Press release from Cecil Bothwell:
Cecil Bothwell announced today that he will seek a third term on Asheville’s City Council. “I feel I’ve been an effective advocate of important initiatives and an effective critic of the establishment status quo,” he said. “I’m willing to invest another four years working for a city I love if the voters give me that opportunity.”
“The biggest piece of unfinished business I want to work on is the new park in front of the Basilica.” Starting in 2005 Cecil has been a leader in the fight for a park opposite the Basilica of St. Lawrence and the Civic Center, helping to defeat plans for a multi-story parking deck and then opposing construction of a hotel or other commercial development on the property.
“Since 2005 residents have lobbied City Council to make that area green space and I have always favored it. “We now have three solid votes for the park on City Council, and I’m pretty sure the November election will add a fourth,” he said, and added, “Though I remain optimistic that we won’t have to wait that long.”
Cecil’s principal focus has been on environmental issues for decades. In 2003 Cecil wrote the petition which generated enough support to block construction of a massive high-rise on part of what is today Roger McGuire Green.
He has been a leading advocate for single-stream recycling and the steady reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from City operations. His push for installation of LED streetlights is saving taxpayers over $300,000 per year, and his advocacy for transportation and parking reform is geared to remake how all of us move around the city. He is a strong supporter of the local food movement and is working to increase tree protection throughout the city. On a personal level he lived off-the-grid for more than 20 years and now lives in a net-zero solar powered home and grows as much food as his neighborhood ground hog permits.
In 2010 Cecil voted against raising the Level 2 development ceiling to 175,000 square feet, a change that removed most large development projects from Council consideration. He criticized the change for seven years and on Feb. 14, 2017 Council finally reduced the definition to 100,000 s.f., with all hotel projects to be subject to Council oversight.
In 2016 Cecil raised concerns about the Beaucatcher Greenway design which resulted in revamping that will save many trees and more than $200,000.
Cecil challenged Rep. Heath Shuler in the 11th Congressional District primary in 2012. “I was tired of watching our Democratic representative vote with the Republicans in Congress and it seemed no one else would call him to task,” he explained. Shuler withdrew from the race and Cecil lost to Hayden Rogers in an abruptly gerrymandered district, but won in the remaining Buncombe County precincts.
“I believe I bring a more diverse set of experiences and skills to my work on Council than most politicians,” he said. Cecil’s career includes decades as a green builder, founding editor of a Warren Wilson College environmental journal, managing editor of the Mountain Xpress, investigative reporter, radio host and commentator, syndicated columnist, musician, slam poet, artist and organic gardener. He is author of 10 books, winner of regional and national journalism awards, and has addressed issues of ethics and the environment before groups in 25 cities in a dozen states. A Buncombe resident for 37 years he has camped and traveled in every state and canoed parts of every major river system in North America. For more than a decade he has served on the boards of two local nonprofit groups building libraries and grade schools in Bolivia and Guatemala.
Cecil’s time on Council has included Chairing the Public Safety Committee, serving on the Finance Committee, Housing and Community Development Committee and the Asheville Area Riverfront Redevelopment Commission; and as liaison to the Tree Commission, the Sustainability Advisory Committee on Energy and the Environment, the Airport Authority, the Recreation Advisory Board, the Noise Ordinance Appeals Board, and the Board of Electrical Examiners.