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.