Residence: West Asheville
Occupation: Self-employed carpenter
Years in Asheville: 4
Education: B.A. in history (Evergreen State College), pursuing master’s in public affairs (WCU)
Political party: Democrat
Political experience: Asheville Transit Commission, Democratic Party State Executive Committee, Young Democrats, active on environmental and transit issues, prior City Council campaign
1. Should the city or a regional authority own the water system?
“City control of the water system offers a greater ability to direct adequate funding toward substantive infrastructure improvements. All customers stand to benefit from these changes. Clear and accountable management is the key to future success.”
2. Do you agree with the decision to hold closed meetings concerning the Water Agreement, such as last April’s city/county mediation session?
“Open meetings would have allowed citizens of both the city and the county to have a better understanding of the positions and considerations involved. The Water Agreement directly affects people, and keeping the discussions out of public view has created opportunities for misinformation that exacerbate the situation.”
3. Is the Asheville Police Department’s current citizen-complaint process adequate?
“Police effectiveness is profoundly impacted by public confidence — trust. While all allegations of misconduct are investigated, improvements are always possible. Simply explaining the flow of investigating a typical complaint or listing contact information for department supervisors online, for example, would serve to reassure people that concerns will be heard.”
4. Would you ever support using eminent domain other than for public-works projects? Under what circumstances?
“No. See my Web site (www.freebornasheville.com) for more detail on this and other issues.”
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?
“Yes. In addition to issuing and collecting fines for violations, we should require developers to purchase performance bonds. These bonds set an up-front value on complying with the UDO and let developers know we’re serious. They’re proactive, encouraging compliance over the ‘It’s easier to ask for forgiveness’ mindset of violators.”
6. What, specifically, would you recommend doing with the Asheville Civic Center?
“It must be updated to reflect the needs and character of Asheville. There’s great opportunity in a face-lift that might include ‘green’ building practices and showcase local talent. We need a solid plan for funding and a reasonable time line for completion. We need to increase and diversify utilization.”
7. Name one thing the current City Council should be proud of, and one thing it should be ashamed of.
“Proud: adopting a Strategic Operating Plan. Ashamed: their inability to offer leadership and support for the vision documents such as the 2025 Plan and the SOP that are integral in addressing the critical issues facing Asheville.”
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 build consensus around common goals — the I-26/40 connector, for example. And I would work to minimize the detriment to neighborhoods on two fronts: first, limit the project to the size required to achieve success; next, ensure pedestrian overpasses and adequate green space for adjacent neighborhoods are incorporated.”
9. Name one positive trend downtown, and one negative trend.
“It’s very positive to see the interest in revitalization and the increased economic exchange driven by small, diverse, locally owned businesses. The most negative trend downtown is new buildings going up that don’t fit with and actually detract from the character of Asheville.”
10. What can Asheville do to cope with high energy prices and projected energy shortages in the coming years?
“Look for systemic solutions over short-term fixes. Our transportation system should provide a cross section of options: bike lanes, improved sidewalks and pedestrian routes, increased schedule for mass transit. We can also provide infrastructure support for companies like Blue Ridge Biofuels that increase access to locally produced alternative fuels.”
11. Would you support increasing the local hotel/motel room tax? Why or why not?
“I would support an increase if the money provides … multiple improvements for both residents and visitors: providing transit access to downtown after 7 p.m. and funding the Greenways Master Plan, for example. This would enhance the Asheville experience for tourists and increase the quality of life for residents.”
12. What political figure from the past or present do you most wish to emulate?
“There is no single figure I look to. Characteristics I admire include leadership, service, humility, respect, service of the common good and hard work on behalf of those that are underrepresented. Leaders grow out of their communities. I truly appreciate the drive, compassion and creativity I find in Asheville.”