Summer is almost over, and campaign signs are about to blossom. Yep, it’s election season.
Come the Oct. 11 primary, Asheville voters will decide if the city’s ship of state needs a new person at the helm — and if any of the crew members need an extended shore leave. And we’re not using the nautical metaphor lightly: There’s water, water everywhere in this election. With the Regional Water Agreement now dissolved, and the memory of City Council’s protracted and bitter battle with Buncombe County over the utility still fresh in voter’s minds, the issue promises to loom large in the coming weeks.
There’s also a Civic Center with a roof that leaks water on the heads of some of music’s biggest names; the prospect of a luxury hotel towering over (and creating a storm of controversy among) Lexington Avenue property owners; a downtown experiencing a flood of growth; a crew of waterlogged Biltmore Village property owners still questioning the city’s actions in the flood of ’04; and the ever-present threat facing West Asheville, where the N.C. Department of Transportation is still charting a course for widening Interstate 26 to eight lanes, a move that could cleave that vibrant community like Moses parting the Red Sea.
At the close of filing last Friday, Aug. 5, the following 14 candidates had signed up at the Board of Elections to appear on the October ballot. Four candidates are vying for the mayor’s office, and the other 10 are competing for three open spots on City Council. The top two primary finishers in the mayor’s race, and the top six in the Council race, will advance to the general election on Nov. 8.
So don your slickers and batten down the hatches — there’s an election brewin’.
Candidates for mayor
The following four individuals (in alphabetical order) are running for mayor.
• Terry M. Bellamy: A member of City Council since 1999, Bellamy still has two years remaining in her second term, but she’s decided to run for mayor. If she wins, the new Council members will select who fills her seat. If she loses, she’ll keep the seat. This is her second run for mayor, having missed the primary cut in 2001. Bellamy works as director of marketing and development for Mountain Housing Opportunities.
• Bill Branyon: A local author, Branyon is making his first run for mayor. But he’s no newcomer to the campaign trail, having made two unsuccessful runs for City Council. Branyon, a former reporter for Green Line (Xpress‘s predecessor publication), recently issued a press release describing his politics as progressive and quoting local literary icon Thomas Wolfe — an appropriate enough reference for a 2,700-word press release. In addition to having published three books, Branyon works at a local hotel.
• Joe Dunn: A retired dentist, Dunn was first elected to Council in 2001, when he netted the highest number of votes in that race. With his Council term drawing to a close, the rumor mill has been spinning at top speed, with some speculating that he’d had enough of the local political scene. Dunn ended the speculation when he became the last candidate to file for the mayoral race.
• Charles R. Worley: The incumbent mayor, Worley is seeking to hold onto his gavel. He was elected to the city’s top post in 2001 in his third bid for the position. A lawyer by trade, he has also served three terms as a member of City Council, beginning in 1991.
Candidates for City Council
The following 10 individuals (in alphabetical order) are running for City Council.
• Dwight A. Butner: An Asheville restaurant owner, Butner is making his first foray into electoral politics. An active member of the Asheville Downtown Association, Butner has served as a volunteer on the Council-appointed Downtown Social Issues Task Force, helping draft a number of plans to address issues such as panhandling, homelessness and graffiti.
• Robin Cape: This is the first time Cape has appeared on a ballot, but she has been elected to public office — having become the first person in Buncombe County to win an election as a write-in candidate. The north Asheville resident was elected to the Woodfin Water Board after helping to organize a grassroots movement opposing the board’s plan to log the Woodfin watershed.
• Bryan Freeborn: Freeborn made his first run for Council in the last election, and although he lost the race, he remained active on a number of fronts. He was appointed by Council as a member of the Asheville Transit Commission and he’s been a vocal advocate for issues such as traffic calming and minimizing the impact of the I-26 widening on West Asheville.
• Matthew Hebb: The first person to throw his hat in the ring for the Council race, Hebb’s been a visible presence around town ever since — even parading around Bele Chere with a cadre of sign-carrying supporters. Hebb works in the food-service industry, and this is his first run for public office.
• Jan Howard: A veteran of the 2001 Council race, Howard is back for run number two. Howard serves as a Guardian ad Litem (a court-appointed advocate for children). A former vice president of the Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods, she’s been been an active member of the Kennilworth Neighborhood Association.
• Holly Jones: Jones is completing her first term on Council, and her candidacy implies she’s ready for more. By day, she serves as the executive director of the YWCA.
• Carl Mumpower: Council’s current vice mayor, Mumpower is finishing his first term in elected office. In the past, the practicing psychologist served as a member of the Asheville Civic Center Commission.
• Chris Pelly: A local real-estate professional, Pelly made his first run for office in the last Council race and survived the primary. In the general election, however, he wasn’t able to squeak out a win. His strong fourth-place showing (the runner-up in a race for three seats) left many of his supporters looking to 2005. Pelly currently serves as the president of the Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods.
• Selina D. Sullivan: Newcomer Sullivan is entering the political fray for the first time. She works as a public relations/community development director for a local radio station and has served on the Asheville Planning and Zoning Commission.
• Keith Thomson: A systems engineer, Thomson has been no stranger to the Council chamber, frequently attending meetings and voicing his opinion on a wide range of issues. Recently, he sought but did not obtain an appointment to the Asheville City School Board. He has also served as a member of Citizens for Safe Drinking Water and Air.