Occupation: Asheville City Council member and executive vice president, Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce
Party affiliation: Democrat
Political experience: appointed to City Council in 2008; numerous lobbying trips to Raleigh and D.C.; successfully lobbied to increase county's occupancy tax by one cent in 2001 to help fund nearly $100 Million in community projects, worked for Alaska Legislature in early 1980s, and on Alaska Gov. Cowper's successful 1986 campaign
Endorsements: Vice Mayor Jan Davis, Mack Pearsall, Wilma Sherrill, Asheville Fire Fighters Association, Kim MacQueen, Mark Hunt, John Cram, Jim Samsel, John Rogers, Sheriff Van Duncan, Pam Myers, Ruth Summers, Bob Patel and Byron Greiner
1) How much money have you raised for your campaign? Who are your top three donors, and how much has each contributed?
Total: "Approximately $22,000"
Top three: Mack Pearsall $1,000; Thomas Pearsall $1,000; several $500 supporters including Guy Clerici
2) Do you favor district elections for Council members? Why or why not?
I support the existing election system. I believe responsible leadership on Council requires us to fully understand every neighborhood's challenges, as well as how our public policy and budget decisions affect every Asheville citizen, regardless of where a citizen resides.
3) What steps, if any, should the city take to deal with graffiti?
I helped champion Council's efforts to proactively deal with graffiti vandalism, leading to establishing the first nuisance court and an affordable graffiti removal team. We've purchased new technology to help catch graffiti vandals. We must strive to be graffiti free; one building, one block, one neighborhood at a time.
4) Do you support the implementation of domestic-partner benefits for city employees? Why or why not?
Yes. Over 8,000 private companies, including 270 of the Fortune 500 companies, like Kodak and Prudential, currently offer domestic partner benefits. It is part of a competitive benefits package with little or no additional premium cost and will provide our city with a great recruitment and retention tool.
5) Given the city's current and likely upcoming budget shortfalls, how would you make ends meet?
City Finance Director Ben Durant and his team do an outstanding job. As a member of the city's finance committee, I would advocate for the same transparent 2008-09 approach: No property tax increase, prioritize services and work closely with staff to recommend necessary cuts without adversely affecting levels of service.
6) Which key elements of the Downtown Master Plan, if any, do you want to see implemented in the next year?
I served on the DMP task force and helped pass the plan by Council in May. My two DMP priorities for 2009-2010 include modifications to the development review process and changes pertaining to the actual design related standards via UDO modifications.
7) What measures, if any, do you support to promote bicycle and mass transit?
Approving the forthcoming Transit Master Plan that strategically addresses our multi-modal needs is priority #1. Second, we should seek long term funding solutions to implement this vital plan aimed at connecting all of Asheville in an environmentally friendly manner. Third, increase our greenways funding that supports multimodal infrastructure.
8) How much of a role, compared to its current one, should the city play in putting on festivals?
I support partnering with festivals that have historically proven their worth such as Shindig and Downtown After Five. I am advocating for a simpler and less costly permitting process that is easier for festival organizers to understand and afford.
9) Which sitting member of City Council are you most like politically, and which do you differ the most with?
It truly does depend on the issue. I've made hundreds of votes since my December 2008 Council appointment, aligning most often with the 6-1 majority.
10) What should Asheville's policy be regarding forced annexation of surrounding areas?
I support voluntary annexation that offers non-Asheville residents living in Buncombe County an opportunity to vote on proposed annexations. We must clearly articulate to potential residents the city benefits and let the people decide if becoming part of Asheville is their desire.