Bill Branyon

Bill Branyon

Age: 50
Residence: North Asheville
Occupation: Novelist, journalist, activist, historian, clerk
Years in Asheville: 25
Education: B.A. in history (Vanderbilt University), master’s in history (WCU)
Political party: Democrat
Political experience: WNC Alliance UDO Committee, opposing Super Wal-Mart, I-26 Awareness Group, co-chair of local protests against first Gulf War, former Green Line reporter on city beat

1. Should the city or a regional authority own the water system?

“Ideally a regional authority, although the City Council’s contention about inequitable rates has merit. However, I would have walked the 50 yards between the city and county [buildings] however many times it took to negotiate with the county commissioners to prevent what could be a multimillion-dollar lawsuit.”

2. Do you agree with the decision to hold closed meetings concerning the Water Agreement, such as last April’s city/county mediation session?

“All meetings where decisions are made should be open to the public. Treat citizens like adults. After 50 years of the politics of mutually assured nuclear destruction, Clinton’s kinky sex life and Bush’s brazen lies, the public can handle political negotiations.”

3. Is the Asheville Police Department’s current citizen-complaint process adequate?

“No. Our city is blessed with citizens who take the First Amendment seriously. Complaints should be easy, open, effective and with vigilant follow-up. First Amendment rights should also be extended to quasi-public venues such as the Asheville Mall, [which] currently caterwauls multinational political messages, unchallenged.”

4. Would you ever support using eminent domain other than for public-works projects? Under what circumstances?

“No. Eminent domain for corporate profit may be the end of resistance to multinational control over private-property rights. Never use eminent domain for anything other than compelling public works. I-26 will be an eminent-domain nightmare, destroying countless property rights to keep us addicted to the auto industry.”

5. City staff have documented several recent cases of developers violating the Unified Development Ordinance or conditions of their permits, but no fines have been issued. Should these rules be more strictly enforced?

“Absolutely. We must revoke some permits where conditions are violated or they will be ignored, as was the case with Campus Crest. Neighborhoods should control development within themselves, have substantial control around their borders, and intervene to prevent errant construction. My opponents’ nonchalance about Campus Crest encourages violations.”

6. What, specifically, would you recommend doing with the Asheville Civic Center?

“Fix it and spruce it up. With a progressive Council and my comprehensive vision, we will quickly renovate the Civic Center and then proceed to save the ecology, quality of life and locally owned businesses and arts of Asheville from the destructive plans of rampant growth merchants.”

7. Name one thing the current City Council should be proud of, and one thing it should be ashamed of.

“Proud of allowing citizen activism to block Grove Park skyscrapers from literally scraping the skies from City/County Plaza. Ashamed of allowing pitiful poverty to fester alongside splendid riches, and encouraging multinationals to pave paradise, pay minimal wages, export dollars out of town, and kill untold numbers of locally owned businesses.”

8. An N.C. DOT study indicates that six lanes can accommodate the projected traffic on the I-26 connector. What, if anything, would you do to prevent the DOT from building an eight-lane connector?

“I would strongly support efforts to keep I-26 to six lanes. I’d defer to the many smart and dedicated people who’ve worked for years to do so. However, my heart believes that with a progressive Council we could stop it or reroute it outside of Asheville’s breathing and living space.”

9. Name one positive trend downtown, and one negative trend.

“Positive: the resiliency of locally owned businesses and the arts against the imperialism of multinationals. Negative: Council’s encouraging multinational, nonlocal control of our economy that exports 85 percent of its money transactions. Locally owned businesses keep 50 percent of their dollars in the city. Ban retail franchises from downtown.”

10. What can Asheville do to cope with high energy prices and projected energy shortages in the coming years?

“Enhance ease of bus use. Build a north/south commuter train, and make it financially compelling for non-Ashevillean commuters to use it. Make pedestrian and bicycle travel safe and easy. Subsidize an alternative-fuels committee that promotes biodiesels and picks up and utilizes restaurant wastes at no cost to the restaurants.”

11. Would you support increasing the local hotel/motel room tax? Why or why not?

“Yes, if it didn’t hurt hotel business. The plan is to let stressed tourists experience how a truly healthy, relaxed and supportive community lives, plays, creates and exchanges goods. Then we’ll gently upend them, shake their money out, and send them back to Multinational Land until they’ve earned more money.”

12. What political figure from the past or present do you most wish to emulate?

“Jesus’ compassion, sharing, hope and morality. Nietzsche’s, Jefferson’s and Joni Mitchell’s freedom and nonjudgmental wonder. Gandhi and King’s nonviolence and race insights. Marx’s (Groucho) humor. Teddy Roosevelt’s ecology. FDR’s nonideological solutions and leadership. Eleanor Roosevelt’s ideologically leading FDR. Galbraith’s economics. LBJ’s War on Poverty. Cindy Sheehan’s effective activism.”


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