Occupation: builder, writer and publisher
Party affiliation: Democrat
Political experience: Asheville Precinct 3 Chair; treasurer PARCPAC (federal PAC); candidate for Buncombe Board of Commissioners, 2008; co-founder the Asheville Coalition-2005; co-chair Dean for America (Asheville), 2004; founding member The Progressive Project (now nationwide), 2004; founder Rolling Thunder (Asheville), 2003; co-founder SpareChange? (Asheville), 2003 ; WNC coordinator, Cynthia Brown for U.S. Senate, 2002; 30+ years as active Democrat
Endorsements: Asheville Chapter National Organization for Women, Asheville Fire Fighters Association, Sierra Club
1) How much money have you raised for your campaign? Who are your top three donors, and how much has each contributed?
Total: "A little more than $20,000"
Top three: Mary Fishman, $550; Michael Carlebach, $500; Charlie Thomas $500, John Wilson, $500
2) Do you favor district elections for Council members? Why or why not?
I'm not clear that Asheville is a big enough city to warrant district elections. The fact that many of our politicians are wealthy has sometimes allowed upscale neighborhoods to be overrepresented on Council, but my candidacy is proof that determined working-class challengers can make inroads.
3) What steps, if any, should the city take to deal with graffiti?
Stepped up enforcement efforts make tagging more alluring, so the best answer is rapid removal/cover-up. Graffiti can be seen as personal "advertising" encouraged by our heavily commercial culture, where billboards and banners are available to the wealthy but not to the poor.
4) Do you support the implementation of domestic-partner benefits for city employees? Why or why not?
Yes, it's a matter of simple fairness and equality.
5) Given the city's current and likely upcoming budget shortfalls, how would you make ends meet?
I advocate four-day/40-hour work weeks for city employees (which has cut costs in Buncombe County government); reduced printing, energy use and Council travel. I would seek an increase in the hotel room tax, with the funds dedicated to city infrastructure and education.
6) Which key elements of the Downtown Master Plan, if any, do you want to see implemented in the next year?
We should implement height limits, form-based rules and sustainability guidelines during the building hiatus triggered by the current financial crisis. We should not reduce the responsibility or accountability of Council with regard large projects.
7) What measures, if any, do you support to promote bicycle and mass transit?
We need to prepare our transit system to deal with imminent changes in fuel availability and cost. Sidewalks and bike lanes should be continuous and connected to transit stops. I support the proposed Transit Master Plan including more frequent rush-hour service.
8) How much of a role, compared to its current one, should the city play in putting on festivals?
In tight economic times we should reduce support for festivals. Schools, transit, police and fire protection are all much more important than provision of free festivals. If the choice is between bread and circuses, I'd favor bread.
9) Which sitting member of City Council are you most like politically, and which do you differ the most with?
I am most like Carl Mumpower, in that I am unafraid to be clear on where I stand. I am also most different from Carl Mumpower, in that I offer hope for meaningful community collaboration and plans for positive change instead of divisiveness and fear-mongering.
10) What should Asheville's policy be regarding forced annexation of surrounding areas?
Since the Sullivan Acts force us to provide city water rates to nonresidents, that's a strong indication that the state thinks that we should be incorporating nearby areas. However, the only forced annexation I unequivocally support is of the Biltmore Estate, which claims but refuses to join Asheville.