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.
Carol Weir Peterson
Address: 221 Racquet Club Road, Asheville
Occupation: Retired educator
Years in Buncombe County: 63
Education: Master’s degree, University of Tennessee
Political party: Democrat
Political experience: Precinct chairman, 20+ years; two-term chairman, Buncombe County Democratic Party; congressional-district officer; serves on state Democratic Party Executive Committee; one of five N.C. members of Democratic National Committee.
1. What sets you apart from your opponent?
“I’m a native of Buncombe County. I’ve come through the education system here; I’ve worked in both the city and county schools. We live on a farm. I’m very interested in seeing that Buncombe County holds fast to the values that my forefathers and my family believe in.”
2. What’s the biggest problem facing the county? What would you do about it?
“The No. 1 problem facing the county (and, of course, the city) is the Water Agreement — and I think what we need to do about that is just to get folks together and reach a consensus that is best for all the citizens of Buncombe County.”
3. What, if anything, needs to change about construction in floodplains?
“I realize that’s a huge problem right now. Our thought regarding that is we need to develop a flood commission — that is, folks from the different particular entities that would be involved — and reach a consensus as to how we can work with this in the future.”
4. Are you in favor of countywide zoning?
“I am not in favor of countywide zoning, but I am in favor of a plan. We’ve got to have a plan. Growth is going to happen, and we need to have a plan for that — and I am in favor of planning for growth where we have the infrastructure. But as far as the “Z” question, I am not in favor of zoning, but I am in favor of our planning for growth.”
5. How would you manage sprawl?
“You manage sprawl by probably what I’ve said — and that’s having a plan for growth. If you don’t have a plan, then things are going to sprawl, and we’ll have to react rather than have a plan. We need to be able to not [be] like the little car that bumps against the wall and keeps going off and reacts to something. We need to have a plan for what we’re doing.”
6. What’s your position on the city of Asheville’s intention to dissolve the Regional Water Agreement?
“They’ve said that within a matter of months, the Water Agreement is going to be null and void. As I’ve said before, this is the biggest problem we have. I think we just need to sit down as leaders in the community and reach a consensus that’s best for all the citizens of Buncombe County.”
7. I-26 Connector: Six lanes or eight? Why?
“I think we’ve got to go with what the professionals are telling us as far as the connector is concerned: Eight lanes.”
8. Is the county’s economic-development policy working? If so, what’s the proof? If not, what’s wrong with it?
“We have AdvantageWest, we have the economic-development plan, we have people in the Chamber who are working on this. There are a lot of things going on, and of course there’s always room for improvement from what we’re doing — and we can’t just stay the way we are as far as the economy is concerned. We’ve got to try to draw in more industry, and we’ve got to look at ways to do that. But I do applaud the work that’s being done by the different agencies that are working on that.”
9. Should the county’s electronic voting machines be required to provide a paper trail?
“I am adamant on that. I was on the Blue Ribbon Commission that selected the county’s voting machines. We have absolutely the best voting machines that we could have as far as Buncombe County is concerned. The commissioners spent the money that was needed; they followed the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Committee. We looked at numerous machines; these machines can have probably at least five different ways that the vote can be reproduced. Let’s say that you went in to vote; they could reproduce your screen (not necessarily knowing that it was your screen), but they can reproduce every screen that’s voted on on that machine. They’re stand-alone machines; there’s at least five ways that the vote can be reproduced. I’m adamant on that. We have wonderful machines.”
10. Do you think county government is open enough? If not, what would you change?
“Communication is the key: You’ve got to be willing to listen to the citizens; they’re the folks you’re working for as a commissioner. Openness is important. I’m sure that there are things that can be improved as far as openness is concerned. One of the things that I’m very interested in is that when people have a question, that they can get an answer as quickly as possible from county government, and I think that’s something that we can always strive to improve.”
11. What responsibilities should be approached regionally? How would you build regional cooperation?
“I realize that Asheville and Buncombe County is the seat in the west, as far as things that should happen. My husband and I are greatly involved in the 11th Congressional District Democratic Party, and I know how the people in the district look to Buncombe County. So we’ve got to look at things regionally. We’re pretty much all in this western part of the state (in different situations) here together. Roads and infrastructure and lots of things need to be looked at regionally. So I think this is something definitely we need to always develop: to work with our neighbors.”
12. What does the county spend too much money on? What does it spend too little on?
“I don’t think we can ever spend too much on education — that’s the key, as far as the future is concerned — and that’s education from kindergarten through the College of Seniors here. I hate that we have to spend money on jails and detention centers and those types of things. That’s of course a necessity — but the more we can spend on education, the more I would like it.”
13. How much money do you plan to spend in the general election?
“Probably as little as possible. Whatever we need to get the job done. We have a lot of people who are interested in seeing that we’re successful. I don’t want to spend an exorbitant amount, but we need to do whatever we need to do to get our message out.” When asked if she had a ballpark figure, Peterson answered, “Not really.”