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: 172 Wembley Road, Asheville
Occupation: Owns Fugazy Travel
Years in Buncombe County: 18
Education: Bachelor’s degree, UNC-Chapel Hill
Political party: Democrat
Political experience: County commissioner 12 years; chairman, Economic Development Commission; member, Asheville Regional Airport Authority
1. What sets you apart from your opponent?
“Leadership and experience.”
2. What’s the biggest problem facing the county? What would you do about it?
“The most pressing issue that’s before us right now is resolution of the Water Agreement with the city, and I think we need to do heavy negotiations to try to come up with a solution which is fair to both city and county residents.”
3. What, if anything, needs to change about construction in floodplains?
“The flood maps are all outdated. We need up-to-date flood maps that really show where it’s going to flood. I think we have an idea now where it’s going to flood, and I think we need to be very restrictive about allowing people to rebuild in the floodplain.”
4. Are you in favor of countywide zoning?
“No. No plan that I’ve heard so far, and I think what I like is planning. I like working with the city on the joint planning area, which is one mile around the city. It will be much more restrictive than what it would ever have been before. But as far as zoning, like in Sandy Mush, I just don’t think there is a need or a call for that.”
5. How would you manage sprawl?
“I don’t think any city in America has successfully managed sprawl. I think the best way, in my mind, is to manage water- and sewer-line growth. If your infrastructure is not there, it’s hard to get a lot of dense growth.”
6. What’s your position on the city of Asheville’s intention to dissolve the Regional Water Agreement?
“I am entirely against it. I think we can come up with a much better regional solution.”
7. I-26 Connector: Six lanes or eight? Why?
“Six. Because part of the community will never accept eight. There will be lawsuits, and construction will be years down the road. We’ve got to move quickly and the only way to do that is to come up with a compromise solution of six lanes, which is what I’m in favor of.”
8. Is the county’s economic-development policy working? If so, what’s the proof? If not, what’s wrong with it?
“I think it’s working. We’ve been creating lots of new jobs, and we’ve helped businesses expand here. We need to do a better job of stepping outside the normal box, like working with the Media Arts Project. That has a lot of potential to bring in jobs, to help create jobs. It’s very much not the norm, and it’s sometimes very difficult to break out of the mold of the norm. So I’d say, yes, it’s working. Can it be refined? Absolutely.”
9. Should the county’s electronic voting machines be required to provide a paper trail?
“I hope we get to that, because some people don’t trust it one bit. Until we’re able to have folks saying, ‘Yes, electronic voting is an absolute, positive solution,’ then I don’t think we have done our job. I want to see us have an easy system to vote and collect those numbers, but we need to have some kind of backup.”
10. Do you think county government is open enough? If not, what would you change?
“I think county government is unbelievably open. I think one of the downsides of government is that people are too busy or doing other things. Very few people actually call me and say, ‘I’m concerned about this, will you help me with this, will you work on this?’ I think we try to put it out on the Web site. My name is on the Web site; it’s on TV all the time on our station, talking about ‘Here’s how you contact the commissioners.’ It’s not like you couldn’t get in touch with me, but I think people are busy with their own lives, with their kids, just trying to make a living, and sometimes they don’t find the time or make the time to voice their opinions. I think that’s the sad part.”
11. What responsibilities should be approached regionally? How would you build regional cooperation?
“Water would be No. 1. Sewer. Economic development. Health. Mental health. That list can go on and on of things we can do. We’re already working on a regional mental-health system that is a model across the state right now because we’re further along than any other area in the state.
“I think that what has to happen, unfortunately, is that many times the state has to say: ‘OK, you have to do this. The only way we are going to fund you is if you do this.’ Quite honestly, it worked in mental health. It took a lot of pain and suffering to get there, but we have a regional mental-health authority. Until we’re forced to do it, just the nature of turf battles and natural boundaries calls us to not look regionally nearly as much as we should.”
12. What does the county spend too much money on? What does it spend too little on?
“It spends too much on jails and new facilities for county staff. Unfortunately, those are things we have had to do. I don’t like that a bit; I especially don’t like jails.
“We spend too little on Parks & Rec, libraries, things that really improve our quality of life. Education. Probably jobs. There’s tons of things we spend too little on.”
13. How much money do you plan to spend in the general election?
“$17,000 to $18,000.”