A mayoral race primer

Four candidates’ names will appear on the ballot for the Oct. 11 primary, and each of them claims to have the best plan for leading the city of Asheville. Here’s a brief look at their respective backgrounds and ideas.

Terry Bellamy: The Asheville native, who is director of marketing and development for Mountain Housing Opportunities, has served on Council since 1999, including two years as vice mayor. An affordable-housing advocate who’s known for her detailed analysis of the budget, Bellamy has earned a reputation as a Council member who can both crunch numbers and raise her voice on behalf of those whose concerns often go unheard. She recently told Xpress that one of her goals as mayor would be to form small working groups of three Council members who could work together on a specific issue in a less-confining environment than the more structured Council work sessions.

She also wants to focus growth in areas of the city that “would benefit from redevelopment, rather than on the farms and forests that surround it.”

Bill Branyon: The author of three books, Branyon first cut his teeth on the local political scene as a reporter for Green Line, the predecessor of Xpress. He currently works for the Comfort Inn River Ridge. Prone to literary allusions and self-deprecating humor, Branyon is striving to bring global issues into the local mayor’s race. Complaining that multinational corporations have a “stranglehold” on the city, Branyon wants to impose a moratorium on nonlocal corporate development in Asheville and promote locally owned businesses. In his own words, Branyon wants to “repoliticize” the city and allow the “people to determine how big we want to get. He also wants to create a “white- and blue-collar workers’ bill of rights” and promote bike trails and alternative transportation.

Joe Dunn: A retired dentist, Dunn is known for what he calls “telling it like it is.” Dunn, whose first term on Council is winding down, says his chief beef is that relations between the city and county are at an all-time low. “When I was elected four years ago, we were suing the county over the ETJ [extraterritorial jurisdiction, a one-mile-wide ring of land just outside the city limits where city zoning laws apply] — now we’re suing them over the Water Agreement. We’ve got to improve relations,” he told Xpress.

Dunn also wants to consolidate duplicated city and county functions, such as the school systems and parks-and-recreation departments. A staunch conservative, he nonetheless emphasizes his ability to form coalitions with Council members across the aisle.

Charles Worley: The current Council’s senior member, Worley has logged nine years in public office (four as mayor). A real-estate attorney, he’s known for his calm demeanor and frequent attempts to serve as peacemaker on a Council often marked by infighting. Worley maintains that he bases his Council votes on “what is best for all of Asheville,” and he says he’s proud of the fact that the city is solvent and sitting on “the largest fund balance — $30 million — it’s ever had.” Another highlight of his first term, says the mayor, is returning the water system to city control. Looking to the future, Worley says he wants to promote economic growth and development while “maintaining Asheville’s unique architecture and quality of life.”

— Brian Sarzynski

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