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.
Brian Haynes, showroom manager at Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore and brother of musician Warren Haynes, announced his candidacy just last month. His position is simple: to advocate for the people of Asheville and be “a good listener.”
“My family is my motivation for [running for Council],” says the lifelong Asheville resident. “I just want to see Asheville move in the right direction for [my children and grandchildren’s] futures.”
Former owner of the now-closed Almost Blue Records and The Basement bar, he and other like-minded entrepreneurs are credited with helping revitalize downtown, from a closed-up ghost town to a thriving epicenter for local business.
While Haynes cites affordable housing and the living wage as two of the biggest issues he hopes to tackle if elected, those two issues fall under one umbrella: “My biggest concern of all is that I think we’re growing at an incredible rate — and possibly too fast. … We invest more in growth than we do in citizens and the community and the town.
“We’ve still got huge infrastructure problems that aren’t being addressed,” he continues. “I just feel like we maybe need to slow the growth and take care of the problems that exist,” while still preserving “Asheville’s unique charm. It’s a unique city. If we bring in too many hotels and too many corporate chain stores, I think we could easily lose our charm and become just like any other city.”
For more on Haynes: brianhaynesforavl.com
Julie Mayfield, co-director of MountainTrue, has worn many different hats in and out of the community. She’s an attorney, an advocate and a graduate of Leadership Asheville. She chairs the city’s Transit Committee and is a member of both the city’s Multimodal Transportation Commission and the WNC Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
“I am a problem solver and a leader,” she writes on her campaign website. “My job for the last 20 years has been to work in the place of uncertainty and conflicting views and to find ways to move forward. … My career has given me the depth and breadth of experience to make progress on the challenges Asheville faces — how we grow, how we invest scarce dollars, how we take care of people and the environment and how we work together cooperatively and constructively.”
Some of her goals for Asheville include shutting down coal-burning power plants, adding more bus, pedestrian and biking infrastructure and balancing Asheville’s growth with preservation of our people, culture and environment to “ensure everyone — young and old, rich and poor, black and white — shares in Asheville’s success.”
For more on Mayfield: juliemayfieldforcouncil.org
Grant Millin, founder of Innovograph, has a bachelor’s degree in sustainability and security studies from UNC Asheville and a master’s in project management and entrepreneurship from Western Carolina University. He is a GroWNC consortium member, City of Asheville Community Energy Plan member and a Leadership Asheville and City of Asheville Citizens’ Academy graduate.
In 1980, Millin’s parents bought the historic T.S. Morrison & Co,. hardware store, which today houses Lexington Avenue Brewery.
“A lot has changed in Asheville,” Millin writes. “I remember well the hard work it took to move from 1980 Asheville to where we are today.”
And, Millin tells Xpress, he hopes to keep pushing Asheville forward to a sustainable future.
Affordability, poverty and hunger make up the three sides of a single problem, he explains. And in order to address this and other problems, Millin’s “strategy is to create a more sustainable society.”
“For example,” he says, “the BB&T building was sold for a hotel condo project — that’s not sustainable tourism, there. We should have some good white collar, green collar jobs in that building. All those floors could be well paying jobs rather than a hotel condo.”
Some of his other goals include keeping government transparent, addressing issues of climate change and the environment and bringing tourists in to Asheville by passenger train, rather than clogging city garages with out-of-town cars.
For more on Millin: grantmillin.com
Edward Jones financial adviser Rich Lee is a member of the East West Asheville neighborhood group and the City of Asheville Greenway Committee, chair of Buncombe County Triad and more.
Now, he’s also a candidate for the 2015 City Council elections.
Moving to Western North Carolina in 1997, Lee attended Western Carolina University, earning bachelor’s degrees in English and Spanish and a master’s in English. After graduation, Lee and his wife joined the Peace Corps, spending time in a small Jordanian village.
As part of his Council position, Lee advocates for bike lanes in West Asheville, installation of traffic calming lanes, Asheville’s affordability, job opportunities and social justice. His goals include growing the greenway system to connect underserved communities, taking back control of busy, dangerous roads, opening city-owned land for neighborhood uses (like trails and community gardens) and directing the hotel room-tax revenue to local needs.
On the last point, Lee writes, “Tourism should pay for the impacts of tourism on the community.”
For more on Lee: richleeforasheville.com