Name: Chris Pelly
Occupation: Real estate broker, Keller Williams Professionals
Party affiliation: Lifelong Democrat
Political experience: 12 years as president of Haw Creek Community Association; former president, Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods; candidate for Asheville City Council in 2003 and 2005.
Endorsements: Former Mayor Leni Sitnick, Councilman Cecil Bothwell, Sierra Club and PARC
1) How much money have you raised for your campaign?
To date about $11,000.
Who are your top three donors, and how much has each contributed?
Laura and Charlie Thomas – $2,000
Bob and Martha Pierce – $1,000
Four others – $500 each
2) What most distinguishes you from your opponents?
A record of accomplishment addressing a range of growth and development issues, including: Haw Creek Park, Masters Park, Haw Creek Historic Trail, sidewalks on Tunnel Road and the Staples campaign to demand compliance with the sign ordinance. I am a pragmatic progressive who gets things done.
3) What other two Council candidates will you vote for? Why?
4) What specific steps will you take to address Asheville's lack of affordable housing?
I support consideration of a pilot voucher system to allow residents of public housing to choose other housing options. I support City Council providing incentives to increase affordable-housing options, particularly along transit corridors. I support a home energy-efficiency program for middle-income homeowners.
5) Do you favor the use of tax exemptions and incentives to promote job growth (e.g., the recent Linamar deal)?
No. It is an inherently unfair system which penalizes existing local businesses and rewards vulture capitalism. Thermo Fisher of Weaverville [is] adding 110 jobs paying … about the same rate Linamar will offer. They did not demand any "incentives." It's better to use our limited resources to support A-B Tech.
6) Do you support the changes implemented by the Downtown Master Plan, such as raising the threshold for direct Council review of proposed developments?
I support much of the DMP. … I have a concern about passing off to an unelected body, the Planning and Zoning Commission, the right to approve buildings up to 175,000 square feet. I hope to be proven wrong but believe this decision will come back to haunt City Council.
7) What's your position on proposed legislation in Raleigh to study the possible seizure of Asheville's water system?
Asheville's water system is owned by its citizens. While recognizing state legislation could seek to usurp the city of Asheville and seize this irreplaceable asset, I will work creatively and tirelessly to prevent any such action.
8) Does Asheville require more infrastructure? If so, what are your priorities and how do you propose to fund them?
Residents want sidewalks, and I aim to deliver. As I did in east Asheville, I will leverage participation with the NCDOT to address sidewalk needs on state-maintained roads. For city roads, I will [work] to give voters the chance to support a specific, detailed bond referendum targeting resident-identified sidewalk needs.
9) A recent study named the Asheville metro area the seventh worst in the nation in terms of food hardship. How do you propose to tackle poverty in the city of Asheville?
With so many poverty issues interrelated, food security is a fundamental need. City Council can help via support for churches and other front-line nonprofit service providers. This might mean making available unused office or warehouse space, publicity services through the Neighborhood Coordinator position, or directing staff or other resources.
10) In light of the controversies surrounding the APD and the Human Resources Department, do you believe city government operations require closer scrutiny? If so, what steps do you favor?
The APD can enhance the safety of vulnerable communities by appointing a liaison officer: someone safe to call. Ongoing education of APD officers on cultural issues such as hate crimes should [emphasize] care and caution … in [how] we speak about each other: Hateful language can lead to hateful actions.