Buncombe County Republicans have tapped a replacement candidate for Chair of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, almost three months after primary winner Miranda DeBruhl abruptly resigned from the race. On Saturday, Aug. 6, GOP leadership unanimously approved Chuck Archerd to run against Democrat Brownie Newman.
Archerd currently lives in South Asheville and has lived in the county for 19 years. He’s a certified public accountant who ran for a seat on the county commission four years ago, but lost that bid to DeBruhl. “I did it with very little preparation, advice and money. All of which means it was a very unsuccessful campaign, but I did learn a lot,” says Archerd of his previous campaign.
Archerd names traffic congestion as one of his top issues. “It really stems from decisions that were made in putting the proper planning in place for widening I-26 from Asheville to Hendersonville and building the I-26 connector. One of the problems is we fought the state instead of worked with them, and therefore the project got put on the back burner. And here we are 15 years later sitting in traffic,” notes Archerd.
He says local and state officials now seem to be on the same page about future plans for I-26. “One of the prime jobs of county commissioners would be to lobby state and federal representatives to provide and accelerate the funding on the project,” says Archerd.
Archerd says his business experience will also play a role in crafting the county’s spending plan: “It’s hard to see exactly what goes on behind the curtain till you get behind the curtain. As I read through the budget documents, for somebody who was an auditor for about six years, there’s a number of red flags that come up. They may be nothing but it’s worth investigating. We need to look into the process and make sure that we have the kind of control on taxpayer dollars that is necessary.”
Regarding the commissioners’ decision earlier this year to move forward with property tax revaluations, he says he’s uncertain about the board’s intent. “There’s a question on why that decision was made. If it was made because there’s a feeling that some areas of the county had higher appreciation than others, and we really need to reallocate the dollars better, then I think it’s fine. If the real purpose was to go and hide the desire to do a tax increase … If we’re going to raise taxes let’s tell people we’re going to raise taxes and raise taxes on everybody equally. Let’s not cloud it with smoke and mirrors of a revaluation,” says Archerd.
Archerd also says his time in the private sector has given him the ability to recruit new business to the county. “One of the things I’ve done over the past ten years is put together real estate deals, and some pretty good-sized ones. All of that requires negotiation and interaction to pull it all together,” he explains. Those skills, he continues, will help the county attract new businesses and jobs.
A high profile business recruitment attempt fell flat earlier this year as Deschutes tapped Roanoke, Virginia over Asheville for its expansion location. Some of the finger-pointing over why the deal died was directed toward DeBruhl, who reached out to the brewery’s president without the support of the rest of the commissioners. Archerd says he doesn’t know what went on behind the scenes. He heard that certain information shared with some but not all of the commissioners, Archerd told Xpress. “That doesn’t excuse her from going outside the chain of command, so to speak. To me that action of calling up the president of the company is something that should never happen. I can’t imagine the level of frustration she felt to do that, but that’s something I would have never done,” says Archerd.
Ultimately Archerd says he’s, “Not been totally pleased with some of the decisions that have been made. So I want to take my 36 years of business experience and apply it to the chairmanship of the Buncombe County Commission.”
Current Chair, Democrat David Gantt, is not seeking reelection.