Burning issues

With the Nov. 4 election just around the corner—and early voting available from Oct. 16 to Nov. 1, Xpress hit the street, speaking with randomly selected folks about the issues that are compelling them to vote. Besides the high-profile presidential election, which is expected to boost voter turnout, there are also key state and local posts up for grabs, from the governorship on down to the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners.

Given the recent gas shortage and the tanking economy, not to mention a visit by a presidential candidate and a nationally televised debate only days before, it was perhaps no surprise that most people we spoke to were focused on such large concerns. One gentleman pulled his pocket inside out to show that it was empty. “There’s your issue,” he declared. “Put something in it!”

But if you need to brush up on local issues, not to worry: Xpress’ voter guide will be on the stands Oct. 22.

Leilani Pickett
Residence: Asheville
Reasons she’ll vote: “The gas crisis, definitely. My boyfriend works at a gas station. In my case, health care. I don’t have health insurance, and that worries me. I’m scared to go to a hospital. That would cost too much.”


Gracia O’Neill
Residence: Woodfin
Reasons she’ll vote: “Obviously the economy. Then international relations and the economy. I honestly think we are headed for a green economy, and we need to get prepared for that. I am also very concerned about the continued disappearance of my civil liberties [and] disgusted by the tax breaks we give to wealthy CEOs and destructive private industries.”


Caleb Whitaker
Residence: West Asheville
Reasons he’ll vote: “Obviously, it’s the economy, but it’s really going to come down to the fate of my country. Clearly [McCain] has some anger issues. I’m as worried about that as anybody else. Maybe it’s a big way of saying I’m deeply concerned about our country. As far as local issues … responsible development. That debacle with the development plans with Stewart Coleman. I will be voting out the people who voted for that.”


Natalie Hall
Residence: Asheville
Reasons she’ll vote: “The financial [situation] as a whole. My grandmother, she can see us going back to the Depression. Instead of the economy going up, it’s going downhill. I just moved out of a shelter and I’m working at a daycare, and the government is going to bail out this AIG [insurance and financial-services company]. They need to look at the little people.

“[In Asheville] they are building too many condos and too many things to help the tourists, and they are not doing anything to help the people who live here. They don’t understand they are running their people out. They need to look at ways to get jobs. And the homelessness is ridiculous: I’ve never seen so many homeless. Instead of building condos, they may need to build another shelter.”


Clete Fugate
Residence: Leicester
Reasons he’ll vote: “I’m not an activist by any means, but that whole ridiculousness about them selling that land [for Parkside]: I’m still amazed by that. That was just uncalled for. We also need strong representation to get rid of people like [former Sheriff Bobby] Medford.

On the national level, I am so excited to vote for someone who inspires me. As a veteran, it has more meaning for me. I was in Iraq, and I would be proud to have [Obama] as commander in chief.”


Rob Burress
Residence: Asheville
Reasons he’ll vote: “I’ve only been here seven or eight months, so I don’t really know much about local issues. But the last eight years have been a disaster in both foreign and domestic, and certainly economic [issues]. It’s fairly common sense that greed is taking over. We’ve been making mistakes, and we need to correct them.”


James Bellamy
Residence: Asheville
Reasons he’ll vote: “No new taxes. Health care and education. Nobody should have to pay a big deductible. Instead of building new jails, they should be building new schools for the kids. They are building jails to put our kids in later.

“And ending the war. I think we are in the wrong place anyway. We’re in Iraq when we should be in Afghanistan.”


Trip Weathers
Residence: Weaverville
Reasons he’ll vote: “I think health care is one of the main things right now. I’m lucky in my job that I’m covered, but there’s a lot of people who aren’t. The economy is also one of the main things now, and energy. We need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. We need some sustainable alternatives. I’m interested in seeing the local economy thriving and keeping money here rather than sending it everywhere else. A lot of the national issues trickle down to the local level.”




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2 thoughts on “Burning issues

  1. Hatter

    Seems to me Mountain Express only wanted the opinion of Bama’s voter’s. Maybe next time you can be a little less conspicuous.

  2. dave

    Well, “Hatter”, it would seem that only one of the above people even mentioned Obama’s name, and he is an Iraq Veteran. Hardly the “fringe left”

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