Voter guide to District 1 Buncombe County Commissioner candidates

Voter guide to District 1 Buncombe County Commissioner candidates-attachment0

Every election, Xpress queries candidates on key issues. In this post, candidates for the two District 1 seats on the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners give their replies: Don Guge, Holly Jones and Brownie Newman. (photo by Max Cooper)

Don Guge

Party: Republican
Slogan: [no answer given]
Website: [no answer given]
Occupation: Law-enforcement officer
Residence: Emma
Top three donors: [no answer given]
Total raised as of Sept. 1: [no answer given]
Endorsements: [no answer given]

1.Do you support raising, maintaining or decreasing the commissioners’ total compensation, including all stipends and allowances? Why?
I support bringing the commissioners’ compensation in line with other counties of similar size in the state.

2. Do you support or oppose holding a bond referendum next year to fund implementation of the county’s Greenways and Trails Master Plan? Why?
Though I feel taxpayer money needs to be spent in other areas, I also believe the voters have a right to decide where money is spent.

3. Should sexual orientation/gender identity be added to the list of protected classes in the county’s personnel ordinance? Why or why not?
I am against all discrimination. I feel, however, that this would create special “classes.”

4. Should the county adjust the tax rate to keep property-tax revenues neutral? Why or why not?
Yes. When the housing market took a hit several years ago and time for a re-evaluation came up, no action was taken by the commissioners. Property owners were paying higher taxes on property that had lost value.

5. Do you support requiring residents in unincorporated parts of the county to pay for trash and recycling pickup? Why or why not?
I think the expense would be too great at this time. The landfill is available as well as the transfer station.

Holly Jones

Party: Democratic
Slogan: [no answer given]
Website: www.hollyjones.org
Occupation: Regional manager, YWCAs of the Southeast
Residence: Asheville
Top three donors: Lisbeth Cooper, Becky Anderson, Susan Sluyter
Total raised as of Sept. 1: $8,343
Endorsements: Sierra Club, Buncombe County Association of Educators

1. Do you support raising, maintaining or decreasing the commissioners’ total compensation, including all stipends and allowances? Why?
Yes. Reducing by 17 percent would put Buncombe in line with other N.C. counties our size.

2. Do you support or oppose holding a bond referendum next year to fund implementation of the county’s Greenways and Trails Master Plan? Why?
I am open to this discussion, but I would like to think through all the revenue options before pressing forward with a bond. Greenways support many public goals — public health, transportation and economic development — and deserve serious consideration for implementation.

3. Should sexual orientation/gender identity be added to the list of protected classes in the county’s personnel ordinance? Why or why not?
Yes. There is a wealth of data that tells us that LGBT individuals suffer higher incidences of harassment and discrimination on the workplace. Buncombe County needs to be a leader in our community, sending a strong signal against discrimination.

4. Should the county adjust the tax rate to keep property-tax revenues neutral? Why or why not?
I have a long history of not raising the tax rate. However, it will be important to first develop our budget prior to determining a specific tax rate.

5. Do you support requiring residents in unincorporated parts of the county to pay for trash and recycling pickup? Why or why not?
Yes, if the rates were reasonable and the current users would see a reduction based on increasing the customer base. There is net positive to the environment.

Brownie Newman

Party: Democratic
Slogan: “Effective, Progressive Leadership”
Website: www.brownienewman.com
Occupation: Partner, FLS Energy
Residence: Asheville
Top three donors: Mack Pearsall, Roger Derrough, Chuck Cole
Total raised as of Sept. 1: $9,347
Endorsements: Sierra Club, WNC Central Labor Council

1. Do you support raising, maintaining or decreasing the commissioners’ total compensation, including all stipends and allowances? Why?
The amount the commissioners used to pay themselves was overboard and a poor use of taxpayers’ money. I support the proposal made by Holly Jones this fall to further reduce the compensation to make it more consistent with the rest of North Carolina.

2. Do you support or oppose holding a bond referendum next year to fund implementation of the county’s Greenways and Trails Master Plan? Why?
I support increased funding to implement the Greenways and Trails Master Plan either through a bond or other mechanisms. Building out the greenways network will make our community more bicycle and pedestrian friendly while protecting water quality and strengthening our local economy.

3. Should sexual orientation/gender identity be added to the list of protected classes in the county’s personnel ordinance? Why or why not?
Yes. Buncombe County should take a clear stand for equality for all our citizens. The [Board of Commissioners] should make it clear that Buncombe County is a safe, inclusive community.

4. Should the county adjust the tax rate to keep property-tax revenues neutral? Why or why not?
I would prefer to seek other revenue sources, such as an increase in the hotel-occupancy fee, that allow tourists who are visiting the community to help fund our infrastructure needs. Buncombe County’s hotel-occupancy tax rate is one of the lowest in North Carolina.

5. Do you support requiring residents in unincorporated parts of the county to pay for trash and recycling pickup? Why or why not?
I would like to gather more information on this issue before adopting a specific decision.

A basic guide to the new Buncombe County district election system

Last year, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a law changing the system used to elect members of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners.

Previously, voters throughout the entire county elected four members and a chair to four-year terms on the board. The top-five vote-getters won.

But for this year, voters have been divided in to three districts, which correspond to the county’s three Statehouse districts. District 1 (corresponding to House District 114) roughly follows the borders of Asheville. District 2 (corresponding to House District 115) includes much of the eastern part of the county, from Fairview and Black Mountain to Weaverville. And District 3 (corresponding to House District 116) lies mostly to the west of town, stretching from Arden in the south to Sandymush in the northwest.

Each voter will be asked to choose two commissioners (who must live within that district), plus the board chair, who’ll still be elected countywide. This will expand the board to include six members and a chair.

In each district, the candidate receiving the most votes in 2012 will serve a four-year term; the other winner will be up for re-election in 2014. After that, all commissioners will serve four-year terms, and each district will elect one commissioner every two years.

SHARE

Leave a Reply