Who’ll make the cut?

From a colorful, itinerant street preacher to a highly successful insurance agent, the 15 candidates for Asheville City Council run the gamut of ideologies and personalities. But then, what would you expect in a diverse city that’s facing a pile of pressing issues?

This year’s crop of candidates are young and old, male and female, black and white, affluent and not. For many, it’s their first foray into electoral politics. But to hear them talk, they all have at least a few things in common: a love of Asheville, a desire to help shape its future—and a need to win the support of a sufficient number of the city’s roughly 57,000 registered voters in the nonpartisan Oct. 9 primary.

To help our readers make up their minds, Xpress asked all 15 candidates some hard questions about key issues facing the city, including their stances on annexation, affordable housing, the environment, the Interstate 26 Connector and mass transit. Among the more controversial issues covered are The Ellington, a 23-story high-rise proposed for downtown, and the move to switch to partisan city elections.

The top six vote-getters in the primary will proceed to the Nov. 6 general election, where they’ll vie for the three seats currently held by Jan Davis, Bryan Freeborn and Brownie Newman. Freeborn, who was appointed to fill the vacant City Council seat of Mayor Terry Bellamy, is seeking his first electoral victory.

If you haven’t yet registered to vote, you’re out of luck as far as the primary is concerned, but there’s still plenty of time to register to vote in November. The deadline is Friday, Oct. 12 (25 days before the election). Eligible residents can also take advantage of one-stop absentee voting through Oct. 6.

See you at the polls Oct. 9.

Click on the images below to view Q&A responses from each candidate.

For details about the municipal-election process, visit the Buncombe County Election Services Web site at www.buncombecounty.org/governing/depts/Election/


Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

24 thoughts on “Who’ll make the cut?

  1. anonners

    I was surprised how unprepared Elaine Lite sounded on Tuesday’s Matt Mittan show. Discuss.

  2. Gordon Smith

    anonners, a.k.a bobaloo,

    I listened to Elaine Lite on the Matt Mittan show and found her thoughtful, respectful, and thorough. I’ve been surprised to find that this is the third blog at which I’ve found your comment.

    Spin much?

  3. anonners


    Since you’re so confused — I posted the initial comment above on the MX site. Someone else (“bobaloo”) posted a similar comment on an Ashvegas posting. You then accused “bobaloo” of being me, then came back over here and accused me of being “bobaloo” (and someone on a third blog?).

    Talk about spin — if people share the same observation about Elaine Lite that is short of deifying her, you run around on all the blogs and dress it up like it’s the same single person smearing her?

    Is it totally blowing your blog mind that more than one person thinks that Elaine Lite sounded completely out of her element on the Matt Mittan interview (interview link at bottom of post)? Have you heard it? It was incredibly awkward. You might, in fact, be the only dissenter in that matter. That makes it easy for you to keep count on yourself, at least.

    Any objective person can listen to that interview and hear a person grasping, and not finding, simple responses to some very easy questions — questions that Mittan even let her preview before the interview.

    I know you’re a big supporter of Elaine Lite, and I think partially because of the support network and organization that she has, I really expected her to have a firm grasp on some very basic city issues, other than “no development.”

    You made, ironically, a similar comment on Ashvegas ( “I’ve been surprised to find that this is the third blog at which I’ve found your comment”) when “bobaloo” posted a similar sentiment, and I’m surprised that you of all people would say that.

    Let’s say I did post that here, and the same sentiment on another blog (which I didn’t), so what? All I see are your sentiments on half the posts and comment threads in cyber-Asheville, including the Citizen-Times free-for-all forum. What’s the difference?

    Didn’t realize the rules were different for you. So, basically you can shotgun your beliefs out on your own blog postings, Blogasheville postings, and every comment thread in town, but if you suspect the same person is sharing their beliefs on two different blogs, you’re going to “call them on it”?

    If there were many similar comments under different names on the SAME forum, naturally everyone assumes some of that is from the same person. But these were three (according to your count) comments from at least two different people (I can only speak for myself) on three different blogs. Has it been that slow a day for the Sheriff of Blogville? Easy, pardner!

    In theory, are you only allowing me to post one thought on one single web site, and then I’m not allowed, if I wanted to, to bring up the same issue on another? Under what reasoning? You’re the only one who gets to throw his weight around, as King Blogger?

    I’ve actually been surprised at how little people have commented yet on the candidate profiles on the MX site. I thought there would be more discussion on Wednesday.

    By the time I discovered “bobaloo” shared my same belief about Lite’s performance in the interview on an Ashvegas thread, you were already on that thread accusing them of being the person who wrote the first comment on this thread! You really like to encourage discussion, don’t you?


    AND YOU trotted out the same “I found Elaine Lite to be thoughtful, respectful, and thorough” line on that thread, just like you did here. So, do you “spin much”?

    (Thanks for outing the author of the “Not Thomas Wolfe” blog, btw! Good riddance to that voice, huh? Also, congratulations and more accolades are in order for your big “coming out as Gordon” ceremony. What else could you do, though, after painting yourself into a hypocritical corner by trying to drag another unnamed blogger’s identity out into the open while you yourself were still anonymous, but still, congratulations!)

    For the record, to help you with your blog investigations, I won’t be anywhere near a computer for the week or so, so if anyone else doesn’t find Elaine’s answers to be “thoughtful… and thorough,” you might consider that there is more than one person in town who occasionally disagrees with you.

    I appreciate all you’ve done for the local blogging community, but I think it’s BS for you to tell others when, where, and how they can post their beliefs.

    I’ll tell you what — here’s the link to the interview, and people can make up their own minds. Listen to the whole thing. You or whoever else can have the last word on all of this, my vacation just started —

    Link to Matt Mittan interview of Elaine Lite:

  4. Bobaloo

    Uh, no, that wasn’t me. Honestly, I’m not afraid to post under the same name and I’m no sock puppet. I did post at Scrutiny Hooligans and Ashvegas. But the above wasn’t me. Do you think it’s possible that others may have felt the same?
    None the less, when I asked the same question at SH, I got no response at all. While I respect Lite’s environmental positions, she seems to be a single issue candidate and can’t speak to other issues at all.

  5. lokel

    City Council Candidate Selina Sullivan was arrested on Wednesday night for writing a worthless check!

    Sounds like more of the same for the Republicans!

    Wonder what the Stompers think of this.

    I would rather have a Council member like Elaine Lite walking around a tree with pagans, than one who is an “accountant” like Ms. Sullivan with her hand in the cookie jar!

    A cookie jar that was apparently empty.

  6. Adrienne

    Well said Annoners! Thanks for writing. I discovered these comments after reading the MX article on the candidates. I do not frequent blogs but have looked at several mentioned here. It is interesting to see how the various groups are trying to spin Ms. Lite. All I have heard in conversation in the community is that she is uninformed about the issues, not very thoughtful, and has only one issue which is a construction mortatorium. For many of us, there are many more important community issues than this issue. We are worried about children’s health, our schools, poverty and racism, among other things.

    I have listened to the interview by following the link you posted. It was very disappointing. I do not believe I have ever heard such a weak performance by a candidate in Asheville. I would have thought that Ms. Lite would have taken the time to study the issues prior to deciding to run for office.

    We have to remember that we are paying and employing these folks when we vote for them to be in public office. I do not believe that Ms. Lite has demonstrated that she has what it takes to be employed in this position.

    Some of the blogs you referenced that are positioning themselves as political blogs seem more to be a forum for a local clique of friends with Mr. Smith presiding.

    Dynamic public debate doesn’t take place in forums like that. And accusations don’t encourage public debate. Also, there seems to be a type of censoring going on. I would strongly object to that. Let these forums permit free speech and focus on the issues rather than accusing people of trying to spin each other.

  7. Jake

    After reading this article I am certain that there are 15 candidates for City Council. Considering the breadth of the field, I am intrigued about this focus on one candidate. I find it interesting, too, that ‘annoners’ has attempted to launch such a narrow thread without providing anything to back up his perception (“I was surprised how unprepared Elaine Lite sounded…”). It looks to me as if ‘anonners’ feels particularly threatened by Ms Lite’s candidacy, but for the life of me cannot understand why that should be the case.

  8. Bobaloo

    I’m not really speaking to what annoners said, but if you’ll check out the thread at scrutiny hooligans:

    I run down my exact problem with Lite’s performance on Take A Stand. Personally, I’m not threatened by her candidacy, but with the politics of Brownie and Friends it feels to me like she’s a shoe-in simply based on association. I just wanted folks to really analyze what her knowledge base is.

  9. Gordon Smith

    Bob, Annoners,

    My bad. You two sounded so much alike that I made an assumption.

    Anyway, anonners, that was one long comment! I’m not disallowing anything. How could I even do that? This “cry victim” mentality that’s pervading the culture right now is very strange. It basically says that if I disagree with you that I’m somehow trying to silence you. That’s absurd. Who will stop you from talking? Not me.

    You’re no victim, and I’m no persecuter. Thanks for taking the time to air your earnest opinions.

  10. Rob Close

    you don’t know why he feels threatened by elaine’s campaign, Jake? well, he must believe that she has a serious shot at winning. It is her name next to 2 incumbents in the DFA add in the MX this week. It was her that got 2 pages in last 2 weeks covering one of her ideas (did anyone get that coverage from MX? no, they told candidates that individual interviews would have to wait ’til after primary. David Forbes at least covered other candidates opinions though, I’ll give him credit for that [unlike “city blasts race report”, but i digress] . But the story probably should have been held back a couple weeks). And finally, look at the letters the MX chose to print this week. FIVE of them were pro-elaine. One was short and against. Only brownie & bryan even got mentioned besides Elaine.

    I really like the MX, but am I wrong to scream “journalistic bias!” here?

    P.S. – Partisan Elections = Power-Grab. Until they apologize for trying to take advantage of our democracy, Brownie & Bryan shouldn’t be allowed to call themselves progressives. It disgusts me. Response?

  11. Jon Elliston


    I can speak to Xpress’ decisions on this matter, and yes, you are wrong to “scream ‘journalistic bias’ here.”

    We chose to do the story on the candidate’s proposal to ban or limit chain stores because of the news value: This is definately a wedge issue about which people hold strong opinions — pro, con and in-between — so it seemed a natural choice for a story. In addition, we made sure to get every candidate’s opinion on this important question into the article and sidebar.

    As for your suggestion that Xpress “told candidates that individual interviews would have to wait ‘til after primary,” that’s not the case. We reserve the right to interview anyone who will talk to us whenever we think we can churn up useful information for our readers.

    You also suggest that there was a bias in the selection of letters to the editor. Again, not the case: Those are not the letters we CHOSE to publish — those are the letters that were submitted to us. If you or anyone else had submitted letters supporting other candidates, as long as they met our length and other criteria (none of which involve politics), we would have published those as well.

    All that said, thanks much for reading and responding.

    Jon Elliston
    Managing Editor

  12. Rob Close


    Thank you for your quick response.

    I hope you understand my shock that so few campaign’s put effort into writing in, especially for your last week pre-primary. Regardless of my surprise, I do believe you. And maybe I’m thinking of the C-T having that “no interviews ’til post-primary” blanket-rule, but it’s certainly a neutral rule I would respect. (yet I’ll [ironically] stand by my quote in that Lite article calling her blanket rule “knee-jerk reactionism”. apples & oranges.)

    The real lesson here? Write letters in, people! You’ve heard the man, they’ll publish them!

    ~ Rob Close
    Independent Devil’s Advocate, Truth-Seeker, Occasional Jerk.

  13. theDonald

    Don,t you see, a Liberal Power Grab would serve the best interests of those of us enlightened enough to live in Asheville.

    Then we can all reduce our Carbon Footprint by powering our fancy new lightbulbs with coal while we fly around the city in hydrogen/hybrid hover-cars in the downtown that is run exclusively by women-in-business who sell only locally sourced, locally-produced goods to us that we purchase with our local asheville currency.

    A power-grab is our only means of reaching this state of nirvana before it’s too late.!!!

  14. Jake

    Hey, tD, keep the dollar (however diminished by W & Co.) as the medium of exchange, and I can live with that scenario. It beats the alternative being promoted by the real estate and development interests that have contributed so heavily to some city council candidates’ campaigns.

  15. John Warren

    Having read the candidate answers in both the mountainx and the AC-T, I can only conclude that Freeborn and Newman are the only two that have a clue about what is going on. They clearly have a handle on all of the issues and offer a balanced approach. Some have called them socialists, but those people want to destroy our city and country. I am voting for only Freeborn and Newman.

  16. Appaholic

    I find it hypocritical that an organization titled “Democracy For Amerca” would endorse two candidates who tried to limit the democratic process. I hope all registered voters will turn out to partake in the process Tuesday. It is my sincere wish that those same voters will remember who tried to limit their choices with their support of partisan elections. We can’t have “Democracy For America” if we disenfrachise people from the democratic process.

  17. Rob Close


    “but those people want to destroy our city and country.” – What do you base this on?

    Also, what do you base Freeborn having a clue over? Was there something he did in the past year and a half that really showed it? What legislation of his did you really like the most?

    Though socialist is clearly a stupid title for them, and I’ve heard it around town too.

  18. The Wine Mule

    Jan Davis, Bill Russell, and Dee Williams seem like more or less normal people. The rest…not so much. From Mumpower on one end to Lite at the other, they all seem a bit unhinged. But then again, I’m a very boring person.

    I do wish it was easier to find out where to vote…

  19. Appaholic


    They have a clue……in what way? A clue as to how to retain power by limiting the democratic process? Their unsuccessful attempt at a power grab should be a warning to all residents. I don’t disagree with their overall stance on alot of issues, but could never vote for them due to their attempt at limiting the democratic process via partisan elections. Their power grab attempt basically is telling me they “know what’s best for me….move along….we have everything under control” The residents of this city need to quit drinking the kool-aid, start thinking for themselves and quit being sheeple…it’s disgusting….

  20. M

    I met Bill Russell in person and he honestly makes my skin crawl. I’ve never really been involved in local elections, but he made such an impression on me that I feel obligated to vote in order to keep him out of local politics.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.