Sixteen candidates have officially thrown their hats into the ring for the Asheville City Council elections this fall. Each week, Xpress will introduce, in brief, four candidates’ backgrounds and ideas for the city.
Three seats on Council are up for grabs, marking the end of the four-year terms of Marc Hunt, Chris Pelly and Jan Davis. Davis and Pelly have been on Council since 2003 and 2011, respectively, and only Vice Mayor Hunt is seeking re-election in the fall.
Click here to view last week’s profiles.
Joining Hunt on the campaign is Barnett & Atkins defense attorney Corey Atkins. While on scholarship at American University in Washington, D.C., Atkins developed a passion for fields that support the public interest. The future attorney then returned to North Carolina to attend law school at UNC Chapel Hill, moving on to an assistant district attorney position in Charlotte.
A first-time candidate for Asheville City Council, Atkins writes on his campaign site that, although there are many issues facing the city, “the issues we must focus on, in particular, are sustainable economic development, a citywide anti-discrimination policy and the relationship of our police force with the community.
“By addressing these issues,” he writes, “City Council can ensure that Asheville is a safe and inclusive community for everyone that visits or calls it home — something that is very important to me and my family.”
On economic development, Atkins writes, “I want investment from near and far to continue, but without losing the character that built Asheville. I want to promote small business growth and provide incentives and training to those individuals seeking to establish new businesses here. The city should collaborate with local organizations like Mountain BizWorks and Asheville SCORE in helping small businesses get a smooth start and grow effectively.”
For more on Atkins: atkinsforasheville.com
Former vice mayor and city councilman from 2001 to 2009, Carl Mumpower has announced he’d like to make a comeback on the local political scene. Voted “best local villain” in the top two spots in Xpress’ Best of WNC poll for (at least) the last three years, Mumpower’s stark contrast to other council members’ views has made him the face of the ultra-conservative opinion in Asheville.
His Facebook campaign page, quoting Gen. George Patton, explains his view on the current Council’s often unified front: “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”
Some of his main stances for city government include: maintaining property tax levels, rather than raising them; not supporting economic development tax incentives or tax exemptions; accepting that Asheville cannot both cultivate an elite city for the rich and famous and maintain affordable housing for the average person at the same time; getting rid of Asheville’s “drug culture;” supporting a less politicized police force and less government interference in wages.
While on Council, Mumpower created and chaired the Asheville Public Artist of the Year program, the Memorial Stadium Restoration Committee, the Asheville-Buncombe Drug Commission, the For-Our-Kids public housing initiative and the Top-A-Stop bus stop rain-covers program.
For more on Mumpower: carlmumpowerforashevillecitycouncil.com
Campaign for Southern Equality Campaign Manager Lindsey Simerly, who also chairs the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee, ran unsuccessfully for City Council in 2007.
Back then, she was a student at A-B Tech and worked in construction, as a nanny and a massage therapist. Eight years later, she’s back, having added a lot to her resume. Simerly is a civil rights worker with experience in social justice issues and environmental and voter-rights advocacy.
“I understand why housing issues matter so desperately to families and working people in Asheville,” said Simerly. “I have 12 years of experience in policy making, organizing, collaborating and engaging the community right here in Asheville. Beyond this, I know what it means to struggle to get by in a city that’s becoming less affordable every day.”
Simerly is a campaign organizer for the Dogwood Alliance. And she coordinated and volunteered in campaigns for County Commissioner Brownie Newman, U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler, Councilman Gordon Smith and Commissioner Holly Jones.
Simerly says she also experienced what it’s like struggling to make ends meet in Asheville, and vows to “build upon my work as the chair of the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee, advancing affordability and opportunity and … addressing issues of fairness and equality for LGBT people.
“Together we will make it possible for teachers, firefighters, baristas, hotel staff — for all of our neighbors — to have the opportunity to have a fair shot at a decent living, a safe home and a better life for their kids,” she writes.
For more on Simerly: lindseyforcouncil.org
Dee Williams is another familiar face on the list, as she too ran for Council in 2007 with the campaign slogan, “building a bridge to the overtaxed and the underserved in Asheville.”
Currently, Williams coordinates the region’s Ban the Box initiative, which seeks to eliminate the criminal history reporting requirement on job applications so that those who have paid their debts can move forward in life.
With a bachelor’s degree in public administration and political science from Winston-Salem State University and an associate’s degree in accounting and business administration from Blanton’s Business College, Williams aims to bring a market-based approach to tackling social concerns.
“We have to get at the root issue of so many of our problems, which is basic economic security,” she says. Her core concerns are economic security, affordable housing, food access and transportation options.
“This campaign is going to be about much more than catch phrases and buzz words,” Williams explains. “We are about turning ideas into action. Over the next few weeks, we will be rolling out a series of initiatives that will show (and not simply tell) how I will work for this community.”
For more on Williams: dee4asheville.com