Mark Cates

Name: Mark Cates
Occupation: Aerospace engineer/small-business consultant/entrepreneur
Party affiliation, if any: Republican
Political experience: Class president, Landon Junior High School, class of ’84
Endorsements: Thomas Smith, president, WNC Cornhole Players Association.

1) How much money have you raised for your campaign? Who are your top three donors, and how much has each contributed?

Why just top three? Every donation is equally important. My campaign's entire financial information is public and available at the N.C. Board of Elections website.

2) What most distinguishes you from your opponents?

I've put my detailed ideas on the chopping block of public opinion. My campaign is centered upon ideas. I've authored the only plan that protects, preserves and promotes Asheville's culture and local independent businesses with the vision of making our city into the center of global environmentalism.

3) What other two Council candidates will you vote for? Why?

After reading my economic vision last week, only one candidate reached out to me in a genuine way to express his support for my ideas while expressing his regret that I was excluded from a recent candidate forum simply because of my party affiliation. I respect his integrity.

4) What specific steps will you take to address Asheville's lack of affordable housing?

The solution is twofold: 1) putting the more than 17,000 unemployed in our area into quality jobs and 2) steering earmarked or allocated affordable-housing dollars toward placing people into existing homes. This will decrease the need for new home construction — thereby curbing emissions — and slow urban sprawl.

5) Do you favor the use of tax exemptions and incentives to promote job growth (e.g., the recent Linamar deal)?

I support the vote by Council members Jan Davis, Brownie Newman, Bill Russell, Gordon Smith and Mayor Bellamy in support of the Linamar deal, but any future use of this mechanism should be in support of environmental and conservationist organizations.

6) Do you support the changes implemented by the Downtown Master Plan, such as raising the threshold for direct Council review of proposed developments?

According to City Manager Gary Jackson, the combined cost of all our master plans is nearly $200 million. Therefore, any support for changes from any master plan should only be approved when the plan can be paid for. City Council is ultimately accountable for all implementations of each master plan.

7) What’s your position on proposed legislation in Raleigh to study the possible seizure of Asheville's water system?

Our water should be controlled locally, period. We have some of the nation's purest water, but our historically poor relationship with Raleigh has culminated in a failing infrastructure. As an Asheville Republican, I am uniquely qualified to create a bridge to Raleigh to resolve issues like this permanently.

8) Does Asheville require more infrastructure? If so, what are your priorities and how do you propose to fund them?

There's no question: Our failing water infrastructure puts our future generations at risk. Developmental problems from unclean water, or students being prohibited from drinking water at school, is an embarrassment for Asheville. My economic vision for Asheville includes a funding mechanism for infrastructure projects.

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?

I agree with FDR, who said: "True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made." So let's get people back to work. Hunger is tied to one's ability to pay for food.

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?

There is nothing wrong with periodic review of all city services. In fact, it is the hallmark of many cities. But overall, the APD does a strong job of keeping us safe, as evidenced by our lower crime index compared to neighboring Greenville and Charlotte.


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21 thoughts on “Mark Cates

  1. Barry Summers

    Mr. Cates: under ‘political experience’, why do you omit the fact that until very recently, you were the treasurer for the Asheville Tea Party?

    • Fritz Chaleff

      Barry, it’s because he wasn’t. In other comments, Mark Cates refers to his Economic and Environmental Development of Asheville vision. Have you read it? If not, here’s a link:

      Why don’t you read it and respond in the comments about what you like and don’t like about the Cates plan? You could be the one to start the debate of ideas in this campaign, and I think everyone would benefit from talking about growing our economy in a sustainable manner that protects our culture and our local independent businesses.

  2. reasonable

    Once again, thank you, Mark Cates, for answering the posed questions succinctly and with actionable solutions that any common sense and, ahem, reasonable, person can and should agree with.

    Barry, I’m quite sure you’re a rational, thinking man. What’s your beef?

  3. Dionysis

    “Mr. Cates: under ‘political experience’, why do you omit the fact that until very recently, you were the treasurer for the Asheville Tea Party?”

    “Barry, it’s because he wasn’t.”

    Weasely, but true. In fact, Mr. Cates, in an article published in the Asheville Daily Planet, identified himself as:

    Mark W. Cates
    Asheville Tea PAC

    Now quite trying to look behind the curtain!

  4. Barry Summers

    Yes, yes, Fritz. I know. “Cates is running on ideas, not partisanship”. Nice PR.

    You’re here ‘messaging’ for him because the party that Mr. Cates belongs to is hugely unpopular here. I get it. But you didn’t come onboard the campaign early enough – we know that Mr. Cates considers Asheville “enemy territory”. We are entitled to explore who he is and what he believes in before we delve into his proposal – which yes, I have read every word of it. Not impressed.

    • Fritz Chaleff


      Mark Cates isn’t the reason I came to Asheville, but he is why I’m here now. He has great ideas, and while I appreciate you taking the time to try and figure out my professional background, it’s really immaterial. Mark is the one who is running.

      But rather than just saying you’re not impressed, why don’t you share with the community what doesn’t impress you about his plan? Your posts are intelligently written, so I know you have the ability to think critically about the plan. And, you’re being engaged on ideas here, not partisanship. Again, Mark is running on ideas, and he’s still the only candidate who has put himself out there. I think Asheville would love it if the other candidates took the time to actually state how they think we can grow our economy, yet still protect our culture and our local independent businesses. In fact, I’d personally like to see them post their ideas, like Mark Cates has already done. But since they haven’t, Mark Cates’ plan is the only vision for our future that voters have to go on.

      Barry, you and I both know that the only way to prove to all politicians, no matter if they’re Democrats, Republicans, progressives, conservatives, or otherwise, that we deserve and expect more than just political statements and partisanship is to use honest debate about actual ideas. It’s the people like you and I, and everyone else who isn’t running for office, to elevate the discussion beyond the party labels and either support, or not support, the actual ideas… and to explain why. Otherwise, we’re just telling the folks in Washington, Raleigh and here in Asheville that we endorse the bickering, and that they should just keep up sniping at each other. I don’t want that. I don’t think you want that. So let’s start here. What do you like, or don’t like, about the plan?

  5. Barry Summers

    BTW, Mr. Chaleff – did you really move down here from DC just to run Mark Cates City Council campaign? He couldn’t find anyone local?

    • Fritz Chaleff

      Just clarifying, I was already living in Asheville.

      Not waiting for the clarification before posting that Mark was unable to do something is dishonest debate. Again, let’s move the debate forward.

      Now that we’re past that, what specifically did you like or not like about his plan?

      For readers who are just joining the comments, what we’re talking about is the Economic and Environmental Development of Asheville, NC, a plan for Asheville’s future economy that protects, preserves and promotes our local and unique culture. It was written by Mark Cates who is running for Asheville’s city council. You can read it at

  6. Dionysis

    “He couldn’t find anyone local?”

    It’s hard to do in the middle of enemy territory.

  7. Barry Summers

    you’re being engaged on ideas here, not partisanship

    As you and the campaign materials keep saying, yes. But there’s no erasing the fact that Mr. Cates kicked off his campaign in the most partisan manner possible (“enemy territory… strike a blow from the inside…”).

    That, together with his involvement at the Asheville Tea Party (“you say bookkeeper, I say treasurer, let’s call the whole thing off…”), and his “Republicans are victims” speech above, tells me that Mr. Cates is hyper-partisan. Everything I consider about his candidacy is filtered through that lens. Your current emphasis on “ideas vs. partisanship” is a thin but necessary fiction to change the subject.

    Sorry that I’m not willing to pivot along with you to his proposal, which I’ll admit is a useful bit of campaign strategy, but little more than that. Honestly, the way a candidate presents himself sometimes makes analyzing his proposals unnecessary. This is one of those times, at least for me.

    Good luck.

  8. Barry Summers

    C’mon, Fritz. A wise man once said,

    Fritz: The other thing is for clients to understand the difference between the story and how it’s pitched. We had a client who shot themselves in the foot by not allowing us to let the media ask them about a particularly hot topic – it’s got to be about what the public wants, not what you necessarily want to say.

    We want to know what “strike a blow from the inside” really means.

  9. Barry Summers

    BTW, Fritz – just for context, maybe you should know why folks around here might react badly when we find that Mr. Cates worked with the local Tea Party:

    “The parallels between Hitler’s rise to power and the emergence of Obama are so, so similar.

    “Remember that the German people said they were not aware…does this sound like many of the former party called Democrats, now ruled by their Communist/Socialist/Progressive dictators?

    “Can you even find any folks that call themselves Democrats that will even discuss the issues?

    “Yes, It is happening here!!!!”

    There’s no ‘discussing the issues’ with crazy people. This is the group that your candidate worked with very recently. You have my sympathies trying to distract us from that…

    • Fritz Chaleff


      Thanks for the wishes for luck on the campaign. Mark has been great about talking with the media about ending partisanship in Asheville. In fact, Mark is enthusiastic about working with all groups, Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, progressives, etc. If you’ve been to any of the candidate forums, you’ll know he’s first and foremost about helping the economy and bringing quality jobs to our region–and making sure that Asheville is able to preserve the great culture that exists here. Asheville has 8.4% unemployment, and Mark Cates is the only candidate with a vision on how to change that and get people back to work. That’s why it’s so important to discuss the issues.

      If ever you do want to discuss the plan, just let me know. I’d be happy to talk with you about it, and maybe you’ll find that we all have some common ground about how to help Asheville. And Barry, I’m serious about that. Let’s go grab a drink together. How does Friday after work sound? Or, when is good for you?

  10. Barry Summers

    Why does every dang Republican City Council campaign manager in this town want to drink with me?

    Dude, thanks for the invite – but as Michael Muller discovered, I’m not even a City resident…

    And I’ll have to take your unbiased word for how great Mark has been in talking to the media about how he wants us to believe he wants to end partisanship.

    I hear he has passed on at least one interview – the AshevilleFM News Hour really wants to hear how Mark wants to end partisanship. Can you work on the candidate to squeeze them in? (I am not affiliated, BTW.)

    Thanks again for the drink invite – we’ll see…

    • Fritz Chaleff


      No worries! I always like to have the opportunity to talk with someone who has different opinions, no matter the geographical location. It’s really the best way to find common ground.

      I’ll look forward to when we can set that up.

      Have a great rest of your day.


    • Fritz Chaleff


      I checked into the AshevilleFM interview. It was never a pass. Mark is looking forward to doing the interview, but the proposed time didn’t work. Scheduling conflicts happen. I’m sure the interview will take place once the scheduling issue is resolved.


  11. D. Dial

    My goodness Mr. Chaleff, you say what you think we want to hear..but avoid the very important questions above. I s’pose y’all are thinkin’ us’uns down heah in Appalachia aren’t savvy to the ways of those durn ole spinmeister…us’uns being just off the turnip truck and all.

  12. Barry Summers

    My goodness Mr. Chaleff, you say what you think we want to hear..

    Hey Lurlene, lay off my new best buddy. He’s got a real purty mouth… We gonna call him the “Lib’ral Whisperer”.

  13. I’ve read Mr. Cates thoughtful plan and basically he wants to reinvent the wheels that are already in motion and have been for several years.

    He really hasn’t paid much attention to what government is currently doing here, and seems to think that non one else ever thought of his “brilliant” ideas before.

    Try these on for size (in no particular order): GetThereAsheville, Asheville PARC, WNC Alliance, Land of Sky Regional Council, Advantage West, Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods, Mountain Voices Alliance, the HUB project, CIBO, the Asheville-Buncombe Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Council, the economic development departments of City and County, the A-B Tech Business Incubator, Mountain BizWorks, Self-Help Credit Union, Mountain Housing Opportunities. I could go on, but I’m not as long-winded as Cates.

    I’m impressed that he plans to hire 17,000 people. He must have VERY deep pockets.

  14. shadmarsh

    Cates has never voted in a municipal election in Asheville, yet he wants to be on council. I just don’t get that.

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