4×4: Four weeks, three candidates?

4x4: Because information on 16 candidates is hard to fit in print, Xpress has been introducing four randomly chosen candidates per week for the last two weeks. From left to right, we have John Miall, Joe Grady, Keith Young and a withdrawal from Holly Shriner

 The final week of Xpress’ Asheville City Council candidates series comes with a surprise withdrawal from the race.

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 for week one, with incumbent Marc Hunt, Richard Liston, Ken Michalove and LaVonda Payne. Click here for week two, with Lindsey Simerly, Dee Williams, Carl Mumpower and Corey Atkins. And click here for week three with Grant Millin, Julie Mayfield, Rich Lee and Brian Haynes.

John Miall

In 2013, John Miall went head-to-head with now-Mayor Esther Manheimer, seeking the mayoral vote. Now he’s looking for a spot on Council. Miall graduated from UNC Asheville with a degree in political science and worked as the city’s risk management consultant for nearly 30 years before retiring in 2005.

In a press release, Miall writes, “Asheville continues to be a community of many robust and diverse ideals and interests.  I do not believe the monopoly of a single political view represented by recent City Councils reflects that diversity.  A voice of reason, restraint and experience is needed.

“I have seen and been part of government that put the public interest first, avoided the pitfalls of scandal after scandal, and balanced budgets without biennial tax increases.  I believe Asheville is capable of better and certainly deserves better.”

If elected, Miall says he intends to work on setting a tax rate that reflects priorities “consistent with the role of local government,” including policing, fire protection, trash collection, paving streets and sidewalks and making the community safe. “Only after these core needs are met … should any city consider spending millions and millions of dollars on new development.”

Miall writes that he also wishes to diversify Asheville’s economy: “Tourism historically made Asheville the destination it remains for all of us, and will forever be a part of who we are, but the endless support of that one single element of our economy will continue to suppress wage earners and fail to create genuine employment opportunities. We can and should have both.”

Other goals Miall mentions include supporting city employees, fiscal responsibility and accountability, working with other local governments to sort out the water issues in the region, stopping excessive government spending on consultants and outside legal costs and reducing an “endless stream of regulation that frustrates small business [owners] and developers.”

For more on Miall: miallforcouncil.com

 Keith Young

Another “back again” candidate, Deputy Clerk of Superior Court Keith Young will be on the ballot this fall after running unsuccessfully for county commission in 2012 and 2014.

Young received a bachelor’s degree in communications and design from Virginia State University and has worked in marketing and advertising for more than 13 years.

Growing up locally in a political household, Young says his interest in local government sparked at a very young age.

“I remember sitting around with party officials — we always talked politics in our household,” he explains. “It’s always been an interest of mine, being able to see how things change in society due to politics.”

Though Young has worn many different hats — he’s been a business owner and worked for Disney out of college — he says politics is one thing he’ll never get bored with.

“It’s in me,” he says. “It’s in me to want to help folks. … I know where real change comes from: Real change comes from activism. Real change comes from people going to the polls and voting. Real change comes from people being interested in their community. Real change comes from politicians understanding the constituents that they serve — and serving them in a way that will create growth for everyone. I know you can’t be all things for all people, but we can sure as hell try.”

Young’s main stances for the community are social justice, improved transit systems, connecting the greenways, increasing the housing stock for affordable development and strengthening the Police Department.

For more on Young: votekeith.com

 Joe Grady

Former real estate broker and former North Canton, Ohio city councilman Joe Grady has lived in North Carolina since 2000. Having served six years on North Canton’s City Council, 25 years in real estate and through his continuous work as a volunteer, Grady writes that one of his greatest passions is helping others.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in political science, American government and public relations from Ohio State University, Grady went on to earn a master’s in public administration from Phoenix University, where he wrote his thesis on affordable housing in Asheville.

“It is very clear that the affordable housing issue is a hot topic in this election,” Grady writes to Xpress. “Is it the only issue? Absolutely not. … [But] I have worked with residential housing; I built residential housing for all income levels, including a senior housing development, and I studied affordable housing.”

Being a South Asheville resident, Grady writes that this is an area that has had “no representation on City Council for years. … When you look at South Asheville as the fastest residential growth area of the city, [it] concerns me that the entire Southern tier of of the city, that goes all the way to the airport, has no representation.”

In his spare time, Grady volunteers with his pet golden retriever, Beckett, a registered therapy dog, at Mission and Mission Children’s Hospitals, WNC Down’s Syndrome Buddywalk, Four Seasons Hospice, UNC Asheville and Deerfield Village Retirement Community.

Grady believes the biggest challenges facing Asheville are affordable housing, safety, city services, zoning changes, environmental concerns, taxes and beautification of the city.

For more on Grady: joegrady.com

Holly Shriner

Holly Shriner, vice chair of the city Planning and Zoning Commission, registered her candidacy just before the deadline to file.

But on Aug. 10, Shriner announced her decision to withdraw from the election.

“It is with great regret that I must inform you of my intention to withdraw from the race for a seat on the Asheville City Council,” Shriner writes in an email. “I have had a serious health issue arise, and I have been advised by my doctor to take it seriously.”

Over the phone Shriner says, however, that this “won’t be the last” we see of her, politically speaking. “I love Asheville, and I want to serve in some capacity. … But if I had seen this coming, I would have never planned to run.”

After speaking with the Buncombe County Board of Elections, Shriner explains she was informed that her name would still appear on the primary ballot this fall — despite her withdrawal — and that any votes would still count toward her discontinued campaign.

“I just want to get the word out so people don’t waste that vote,” she explains.


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About Hayley Benton
Current freelance journalist and artist. Former culture/entertainment reporter at the Asheville Citizen-Times and former news reporter at Mountain Xpress. Also a coffee drinker, bad photographer, teller of stupid jokes and maker-upper of words. I can be reached at hayleyebenton [at] gmail.com. Follow me @HayleyTweeet

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