What are you hoping to accomplish this year?
Our focus has to be on economic issues. We will work hard to support efforts for new jobs, efficient government, holding the budget, partner with other governments, help residents who have lost jobs and/or experience economic distress.
We’ll work on this by continuing to invest in our schools, working to keep experienced teachers and county employees who understand our goals and are best able to achieve them.
Buncombe County will continue to reduce our carbon footprint by energy-efficiency measures and opportunities. Construction on the courthouse will continue. Present construction projects should fulfill our courthouse needs for the next 50 years.
Any big ideas or projects in the works that you're hoping to start or bring to fruition?
No new big projects. We’ll continue to partner with the city of Asheville on Civic Center improvements and to engage in appropriate associations that save money and provide similar or better service to our residents.
I will continue to meet with all mayors in Buncombe County each month to keep track of opportunities to combine efforts or partner with each municipality on mutually beneficial projects.
We will help A-B Tech with their capital construction financed by the successful 2011 referendum vote and make sure that every cent of the certificate of participation is spent on job-enhancing construction and course offerings.
What would you like to see happen in our community?
We have to plan all activities with the poor economic conditions in mind. New jobs — either through new business or expansion of existing business — will dominate everything we do. The board will aggressively seek any opportunities for new jobs.
I anticipate that the commissioners will continue to approve conservation easements of ridge tops, farms and other property that our citizen-led boards recommend to us under their priority point system.
What would you like to contribute? Any New Year's resolutions?
I hope to see business and jobs prosper in 2012 and beyond. I think people are ready for more good financial times. I hope the banks will start lending money again and help young people buy homes and relieve the work-force-housing crunch. Every working person in our county who has a good job should be able to expect a top-notch education for their children, a home they can afford, a reasonable chance to make a good living and excellent retirement at the appropriate times.
We have to continue our respect and preservation of our mountains, ridge tops, farms and natural areas as stewards of the beauty God has entrusted us with. Our belief that quality of life is a critical factor in new businesses has been confirmed by several large employers who will be moving to Buncombe County. We have to maintain the quality-of-life factors that draw tourists, working and retired folks to our mountains.