Political party: Democrat
Occupation: Executive director, YWCA of Asheville
Political experience: Asheville City Council 2001 to present; vice mayor 2005-07
Endorsements: Sierra Club, Democracy for America, Progressive Democrats of Buncombe County
1) How much money have you raised for your campaign? Who are your top three donors, and how much has each contributed?
Top three: Greg Edney $4,000, Don and Lisbeth Cooper $2,000, Terry Van Duyn $1,500.
2) What most distinguishes you from your opponents in this race?
“As director of the YWCA, I am in daily contact with the working people of this community. Many work two jobs with no health insurance. These families need an advocate. Furthermore, my experience as a City Council member makes me uniquely positioned to bridge the long-standing city and county divide.”
3) What do you consider to be your most controversial policy position?
“The decision to terminate the old water agreement was and remains controversial. My primary reason for supporting this decision was that our water infrastructure was literally falling apart. Since then, City Council has invested more than $35 million to repair the system. Important work remains to fully resolve this issue.”
4) Do you favor expanding zoning in the county, reversing it or keeping it at its present level? Why?
“As a commissioner, my approach would be to improve, not necessarily reverse or expand, the zoning plan. Zoning is only positive if done well. Periodic review is critical. I support implementation of a regional planning process that would involve all local governments to create a unified vision for our future.”
5) What would you do to attract better-paying jobs to the area?
“Work with partners to promote and incentivize local entrepreneurs producing green-collar jobs (ie. jobs related to renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, environmental science and construction of energy-efficient buildings); support the climate-services initiative of the Asheville HUB project and A-B Tech’s new Clean Energy Business Incubator.”
6) Has the present Board of Commissioners conducted its business with sufficient transparency? If not, what would you do to increase openness?
“No. I disagree with the commissioners’ closed-door decision to give away county land to Progress Energy for a power plant in Woodfin. City Council is criticized for having longer meetings, but if that is what it takes to do the public’s business in public, let’s take the time.”
7) Should the public-comment period before and after board meetings be televised? Why or why not?
“Yes. The more transparency the better.”
8) The recent gas shortage revealed that this area is uniquely vulnerable to disruptions in fuel supply. What steps would you take to remedy this?
“Assure that our community receives more advance warning when fuel shortages are expected. We also need a regional strategy that encourages gas stations and citizens to adopt a voluntary approach to discourage “fuel hoarding”, which greatly exacerbates the problem. Finally, educate citizens on how to be prepared for such crises.”
9) What is your position on the Sullivan Acts and the water dispute with the city of Asheville?
“The Sullivan Acts do not serve the best interest of our entire community. Negotiations need to resume to resolve the issues outside of court. If both sides listen to each other, take the controversial elements off the table (such as rate differentials and an independent authority), a compromise is possible.”
10) Are current slope-construction regulations appropriate? How, if at all, would you change them?
“It is too soon to tell if the newly adopted ordinance is working. A six- and 12-month review should be scheduled. Such an assessment would inform commissioners if modifications need to be made to achieve the policy goal of preserving our ridge tops and saving our slopes.”