Brian Haynes

Photo by Stewart O'Shields

Brian Haynes

  • Website: brianhaynesforavl.com
  • Employment: Showroom assistant manager at Habitat for Humanity
  • Party affiliation: Registered unaffiliated, votes in Democratic primaries
  • NEW! Notable endorsements: All Souls Pizza, The Amp Shop, Appalachian Realty, Asheville Face Painting, Beauty Parade, Blue Dream Curry House, Bon Vivant, The Burger Bar, The Cork & Keg, The Double Crown, Echo Mountain Recording, Empire Tattoo, Flipside, The Grey Eagle, Guitar Trader, Harvest Records, Henco Reprographics, Hip Replacements, Homegrown restaurant, The Hookah Hook-up, Indo, Jack of the Wood, The Laughing Seed, The Lazy Diamond, Musician’s Workshop, Orbit DVD, Preferred Cuts Barber & Beauty, Public School, Rise ’N’ Shine Cafe, RSFrue Studios, Sherwood Music, Town and Mountain Realty, Thorton Realty, Uptown A la Carte Hotdog Stand, West Village Deli & Market, Westville Pub, The Weinhaus and The Yacht Club.
  • NEW! Campaign contributions: $26,481.32
  • NEW! Campaign expenditures: $17,057.99

NEW! You’re running for office in the midst of a growth spurt in Asheville. What infrastructure needs will you prioritize if elected?

The highest priority would be dealing with infrastructure needs that directly affect the safety of our citizens. We need to deal with the infrastructure needs of our neighborhoods that have been put off too long [and] prioritize these according to safety concerns, including, but not limited to, new sidewalks, sidewalk repair  and street calming. This might appear to be an insurmountable problem, but it is a challenge we must address.

Funding must be pursued in the usual ways of seeking state and federal transportation and community development grants at all opportunities. But projects must be in Asheville’s best interests and within our shared vision of neighborhood improvements and quality growth and development. Our recent spurt of development has contributed to more infrastructure problems.  We should slow our development pace and take care of our existing infrastructure.

NEW! How do you think City Council should proceed in regard to short-term rentals and homestays?

I believe that the city needs to bring all the stakeholders back to the table on this issue and seek common ground and a solution that can work for all. Consideration should be given to Asheville residents who own short-term rentals and who are committed to operating within the rules and regulations, to paying taxes and fees, and to ensuring that the rentals are not a problem to the neighborhood. We need to recognize that to many people, it may be the difference in being able to make ends meet.

NEW! What can and will you do to address inequality in Asheville?

Inequality is as much the result of government policy as it is solved by government policy. Every effort must be made to elevate and include the voices of the disadvantaged. Caring for those disadvantaged, then, must be more than just an idea: It must be the function of good government. Addressing food security, affordable housing, quality education, physical mobility, racism and jobs that pay a living wage or better are the known solutions to inequality. These issues must be the top priority of just government, not an afterthought.

The neighborhoods that have traditionally supported Asheville’s black community need to be protected and maintained rather than encroached upon. Property taxes should be frozen on those homeowners who have lived in these neighborhoods for a generation or more. Blacks and other minorities must be included in all conversations and organizations that address black and minority issues. We must listen to them for ideas and solution.

NEW! What do you bring to City Council that other candidates can’t or don’t?

I want to bring change to the City Council. I believe that we need to consider the wishes and concerns of our citizens in Council’s decision-making process. I want to represent the people who, for the last several years, don’t seem to have had a voice in our city government and in this decision-making process. I will bring an open mind and a will to listen. Asheville’s citizens are educated, talented, creative problem solvers who should play a larger role in our decision-making.

We should redirect our idea of what good growth is. We need to return to the organic, sustainable growth that turned us into the destination city that we are today. I believe in supporting local, independent business: Investing money into the local economy benefits everyone. Studies show that communities with predominantly local, independent businesses have both higher wages and less poverty. I think these viewpoints are underrepresented on Council, and I believe I could be a positive voice and advocate for our city’s future.

What are three achievable goals that you would champion in the next two years?

The city has been seeking a lot of outside development, and I would like us to go the opposite direction. Help local businesses develop and advance. Offer incentives for [them] to expand and grow. No. 2: The Basilica green space. We have a very limited green space in our city, and we need to save every bit of it we can. Once we develop it, we can’t go backward. The next issue is overdevelopment. I would like to see us slow down our development and certainly see no more hotels being built. When we overdevelop and build hotels and promote the tourist industry, we’re actually hurting other aspects of the city.

What are the best strategies for increasing affordable housing in Asheville?

If we put emphasis on local investment, that would create well-paying jobs that would help us deal with the affordable housing issue. Currently the city invests in large, multifamily, affordable housing units. That’s a way of dealing with the problem, but I think we need to seek as many possible ways as we can: tax incentives for landlords to keep their rentals affordable, volunteer-based single-family building, expanding into the perimeters of surrounding communities. There’s a limited amount of space here, and we need to find space where we can. We could seek development of a tiny house neighborhood.

What is one recent City Council decision you don’t agree with, and how would you have handled it differently?haynes2

I’m not in favor of the way the city is going after short-term rentals and fining them $500 a day. I think that’s a mistake, and I think Council is overreaching by doing that. Many people are doing this out of necessity. We don’t want people to take advantage of the system: We don’t want people out of state buying them up and pushing our citizens out. But many people need the extra income to stay in this expensive city we have become.

What makes Asheville home for you?

First off, because I was born here, at Memorial Mission Hospital. I was raised here in the public school system. It’s my home, and I love it. When I was a young man, Asheville wasn’t nearly as exciting as it is now. It’s grown into such a wonderful place, and I don’t know of a place I’d rather live. I was raised here. My children are here. My first grandchild will be born here in February. It couldn’t be more my home.

Do you support expanding the tourism industry, or should we focus on other areas of economic development? Or do you think government shouldn’t play a role?

I definitely think government should play a role, but I think we’ve expanded our tourism industry faster than we can keep up with the growth. At this point, I think it’s detrimental to continue expanding our tourism industry, and I don’t think hotel taxes should go to continue bringing in visitors.

A recent study showed that Buncombe County had lower growth in middle-class jobs than other areas. What can the city do to address this?

Middle-class jobs are disappearing all over the country. But Asheville and Buncombe County have even more of a problem, because so many of our jobs are in the service industry, and those jobs don’t tend to [pay a living wage]. We’ve got to seek out some different types of businesses. We can’t just strictly keep trying to grow the tourism industry, because that won’t create the kind of jobs we need.

With Asheville growing so fast and several new hotels being built downtown, how do you plan to address the inevitable traffic problems on city streets and I-240?

I certainly won’t pretend to have the answer to that, and I don’t know that anyone does. Our infrastructure cannot handle the people or the tourists we have now. That’s why I’m saying continuing to promote growth in the tourism industry doesn’t make sense. We have to improve our infrastructure before trying to grow at such a rapid pace. Maybe the most we can do is increase alternative transportation options. This will at least give citizens the option to take their vehicles off the road as much as possible.

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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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One thought on “Brian Haynes

  1. Shelia Surrett

    Brian Haynes a true Asheville native whom has helped many families in our Community…Brian Haynes a voice for We the People not Tax the People…Take Back Asheville…

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