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: 586 Old U.S. 70, Swannanoa
Occupation: Self-employed (delivery service)
Years in Buncombe County: 32
Education: Attended University of South Carolina (didn’t graduate)
Political party: Republican
Political experience: None
1. What sets you apart from your opponent?
“I firmly don’t believe that any county commissioner or chairman should be on any boards in the area. I think there’s a tendency there, when you’re on the [Board of Commissioners] and those same [groups] come before you for money, there’s more of a tendency to do this if you’re on those boards and not be able to say no. Most of the others don’t agree with me. To me it’s just a conflict of interest. It’s hard to get anybody that’s totally free of anything like that. But in certain issues, if it’s really involved, they should excuse themselves from a vote.”
2. What’s the biggest problem facing the county? What would you do about it?
“Probably the water issue right now is the biggest issue we have to overcome immediately. That one is a tough one, unless you’re in on the inside and know the real workings of it. I haven’t had a chance to study it, but I do know this: I’m not in favor of what, right now, the city wants to do, which is to put it all under the city and then raise rates. Then, after that, get a hold on spending. It’s amazing to me that, 10 years ago, the budget was just half of what it is right now. It’s unforeseeable to me how it can double in 10 years when it took 100 years or more to reach the level where it’s at.”
3. What, if anything, needs to change about construction in floodplains?
“I think they’ve got a pretty good floodplain area. The only thing we’ve got to do is to anticipate these things coming and don’t wait until actually these big heavy rains come before we start letting out that reservoir. Both times they’ve had to let that reservoir down, we’ve had tremendous floods out in Swannanoa. No other times have we had it — only when they do that but don’t do it in time. I think probably everything would have been all right. We’ve been there for years without these kinds of problems. Now it was unusual, a 17-inch rain. Most places don’t get that, but still I don’t think it would have been near as bad.”
4. Are you in favor of countywide zoning?
“Absolutely not; I am totally against zoning. I was living out in Skyland when the zoning went in there. I fought it then and I’ll fight it now because, in my opinion, zoning does nothing but [do] away with affordable housing. It limits where they want people to put mobile homes, and in my opinion, they may be the only affordable housing left in the area. I don’t like people on one side of the road doing something and on the other side, they can’t.”
5. How would you manage sprawl?
“When you manage sprawl, you get stuff like what Portland, Oregon’s got, where you try to put people in one little area, and you turn all the other land into government-control land. Management of sprawl is just zoning in a little different way.”
6. What’s your position on the city of Asheville’s intention to dissolve the Regional Water Agreement?
“I agree that, in most areas, the city does control the water. However, here’s what I’m looking at: This water area is completely out in Swannanoa. The water first has to be pumped back to the city. Now why should people out in the county, when water is being pumped right by them, pay more money because it costs more money to get it to them than it does for city people? They actually should get cheaper rates, based on how far out they got to pump it.”
7. I-26 Connector: Six lanes or eight? Why?
“I think we ought to go with six now and look, in the very near future, at a bypass around the area, as was originally tried some years ago. A great deal of the traffic that jams up here on Patton is not I-26 traffic. It is basically local traffic that, if there was a bypass from out in the Skyland/Arden area, it would eliminate a lot of the problems here on Patton Avenue.”
8. Is the county’s economic-development policy working? If so, what’s the proof? If not, what’s wrong with it?
“Possibly in some areas, but I think things could be done a lot better. I’m starting to go along with what one of the other candidates is saying: It’s not so much the economic boards that are trying to do things, it’s the thought behind it; what they are wanting to do. Without adjustment of our tax structure, we are not going to attract any business in this area. There seems to be more of an emphasis on tourism and [on] this becoming a retirement area than there is on actual jobs and work.”
9. Should the county’s electronic voting machines be required to provide a paper trail?
10. Do you think county government is open enough? If not, what would you change?
“No. Many things now are being done in closed sessions. Any time you’re spending county money, it should be in an open and above-board basis in the chambers, with it going out over our television network, and the comments of the people should all be televised on that network. Other people in the county need to know what other people think about ideas — whether they agree with them or don’t agree with them, they need to hear them. If I am elected, that is one of the first things I intend to bring up.”
11. What responsibilities should be approached regionally? How would you build regional cooperation?
“I think counties should have more control. It’s one thing for the government to say, ‘You will do this, or you will do that,’ but I really think one of the real problems we’ve got here is, we’ve got such a stress on getting money from the state and federal [government], we’re way too tempted to depend on whatever they hand down, rather than do whatever’s best for our communities.”
12. What does the county spend too much money on? What does it spend too little on?
“I think we are funding too many nonprofits. There are some that are necessary, but there are some that are not necessary. The way it’s put into the budget, we don’t know who [the money’s] going to or if it’s even needed. They need to have to open their books and show us what they are doing with it — and if they need it — not just come up and it be handed out to them. I don’t know that we need to spend a lot more money on anything. We just need to control some of the things that we are spending money on. I think there is an abundant amount being spent on most any feature you want to look at in the county. It’s just that some of it should not be funded. I’m all for the schools and putting an adequate amount of money there, but I think there needs to be some control on how that money’s spent even by the school system. I’m not saying cut it down, I’m saying use it more wisely.”
13. How much money do you plan to spend in the general election?
“$3,000 or less.”