Candidate: Keith Thomson

Keith Thomson

Keith Thomson

Political party: Democrat
Residence: Asheville
Occupation: Systems engineer/small-business owner
Education: B.A. UNCA; M.A., UNC-Chapel Hill
Political experience: Former PTO president, Jones Elementary; parent rep, Asheville City Schools Budget Advisory Committee; FX Committee chair, Asheville High Business Alliance; Children First 2004 Volunteer of the Year; Buncombe County Energy Commission, 1982-84; Clean Air Community Trust board, 2002-05; past president/newsletter publisher/currrent Scholarship Committee chair, Asheville Civitan Club; volunteer with many community groups
Endorsements: None

1) How much money have you raised for your campaign? Who are your top three donors, and how much has each contributed?

Total: $7,524 (including $2,200 in candidate loans)
Top three: Roger Derrough $1,000, Helen Powers $200, John Reed $200

2) What is your position on the Parkside condominium proposal?

“The bequest of land for a public park by George Willis Pack to the people of Buncombe County should be protected according to the limits of the law. Significant sales or leases of public land should be done in an open and transparent process in the future.”

3) What most distinguishes you from your opponents in this primary?

“I have two children in our public schools, am a small-business owner and technology entrepreneur, and have been a local community volunteer for nearly three decades. My volunteer focus for the last decade is on school improvement and creatively strengthening family and community support for children and their teachers.”

4) What do you consider to be your most controversial policy position, and why

“Creating a Green Energy Park at the old Woodfin landfill as an incubator for local industry to leverage underused resources—blue-green algae, marginal land, methane gas and wastewater from the MSD plant—to create jobs and feedstock for biofuels, plastics and other marketable resources (see www.keithforbuncombe.org/faqs.html for details).”

5) What would you do to attract better-paying jobs to the area?

“Nurture and grow small businesses, especially those that develop technology and services to increase energy efficiency and use local renewable resources. Strengthen local funding for our public schools and community college. Promote planning of public investments in infrastructure and services focused along our transportation corridors.”

6) Has the present board conducted its business with sufficient transparency? If not, what would you do to increase openness?

“There is always room for improvement. Witness the creation of cable-television coverage of county meetings and the county’s Web site since 1996. Public-access TV and the Internet will continue to open the door for more voices covering the civic life of our community.”

7) Should the public-comment period before and after board meetings be televised? Why or why not?

“Televising public comment will very likely lengthen meetings, but an orderly process of including the public in local government will result in improved transparency.”

8) What steps, if any, would you support to increase the supply of affordable housing in Buncombe?

“Planning must include identifying land and coordinating water, sewer, roads, schools, green spaces and protection of quality of life. We should encourage private builders and lenders to aim at a price range within reach of teachers, firefighters, sheriff’s deputies and others who work in and serve our community.”

9) Should the cities and towns in Buncombe consolidate any services? Why?

“Mutual interest should lead us to leverage the combined purchasing power of all agencies of local governments using online ordering procedures for supplies to save money by increased volume. We should expand cooperation within areas that can build trust and collaboration and save taxpayers’ money.”

10) Are current slope-construction regulations appropriate? If not, how would you change them?

“Steep-slope regulations are necessary to protect public health and safety and to avoid runaway spending of public funds to provide services to these areas. Efforts to strengthen such regulations and avoid the erosion of protections will require vigilance.”

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