Voter guide to District 3 Buncombe County Commissioner candidates

Voter guide to District 3 Buncombe County Commissioner candidates-attachment0

This post features responses to the Xpress questionnaire from the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners candidates in District 3. (Pictured here from left to right: Joe Belcher, David King, Terry Van Duyn, Michelle Pace Wood).

The district includes much of the western part of the county, including Arden, Candler and Leicester. For a basic guide to the new district election system, scroll to the bottom of this page. See the responses to our questionnaire from other local candidates on Xpress’ Politics & Election page.

David King

Slogan: [no answer given]
Website: http://votedavidking.com
Residence: Candler
Top three donors: Myron Gottfried, Rick King, Lisa Wheeler
Total raised as of Sept. 1: about $18,000
Endorsements: Buncombe County Association of Educators

1. Do you support raising, maintaining or decreasing the commissioners’ total compensation, including all stipends and allowances? Why?

Without having served in this position, it is difficult to know if the current salary is appropriate . At this time, I support maintaining the current salary until an evaluation of the job requirements can be made.

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?

Given the current state of the economy and pending property tax re-evaluation, I do not believe it is the appropriate time to hold a bond referendum of any kind.

3. Should sexual orientation/gender identity be added to the list of protected classes in the county’s personnel ordinance? Why or why not?

No. I believe ALL employees should have the same protections and freedom from discrimination in the county’s personnel ordinance. No employee should be discriminated against. Employees should only be held accountable for job performance and workplace behaviors.

4. Should the county adjust the tax rate to keep property-tax revenues neutral? Why or why not?

Yes, if this prevents wild fluctuations in our taxes. An evaluation of all the criteria at hand will be needed by commissioners to make the best decision for the citizens of Buncombe County.

5. Do you support requiring residents in unincorporated parts of the county to pay for trash and recycling pickup? Why or why not?

No. It is not practical to require every county resident to pay for trash/recycling pickup. It ends up being a tax on those who cannot use this service due to their location in the county.

Terry Van Duyn

Slogan: “Bringing experience and common sense to Buncombe County.”
Website: http://votevanduyn.com
Occupation: Former programmer/systems analyst; community volunteer
Residence: South Asheville
Top three donors: Myself, Lynn Kieffer, Bill Eby
Total raised as of Sept. 1: $36,023
Endorsements: Sierra Club, WNC Central Labor Council, Sheriff Van Duncan

1. Do you support raising, maintaining or decreasing the commissioners’ total compensation, including all stipends and allowances? Why?

The citizens of the county need to get their money’s worth, which means pay must be in line with what is appropriate for a county of our size. If elected, I’ll make sure that’s the case.

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 the greenways plan. It makes quality of life a priority and makes us more appealing to businesses. I do NOT support a bond referendum now; we simply cannot afford it. I welcome discussion about creative funding sources, like the $50,000 that has been pledged by a private business.

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. In order to do their best, employees must feel safe and secure in the knowledge that they will be judged by the quality of their work and only the quality of their work.

4. Should the county adjust the tax rate to keep property-tax revenues neutral? Why or why not?

Yes. We have the second-lowest tax rate among large urban counties, and I plan to keep it that way.

5. Do you support requiring residents in unincorporated parts of the county to pay for trash and recycling pickup? Why or why not?

Buncombe is a pretty big county, and I’d be surprised if there was a one-size-fits-all solution to the problem of solid waste. I am interested in learning more about this issue from people in District 3.

Joe Belcher

Slogan: “I want the people of Buncombe County to be able to afford to live in Buncombe County.”
Website: http://belcherforcommissioner.com
Occupation: Regional manager, Clayton Homes Inc.
Residence: Candler
Top three donors: [no answer given]
Total raised as of Sept. 1: [no answer given]
Endorsements: Non-Partisan Citizens for Good Local and State Government

1. Do you support raising, maintaining or decreasing the commissioners’ total compensation, including all stipends and allowances? Why?

I have no problem reducing the pay if needed. Why? I did not take this position to negotiate pay for myself but to negotiate savings for the citizens.

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 concerned about the current proposal referred to as “Connect Buncombe.” I do not believe it meets the recreational and quality-of-life needs of all residents. The residents of Buncombe County should make this decision.

3. Should sexual orientation/gender identity be added to the list of protected classes in the county’s personnel ordinance? Why or why not?

No. The county cannot afford the burden.

4. Should the county adjust the tax rate to keep property-tax revenues neutral? Why or why not?

I believe property taxes have jumped because of unrealistic appraisals in the past. This has created the problem we are faced with. I support reducing property taxes by reducing spending. We cannot continue to tax people out of the county.

5. Do you support requiring residents in unincorporated parts of the county to pay for trash and recycling pickup? Why or why not?

I believe that we should look at alternatives to handle trash in our rural areas. Collection sites that easily meet their needs is a possible option. I do not like forcing anyone to pay for something they may not want.

Michelle Pace Wood

Slogan: “Your voice for jobs.”
Website: www.woodforcommissioner.com
Occupation: Self-employed
Residence: Candler
Top three donors: Ben Pace, Jamie Pace, multiple
Total raised as of Sept. 1: TBD
Endorsements: Multiple – I’m honored by all

1. Do you support raising, maintaining or decreasing the commissioners’ total compensation, including all stipends and allowances? Why?

There should be no raise to the compensation level, and I think we should look closely at total compensation, including individual stipends and allowances, to see where decreases should be made. We should also be careful that decreases do not disenfranchise a citizen who is not independently wealthy from serving.

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?

The western and southern regions of Buncombe County are currently underserviced when it comes to parks, and some existing parks need repair. I feel portions of the greenway project could enhance economic development in Buncombe but would encourage utilizing grants and private funding for greenways before issuing a bond.

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 do not condone discrimination and feel strongly commissioners should be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. Staff and commissioners before and after closed session indicated this addition could expose Buncombe to unknown legal or financial costs. School and social-services funding should not be put at risk on unknowns.

4. Should the county adjust the tax rate to keep property-tax revenues neutral? Why or why not?

I would like to see tax rates set as low as possible in Buncombe County. Revenues should ensure the delivery of vital services and the safety of all citizens. Possible impacts from state and federal budget cuts will be an important factor in tax-rate conversations as we move forward.

5. Do you support requiring residents in unincorporated parts of the county to pay for trash and recycling pickup? Why or why not?

I do not support a requirement but think there is a real need to address the challenges of littering and access to affordable trash-and-recycling [pickup] in our very rural areas.

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