to parts beyond, sharing with the world.
Crime and public safety must be managed with the highest degree of honor, urgency, and transparency. The mitigation of crime against person and property must receive attention in that order of priority. Consensual crimes should be given the lowest priority of law enforcement so as not to detract from the efforts to prevent and prosecute crimes against persons or property. The role of the Asheville Police Department must go beyond law enforcement. Police officers are also charged with the responsibility of maintaining civic order and assisting citizens in distress. For example, police officers must bring order to traffic disrupted by accidents in addition to investigating the accident itself.
I look forward to bringing a creative perspective and practical solutions to the citizens of Asheville by my election to City Council.