Dear voters

Xpress asked the candidates to submit letters to our readers addressing one specific local issue that they plan to address as council members. We asked them to explain why the issue is important and to offer a concrete explanation of how they would proceed.

Terry Bellamy

When it comes to specific challenges that Asheville faces at this time, I would consider infrastructure, public safety, incentives for businesses to start and expand, and affordable housing to be the top four issues. These issues impact everyday life for everyone.

As an Asheville native who returned after college, I understand the need for good jobs and affordable housing for our young people.

As a nonprofit employee, I understand the need for business, government and community groups to work together. As a volunteer, I comprehend the needs of the elderly and our children.

As a homeowner, I know how important safe neighborhoods and good streets and sidewalks are.

As a woman, I recognize the need to be heard and included in the decision-making process. As an African-American, I realize the challenges of participating in all that Asheville offers.

My vision of Asheville has citizens at the heart of decision-making. As community leaders, we must not approach issues with bias. We must listen to citizens, learn the facts, bring our own experience to the process, and make good and balanced decisions.

Jan Davis

I love Asheville. I love being a business owner in the downtown, where I work hard every day to make good decisions that allow me to employ people at a livable wage and to pay my share toward the good of Asheville. What I don’t like is that taxes are too high. Of our 10 employees, only three of us live in the city and share in the tax burden. The others choose to live where they pay lower property tax, no supplemental school tax, and have less-regulated property rights.

As a member of City Council, I will look at a more efficient government with less duplication. There needs to be a more serious effort at reducing our budget, without compromising service. We need to be more encouraging to business expansion and location here. I know small-business owners that are locating outside the city or not expanding here because of the adversarial permitting-and-inspection policies. That is one of the reasons that residential taxes are over 65 percent of the city’s property-tax revenue. If elected, I will work to reduce taxes by eliminating duplication, looking closely at the budget, and encouraging business growth.

Jim Ellis

When I joined Council, the city faced tough choices. The lack of state funding threatened the city’s ability to provide essential services, such as fire and police protection, maintenance and improvements of streets, infrastructure, and the ability to create and sustain jobs. It is not a time for frills. Finding the money to ensure that every taxpayer feels safe and has needed services is my highest priority.

I have voted to hold the line on city spending. I support quality development that takes the burden off our taxpayers and that creates new jobs. As an Asheville native, I care deeply about protecting our environment and ensuring that Asheville remains a great, vital city that does as much for our residents as it does for our visitors.

With 30 years’ experience in business and management, I understand what it means to tighten the purse strings while planning for the future. We don’t ever need to be in this situation again! The decisions we make right now will determine the security and prosperity of citizens tomorrow. I will stay the course. I will continue to choose the brightest future for all the people.

Brownie Newman

If elected to City Council, I will work for a stronger and more sustainable economy by supporting locally owned businesses that pay a living wage. I’ll support the integration of attractive, affordable homes throughout the community. I will be an advocate for attractive redevelopment that fits in with the character and scale of our community.

I will not support the sale of our public property within City/County Plaza for the building that Grove Park Inn proposes to construct. It’s exciting that Grove Park Inn wants to invest in our downtown. If elected, I will work with them to find a way for their project to succeed. I think their proposed building is a good idea but it is being proposed in the wrong location. Several nearby locations may work well for such a building.

I will work to improve our local public-transit network with longer hours of operation in the evening and higher-frequency service. I will support completing the I-26 connector as quickly as possible while minimizing impacts on our neighborhoods and environment. I will be an advocate for creating a connected greenways network throughout Asheville. For more info on the campaign or to get involved, go to our Web site (www.newmanasheville.com).

Chris Pelly

In my eight years as president of the Haw Creek Community Association, a concern regularly expressed has been that of pedestrian safety on our automobile-dominated roadways. With concerns over increased traffic, air quality, and health and fitness all weighing on the minds of Asheville voters, a priority of mine on the next City Council will be installation of sidewalks and greenways along all thoroughfares and collector roads within the city limits.

In my role as a neighborhood leader, we were successful in bringing together the Haw Creek community as well as city engineering staff and the N.C. Dept. of Transportation in a first-ever collaboration which resulted in a $372,000 sidewalk-improvements package. It is my intention on City Council to build on this success. It is my intention to use the already-developed Pedestrian Thoroughfare Plan as a guide to placement of additional sidewalks and greenways. It is my intention to seek out state and federal funding sources such as those available in the Transportation Efficiency Act for the 21st Century (or T-21), which are funding sources that will not increase the property-tax burden of Asheville homeowners.

I pledge to the voters my commitment to work to provide a pedestrian-oriented, off-road alternative for those seeking to reduce reliance on motor vehicles.

Rod A. Whiteside

Affordable housing is a key issue. Homeownership is a dream for most residents; we need to do what we can to make sure hard-working citizens realize their dream. I support increased funding for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The fund allows the city to help developers do what they do best — build. We need to pursue other sources of revenue to ensure dollars will be available.

Several affordable-housing developments that have been proposed in recent years have been opposed by local residents who didn’t want the developments in their neighborhoods. We can’t succeed with a NIMBY mentality. Government needs to take a proactive approach when affordable-housing units are planned. We need to beat the drum until all understand if we are serious about affordable housing in theory, we need to be serious about it when the construction site is chosen.

I am running for office because I believe in the ability of government to do good things for its citizens. At the end of the day, the number of votes received won’t matter. There is only one question that will be relevant: What have you done to make your community a better place? I am running for office to help make Asheville a better place for all residents.

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