Political party: Democrat
Education: Attended Emory University, University of New Hampshire, Prescott College
Political experience: WNC manager, Cynthia Brown for U.S. Senate; wrote petition against Grove Park high-rise (2002) which led to founding of Asheville People Advocating Real Conservancy; created Rolling Thunder/Asheville; SpareChange?/SOS-Bring them home! (2003) organizer; co-organizer Dean For America/Asheville; co-organizer Progressive Project (2004); Co-organizer Asheville Coalition (2005)
Endorsements: Asheville chapter National Organization for Women, Buncombe County Green Party, Buncombe chapter Democracy for America, Buncombe chapter Progressive Democrats of America, Sierra Club
1) How much money have you raised for your campaign? Who are your top three donors, and how much has each contributed?
Top three: John Cram $300, Drew Cherner $250, Laura Thomas $250
2) What is your position on the Parkside condominium proposal?
“Clearly a backroom deal. Commissioner Bill Stanley must have known what was being transferred—he owned the Hayes & Hopson Building for years. Stanley’s partner, Wallace Hyde, sold the H&H to Coleman. Hyde raised $60,000 for Commissioner David Young’s campaign for state treasurer. The deal stinks. Heads should roll.”
3) What most distinguishes you from your opponents in this primary?
“I have offered specific proposals that will make a significant difference in the future of our community. The other candidates mostly offer pleasant generalities. Others talk about growth and mean ‘expansion.’ I’ve offered a plan that will grow money in local wallets: That’s what we need.”
4) What do you consider to be your most controversial policy position, and why
“I advocate imposition of a ban on new septic tanks in multifamily housing and subdivision of parcels larger than 5 acres. This would slow sprawl by clustering new development near MSD lines or on private treatment systems. It would encourage the hub-and-spoke development we need to combat global climate change.”
5) What would you do to attract better-paying jobs to the area?
“Present-day ‘economic development’ is a fraud. Buncombe has embraced the current strategy for decades while industry fled. What we can do is make wages go further. Twenty percent of gross income goes to energy. Most of that money leaves the county. My proposals will bring guaranteed, inflation-proof savings to everyone.”
6) Has the present board conducted its business with sufficient transparency? If not, what would you do to increase openness?
“Whooeee! Carol Peterson has said that she never goes into a meeting without knowing how the votes will go. Well, no wonder. Commission meetings are short (not sweet) because important decisions are worked out in the backroom. We’ve caught them on tape. I’ll advocate adoption of meaningful sunshine laws.”
7) Should the public-comment period before and after board meetings be televised? Why or why not?
“Yes, at least one of the two. Viewers at home need to hear what their fellow residents are contributing to the mix. I believe the incumbents have not wanted a video record of how often they vote against the best advice of experts and the heartfelt concerns of regular folks.”
8) What steps, if any, would you support to increase the supply of affordable housing in Buncombe?
“My energy-conservation plan will do more to create affordable housing than anything the county government has done to date. Keeping local dollars local has a multiplying effect that works to everyone’s advantage. See my Web site for details.”
9) Should the cities and towns in Buncombe consolidate any services? Why?
“I would seriously consider further consolidation, though I’m not sure we’re there yet. While I have a plan to end the water war between Buncombe and Asheville, consolidation would be another way to resolve that useless battle. Law enforcement is an obvious candidate, too.”
10) Are current slope-construction regulations appropriate? If not, how would you change them?
“First I think we need to see how they work if they are enforced. I am adamantly opposed to weakening the ordinance as currently proposed by the Planning Board, to double permissible land disturbance. Any incumbent who supports undercutting the new rules is in the pocket of developers.”