Candidate: Bill Russell

Political party: Republican
Occupation: Business owner (State Farm Insurance & Financial Services agency)
Education: B.A. business and marketing, Marshall University
Political experience: None
Donors (top 3): N.C. Realtors PAC $2,400; Stewart Coleman $1,000; Steven Duncan $700
Endorsements: None solicited

1) What are the best and worst steps City Council has taken in the past two years, and why?
“To address vagrancy and homelessness issues in downtown, although no action or improvement has resulted.”
Worst: “The vote by four members to go back to partisan elections.”

2) What plan(s) do you support for the I-26 Connector project, and why?
“I like the Design Center plan and support any plan that will have balance and support between community and DOT requirements. We have to get moving immediately. Delays are causing traffic congestion, accidents, and idling cars are not environmentally friendly.”

3) What, if anything, should the city do to improve mass transit?
“Look to create a more vibrant central business district and encourage employment growth and job opportunities downtown. I feel mass transit works best when you have “masses” that need to get between home, work and other service entities. Not sprawl, but centralized growth will encourage and improve mass transit.”

4) What specific measures, if any, should the city take to address environmental concerns?
“Move forward with I-26; it’s been proposed for over a decade with no action. I feel idling cars are our No. 1 environmental polluter. Also, I like the idea of tax incentives or lower fees for green development within the city of Asheville to developers and individual property owners.”

5) What’s your position on partisan elections?
“Let Asheville Vote! I am for nonpartisan elections and feel the results of the referendum will also reflect that position. I was not impressed with the decision, timing or excuses used by those who supported the change.”

6) As a member of City Council, what would be your top three priorities?
“Fiscally responsible city government (lower taxes); smart growth and development (focusing on “growing up” where we can); creating a strong economic climate (to attract more good-paying, middle-income jobs and business opportunities to help out Middle America in Asheville).”

7) What living national political figure do you most admire, and why?
“Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. They are hilarious and bring out the true nature of our current … politics. [Both parties’] double talk and two-sided positioning is ridiculous. We all have a lot more in common that can bring us together, compared to focusing on [what] divides us.”

8) Under what circumstances, if any, would you support forced annexation?
“I don’t support forced annexation without community support. It just doesn’t seem right, especially when the target areas are self-sufficient and won’t benefit from city services. I think working up front with voluntary annexation for new development on our borders makes more sense.”

9) What steps, if any, do you support to promote affordable housing in Asheville?
“I propose an entire corridor of affordable and work-force housing along with mixed-use development on South Charlotte Street on the city-owned property. Affordable housing in the heart of downtown is not cost-effective with the high price of land. Our city needs to get actively involved and do more.”

10) Would you vote for or against The Ellington high-rise project, and why?
“For. They’ve followed the rules and have unanimous approval and support from all the groups and organizations leading up to City Council. I feel the majority of downtown business owners support it. To go against all those steps that were formed to control and encourage quality development doesn’t make sense.”

 

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