James Latimore

James Latimore

James Latimore

Age: 75
Residence: Woodfin
Occupation: College teacher (retired)
Education: Ph.D. sociology, City University of New York
Party: Democrat
Political experience: Woodfin Water Board (elected 2003, re-elected 2005); precinct chair (Woodfin); Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force (Metropolitan Planning Organization); Veterans For Peace activist

1. Do you support allowing individual municipalities to enact their own campaign-finance reform ordinances?

Yes, but would prefer statewide reform. I would eliminate gifts from lobbyists and PACs altogether and provide public funds for elections. We’re in danger of losing our democracy — not only to money, but to the game of political partisanship.

2. Do you believe the state’s ethics law for legislators is adequate? If not, how would you change it?

See Jim Black’s troubles. Ethics involves putting the public’s interests first. However, people do love power and the money that flows to it. … Maybe we need an Academy of Ethics for legislators (Plato, you have a call on line one). No seat till you’ve earned your certificate.

3. What’s your position on the proposed passenger-rail service between Raleigh and Western North Carolina?

Strongly favor it. Have proposed an even more extensive rail network to get cars and trucks off the road, improve air quality, and reduce dependence on oil. Need to plan new … developments so as to cut out the long commute , and encourage the building of self-sufficient eco-villages.

4. Would you support state funding for renovating or rebuilding the Asheville Civic Center? Why or why not?

I’m proposing a Community Development Corporation, a public/private entity that would raise money (with state backing) for just such purposes. [It would] also help towns like Woodfin assemble land, raise money and involve private developers in the construction of commercial and industrial facilities that will add muscle to their economies.

5. Do you support a public-funding option for Council of State candidates, similar to the judicial public-financing system approved in 2002? Why?

I support public funding for elections — period. I’ve had it up to here with the argument that money is the equivalent of free speech. It’s an argument favored by those who have the money — and those who hope to see some of it directed their way.

6. What do you plan to do to ensure equitable distribution of state lottery funds to WNC?

Go back to the drawing board and come up with a new formula. The money should be distributed equitably on the basis of school population. It isn’t now — we’re getting screwed in WNC by a formula that was devised by the powers in the eastern part of the state.

7. Name three state budget areas or items that should be reduced and three that should be increased.

Cut the I-26 connector (till they get it right); sell the Governor’s Western Residence. … We’re losing entire industries and need an [educational] infrastructure for new “smart jobs.” … Raise teacher salaries above the national average over 10 years; set up a High School for Science and Engineering.

8. Would you approve additional local-option rooms-and-meals or food-and-beverage taxes for Buncombe County? Under what circumstances?

Probably yes. But I … would prefer to make the increase worth it to visitors. Make it a bike-friendly area. Close a couple of streets to cars. Residents and tourists alike could bike downtown, shop on Lexington Avenue, buy a book at Malaprop’s, enjoy the street life.

9. As WNC’s land prices skyrocket, would you support tools — such as the property-transfer tax or inclusionary zoning — to help communities keep housing affordable?

Yes. … [I support] encouraging co-housing. I’ve also proposed land banks to accumulate land for affordable housing, and a surcharge (a housing-depletion fee) on “McMansions.” Nothing against million-dollar houses, but they can help pay for more modest cottages for the peasants. See my Community Development Corporation also.

10. What most distinguishes you from your opponents in this primary?

EXPERIENCE on the Woodfin Water Board … and VISION, seeing the need for a new federalism involving state initiatives, a new economy based on the “smart jobs” needed to ride out the storms of globalization, and a new democracy combining the wisdom of the people and the Internet.

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