And then there were 15: Asheville Council field shapes up

As the new, nonpartisan filing deadline passed at noon on Aug. 20, Asheville citizens finally got a firm idea of who will be running for City Council.

By the deadline, every Democrat, Republican and third-party or unaffiliated candidate who had previously filed or declared their candidacy threw their hat back in the ring, with one exception. In addition, three new candidates have joined the race (see profiles below).

The one exception was Libertarian blogger and activist Tim Peck, who had previously declared his intent to run, but said he decided differently by the deadline. “I will be devoting my time to the Ron Paul 2008 Presidential Campaign,” Peck told Xpress. “Also, the field of Council candidates is fairly broad now, and I feel confident that Asheville voters will get the government that they deserve.”

The candidates are vying for three seats held by incumbents Jan Davis, Bryan Freeborn and Brownie Newman, who are all running for re-election. The field will be narrowed to six final candidates in the primary election on Oct. 9.

That leaves the remaining 12 candidates as follows: Donna Bateman, Steve Bledsoe, Dwight Butner, Christopher Chiaromonte, Matthew Hebb, Bobby Johnston, Elaine Lite, William C. Meredith, Bill Russell, Lindsey Simerly, Selina D. Sullivan and Dee Williams.

Candidates who had filed previously have already been profiled by Xpress. Bateman, Bledsoe and Meredith had not declared their candidacies before, so here are their details, in their own words.

Name: Donna Bateman
Age: 67
Occupation: Retired benefits manager, National Maritime Union
Party affiliation (if any): Democrat
Family: None
Education: “Year and a half of college.”
Civic experience: None
Web site/e-mail: “None. If people need to contact me, they can call 252-2988.”
Comments: “I hope to make a difference for the elderly, the handicapped, and the one-parent families. The streets have got to be safer for the elderly to walk on. The streets are in bad shape and we need ramps for the handicapped. I’m the only one running for Council [who’s] in a wheelchair.”

Name: Steve Bledsoe
Age: 54
Occupation: Retired from manufacturing, engineering and management
Party affiliation (if any): None
Family: Single
Education: B.S., Engineering, Auburn University; Master of Business Administration, University of South Carolina
Civic experience: None
Web site/e-mail: No campaign Web site
Comments: “Currently I do not see the leadership and actions from City Council that I think our city needs. Issues seem to be discussed more on an emotional basis and not on facts and details. There is a lot of talk but not a lot of true actions. I feel that with my background and experience as an engineer and a business manager, I can help move things in a more productive direction.

Some key areas of concern to me: We need to balance the needs to ensure a positive quality of life here in Asheville with the needs for future growth and development. We need to ensure that affordable housing is available to those who need it. We need to address the homelessness problems we have downtown. The water war with Buncombe County needs to be resolved and quit wasting tax money on lawyers. We need to look at consolidation where services are duplicated, such as two school districts.”

Name: William C. Meredith
Age: 38
Occupation: Contractor
Party affiliation (if any): Libertarian
Family: 13-year-old daughter, Michaela
Education: Environmental Studies and Civil Engineering, UNCA; Army Corps of Engineers
Civic experience: Four years, Libertarian Executive Committee; member, libertarian reform caucus; long-time advocate for alternative energy
Web site/e-mail: No campaign Web site
Comments: “I joined the army in 1987 and served three years as a combat engineer. When I got out, I went to UNCA to study civil engineering. I spent several years as a welder, working both in factories and as a small-business owner. I currently own a labor-providing service, Beau Co., in Asheville for the last 10 years.

I’m running as a Libertarian. I feel that the sovereignty of the individual’s rights needs to be the first and foremost consideration of any governing body. Asheville needs greater transparency in its government and greater access to the individual so that we can make our government work for us instead of us working for the government.

We have serious issues with our water and power. City Council has failed over the last 20 years to address these issues. As a small-business owner, I know how it’s getting tougher and tougher to make a living in Asheville.”


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