Vote for four. The candidates are Mark Crawford, Republican; David Gantt, Democrat; Mike Harrison, Republican; Mike Morgan, Republican; Carol Weir Peterson, Democrat; Bill Reynolds, Republican; Bill Stanley, Democrat; and David Young, Democrat.
Address: 28 Troy Hill Drive, Fletcher
Years in Buncombe County: 23
Education: Law degree, Campbell University
Political party: Democrat
Political experience: County commissioner for eight years
1. What sets you apart from your opponent?
“Vision. Understanding of the relationship between education, economy and environment.”
2. What’s the biggest problem facing the county? What would you do about it?
“The No. 1 problem is making sure that we have a good educational system, so that people can get good jobs and that businesses will move here because we have an educated work force. I’m also very, very concerned about how fast we are developing the county, and I have a lot of environmental concerns because of the rate of uncontrolled growth. I would work toward adequate funding of our educational system. I would continue to have dialogue about the best way to protect our natural resources. And also, I would continue our policy of trying to help small, new businesses and small, existing businesses grow and develop so they can offer jobs for everyone who wants to live here.”
3. What, if anything, needs to change about construction in floodplains?
“I favor appointing a flood commission with all the municipalities within Buncombe County and enacting some far-reaching rules that protect property rights while … also [respecting] the natural balance of the river and the floodplains. I think we have to remap the floodplain. We should adopt an emergency-management trust fund — that’s more statewide, I guess. I just think we need to limit the development of infrastructure — bridges, roads and sewers — within the floodplain area by incentives and permitting. I would like to see us adopt some hazard mitigation and land-use plans that prevent businesses from building in flood-prone areas and in the floodplains themselves. I think the first thing we need to do is to get the maps updated so that we know where the flooding is, based on current weather patterns. Then we need to enter into a dialogue with businesses and enact some pretty tough regulations that prevent poor planning and poor building patterns, [which] result from uncontrolled development that has been the norm in Buncombe County for years.”
4. Are you in favor of countywide zoning?
“Yes. I cannot support the zoning plan that was voted on by county residents, but I would continue the dialogue and suggest other zoning plans.”
5. How would you manage sprawl?
“We need to encourage people to build in areas that are already served by water and sewer — and that would include residential and businesses. We should give incentives to people to not build on ridge tops and in floodplains and places that will add to the taxpayers’ expense of providing those services.”
6. What’s your position on the city of Asheville’s intention to dissolve the Regional Water Agreement?
“The city has the right to cancel the agreement, just as the city had the right to enter into it 20-some years ago. I favor an independent agency, but the city has elected to retain ownership of the Water Agreement. County residents live in the city and outside the city, so I will work to make the transition as economical and as efficient as we can, while protecting people who don’t live inside the city limits.”
7. I-26 Connector: Six lanes or eight? Why?
“Six. I think six lanes will handle the revised traffic flow that is now projected. I think a push to have eight lanes is, No. 1, unnecessary and No. 2, will lead to lengthy litigation that will actually delay the construction of any roads. And then, No. 3, I just think we have to protect neighborhoods whenever possible — and I think the six lanes protects the West Asheville neighborhood area.”
8. Is the county’s economic-development policy working? If so, what’s the proof? If not, what’s wrong with it?
“Yes. We have good business growth; we’re a very desirable place to live, very desirable place to do business. We have survived the transition away from manufacturing to other businesses much better than other places in the state and in the country.”
9. Should the county’s electronic voting machines be required to provide a paper trail?
“I would not support changing the machines that were purchased by this board. I certainly would love to have a paper trail — but I’m convinced the machines give us adequate protection based on the way they’re configured and set up.”
10. Do you think county government is open enough? If not, what would you change?
“I think county government can always be more open, but I think we’ve done a lot. Every meeting is televised. We have an excellent Web site; very good interactive Internet access. We’re honest about our mistakes and don’t try to cover things up.”
11. What responsibilities should be approached regionally? How would you build regional cooperation?
“As chairman of the Land-of-Sky Regional Council for the past two years, I think there’s a wonderful potential to enter into regional projects. I think the main thing is to sit around the table, have regular meetings with other counties and other government units within the neighborhood, so to speak, and talk about what would be mutually beneficial in projects and laws.”
12. What does the county spend too much money on? What does it spend too little on?
“I think we don’t fund proper salaries for teachers, school workers and county employees. We don’t do enough for parks, recreation and environmental considerations. As far as spending too much, I think there are always places to cut, but I don’t know of an area that we just blatantly spend too much on.”
13. How much money do you plan to spend in the general election?