- Website: balanceforasheville.com
- Employment: Clinical psychologist
- Party affiliation: Republican
- Previous candidacy: Former vice mayor and City Council member, 2001-09
What are three achievable goals that you would champion in the next two years?
Stabilize our Police Department, restrain careless use of taxpayer money and rededicate our mission to provide good city services. Our Police Department is suffering from years of political and administrative abuse: That’s job one. [Second], we can’t have it both ways: We can’t be extravagant, with niceties over necessities, and keep Asheville an affordable city. We need to be restrained in how we spend other people’s money. Government [should do] for people what they can’t do for themselves: streets, sidewalks, public safety, trash collection. We’ve let some of those services suffer in recent years.
What are the best strategies for increasing affordable housing in Asheville?
We need to resist elitist policies. Everybody likes the idea of a Cadillac city, but that doesn’t mean we can afford it. Quit wasting money [on unnecessary projects]; quit raising taxes, all of which make Asheville more expensive. Four words represent the solution to our housing problems: density, tiny, incentives and restrained. The taller and more dense we build, the more affordable we can make housing. Provide incentives for people to do that. Just come down to earth with our concept of what Americans have to have — providing opportunities, including zoning changes [allowing tiny homes], opening the doors to higher density.
Using public money to fund the art museum: That should be a philanthropic enterprise. There are more than enough wealthy people to fund that without making grandma, who’s struggling to keep her home, help pay for it. We need to remember that when you use government money to fund things like art museums, it’s coming out of the pockets of widows on a fixed income, families working two jobs and raising three kids. I would have raised the issue that we have to remember whose pockets we’re robbing. … It’s not about whether an art museum is good or not: It’s about who pays for it.
What makes Asheville home for you?
I was raised here. I think that’s the biggest thing: It’s in my bones. It’s just a really nifty combination of topography, climate, culture, people and opportunity.
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 don’t think our focus should be on expanding anybody’s industry. I think our job is to make Asheville a safe place with good city services and a reasonable tax rate. Let the other great minds cultivate Asheville as they think best. I don’t think government is the answer for everything. Let’s take care of the things that people can’t do for themselves and then get out of the way.
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?
Topography, the cost of land and the size of our town don’t make us as attractive to businesses as many other places. We don’t have a history of being business- and industry-friendly. I think we need to send a message using [good city services, an affordable tax rate and a safe space for our citizens]. Beyond that, things are going to go where they’re going to go. Our close embrace of nature naturally makes us a tourist destination. That’s not a bad thing. We can’t control everything, but we can do those three things. I have faith that we live in a self-correcting world, and if we get out of the way, things will find a proper level.
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’m a big fan of public transit: I think transportation is our best social service. That said, I think we’ve been unrealistic in pushing people to ride buses. People prefer driving their own cars. If we could put everybody on buses, we would solve our traffic problem, but that’s not how people want to live. That’s not going to change. The single most important thing we can do is quit robbing our parking fund, chasing the fantasy of getting everybody on buses, and start building more parking. Most cities laugh at us when we talk about our traffic problem: The big problem we have in Asheville is parking. I want us to be realistic.