On Wednesday morning, Aug. 12, Buncombe County Commissioner Holly Jones announced her candidacy for lieutenant governor of the state of North Carolina.
“As many of you know, I’ve spent 14 years serving this wonderful community as an elected official — what an honor, what a privilege to represent these citizens,” Jones said at her tightly packed press conference later that day. “I would have been content to continue to serve this wonderful community, except for what republicans are doing to our state.”
The room erupted in applause, and when it settled down, Jones continued: “They’re doing longterm damage, and we’ve seen it firsthand. In 2011, our community was ground zero for the legislature’s assault on local government. They meddled in our airport business; they redistricted our county. One year, they created a recreational authority, and the next year they dissolved it. They even tried to seize our multimillion dollar water system.
“It’s the heavy hand of big government, from the party that says they’re about small government. It’s hypocrisy, and it’s harmful.”
Jones went on to explain that the problems don’t stop at Buncombe County. Other counties and municipalities around the state are feeling these same pressures, “and they’ve done it against the wishes of local officials and without the support of the citizens who are affected by their actions.
“These republicans are more interested in power than they are in governing,” she continued. “They’ve caused uncertainty and instability just because they can. And as one republican legislator stated, and I quote, ‘Municipalities and cities are subdivisions of a state, and a state can play with their property if they feel like it.’ They’re playing games; we’re trying to govern.”
Growing up in North Carolina, Jones said, “I know the value of public education. I know the value because of the opportunities they afforded me. And as a mother of a teenager, it makes me angry and dismayed that she and her peers may not have the same opportunities that I did because of these republican legislators.
“For most of my life, North Carolina was a leader in the South,” Jones explained. “I was proud of that. The GOP has made us a laughing stock and left the rest of the country wondering, ‘What happened to North Carolina?’ … While the rest of the Southern states were taking down Confederate flags, our legislature was protecting Confederate monuments.”
On to her reasons for candidacy, Jones explains that she’s “never, never been one to back away from a challenge — never been one to sit idly by. And I’m certainly not going to now. I want to work to put North Carolina back on the right track.
I’m running for lieutenant governor because I have a deep investment in North Carolina, and North Carolina has a deep investment in me.”
From Holly Jones’ campaign:
Asheville, NC – Buncombe County Commissioner Holly Jones announced today that she is entering the race for Lieutenant Governor. Jones, who has spent the last 14 years serving in local government, said she is running because of the General Assembly’s constant meddling in local affairs. She says that Raleigh needs new leaders who better understand and respect the role of local government instead of partisans who just want to score political points.
“As County Commissioner, I’ve seen firsthand the damage these legislators have done to our counties,” Jones said. “In 2011, Buncombe became ground zero for their heavy-handed tactics. They’re playing politics while we’re trying to govern.”
Jones says the legislature redistricted Buncombe County, meddled in airport business, and even tried to seize Asheville’s water supply, a multi-million-dollar asset. She also points to redistricting in Wake County and Greensboro, as well as changing nonpartisan elections to partisan ones in Lee County.
Jones also criticized Republicans for cutting budgets that pass expenses to local governments. She called them unfunded mandates, and said they hurt the state as a whole.
“In their ideological zeal, Republican legislators have slashed public education, leaving our schools underfunded and our teachers underpaid,” said Jones. “They’ve short-changed our children and our future.”
Jones was elected to the Buncombe County Commission in 2008, and before that, spent seven years on the Asheville City Council, including two as Vice Mayor. During her tenure, Asheville and Buncombe County have seen impressive economic growth. In the last five years, Jones and her colleagues have created 2,860 jobs paying an average of $44,667 a year, and Buncombe County has the lowest unemployment rate in the state. They have accomplished this while passing the state’s most ambitious carbon emission reduction goals and awarding teachers among the dozen highest salary supplements of any county.
Jones is the Director of Member Services for YWCA USA. Prior to that, she was the Director of the Southeast Region and Executive Director of the Asheville YWCA. She began her career as a public health educator in Durham after obtaining her B.A. in Public Policy Analysis and a Masters of Public Health from UNC-Chapel Hill. Jones also has a Masters in Divinity from Duke University and spent three years doing mission work.
“I’ve never been one to sit idly by, and I’m certainly not going to now,” Jones said. “I’m ready to fight to put North Carolina back on the right track, and to bring the Buncombe success story to the rest of the state.”
Jones grew up in Wadesboro and Asheboro, the daughter of a public school teacher and a former state senator and county commissioner. For the last 19 years, Jones has made her home in Asheville, where she lives with her husband, Bob Falls, and their daughter, Gabriela.