Jonathan Wainscott announces run for Asheville City Council

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:

Infrastructure Audit

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.

Economic Development

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.

Education

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.

Public Safety

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.

Jonathan Wainscott

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21 thoughts on “Jonathan Wainscott announces run for Asheville City Council

  1. North Asheville

    Does Mr. Wainscott have a position on taxes? Should they be raised? Lowered? Kept the same?

    • Jonathan Wainscott

      I find it perplexing that our tax base is growing, property values rising, the employment rate is rising faster than the rest of the state, yet we still “need” a tax rate increase. Somehow, our city is falling into disrepair while it is growing. That is a sure sign of mismanagement and waste. Efficiency should be sought before tax increases.

  2. Jonathan Wainscott

    Thanks Kim for having me on the show and posting the link. Thanks also MtnX for running my announcement.

  3. D. Dial

    I wonder how many of us are just weary of the old status quo group? I know I am, some fresh blood is badly needed.

    • bsummers

      It’s hard to believe that XPress doesn’t have an article reporting on that. Good thing that Mr. Wainscott is running, so you can turn this story into being about you running for Council and losing.

  4. Jonathan Wainscott

    North Asheville,
    I will be taking a much closer look at City finances, with an eye on wasted resources. The annual City budget is around $100M. It’s hard to imagine that there is not at least $4M wasted every year. Before issuing a tax increase we need to find out where we can gain efficiency. As our city grows, so will our needs, but it seems that expanding the tax base should result in lower taxes. If growing just means it’s going to cost us, then we should stop growing. It’s like paying to go to work instead of being paid. That doesn’t make any sense. We have a tremendous amount of creativity and ingenuity in our community. We should be able to provide much higher quality services by using what we have in smarter ways and not just throwing money in the air and hoping to see a return on the “effort”. I wish our Art Museum wasn’t so mediocre. I value the arts and culture. I don’t, however, think that raising taxes and immediately spending $2M to make the Art Museum less sad to be an appropriate expenditure considering the horrific condition of our roads, lack of sidewalks, and aging schools.

    • hauntedheadnc

      Unfortunately, you don’t have any say over whether or not we stop growing. All you have say over is whether Asheville grows and the county sprawls a little, or whether Asheville stops growing and the county sprawls a lot. Short of setting up gun batteries on the Interstate, people are still going to move to the area.

  5. Orbit DVD

    If you owe us a late fee, pay it and we’ll vote for you.

  6. NFB

    According to the NC Board of Elections website Mr. Waiscott has not bothered to vote in the Asheville City Council elections of 2007, 2009, or 2011.

    Not a disqualifier but a factor that makes me pretty skeptical of his candidacy.

    • Jonathan Wainscott

      Good thing it’s not a dis-qualifier, because that would disqualify what percentage of our population from serving? You got me. I haven’t always had this level of interest in local politics. Hopefully we will see more people becoming more tuned-in and involved in local affairs. I’m glad I am taking this journey.

    • Unaffiliated Voter

      Perhaps he didn’t vote due to the lack of qualified choices on the ballot…didya ever consider that?

      I would.

  7. D. Dial

    @ NFB. And you are anonymous so we cannot check out your voting record.
    That said, voting records are not the best indicator of anyone’s ability to grasp problems and come up with reasonable solutions vs. yet another high priced “study.”

    • NFB

      Since I am not running for public office my voting history is irrelevant.

      That said, while voting records may not be the best indicator of one’s ability to grasp problems and come up with reasonable solutions to miss three consecutive City Council elections suggests a certain lack of responsibility. Think globally, act locally.

      As I said it is not a disqualifier but it does make for an extra hurdle for Mr. Wainscott to overcome in order to win my vote, although I will say I appreciate his polite and thoughtful reply to my post.

  8. Jonathan Wainscott

    Much thanks to NFB,
    According to the NC Board of Elections website, none of the current council members, candidates or mayor voted in the 2009 municipal election. I’m not sure why his/her thorough inquiry into the voting records of the other candidates didn’t reveal to him or her that there must be something amiss with the NCBoE website, and perhaps an even greater problem in election reporting. It is hard to understand why no current CoA elected is shown to have voted in the 2009 municipal election.
    One should also know that less than 20% of registered voters in Asheville cast a ballot for mayor in 2009. I assume that NFB is one of the responsible citizens and I thank him or her for that.
    During this election I will try to increase voter turn out with vigorous debate and conversation. Hopefully that increased level of engagement will be enough to earn NFB’s respect if not vote.
    Thank you again for drawing much needed attention to the problem of low voter participation.

  9. Jonathan Wainscott

    Much thanks to NFB,
    According to the NC Board of Elections website, none of the current council members, candidates or mayor voted in the 2009 municipal election. I’m not sure why his/her thorough inquiry into the voting records of the other candidates didn’t reveal to him or her that there must be something amiss with the NCBoE website, and perhaps an even greater problem in election reporting. It is hard to understand why no current CoA elected is shown to have voted in the 2009 municipal election.
    One should also know that less than 20% of registered voters in Asheville cast a ballot for mayor in 2009. I assume that NFB is one of the responsible citizens and I thank him or her for that.
    During this election I will try to increase voter turn out with vigorous debate and conversation. Hopefully that increased level of engagement will be enough to earn NFB’s respect if not vote.
    Thank you again for drawing much needed attention to the problem of low voter participation.

  10. Jonathan Wainscott

    Jon, (shout-out to a J-O-N), I’m looking at that exact same site. 2009 is not showing “municipal” elections as the other odd years are.

    • Jon Elliston

      Jonathan (shout out to you for having my birth name), thanks for trying to clarify. I might be a little confused here, but we didn’t have any statewide or federal elections that year, did we? So our only elections would have been municipal ones, I gather.

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