Occupation: Director, political outreach & education, Conservation Council of North Carolina
Education: B.A. history/political science, Warren Wilson College
Political experience: Finance Committee, Housing and Community Development Committee, Asheville Transit Commission, Metropolitan Planning Organization, Metropolitan Sewerage District
Donors (top 3): Robin Hanes, $1,000; Mack Pearsall, $1,000; Chuck Cole, $1000
Endorsements: Asheville Democracy for America, Asheville Fire Fighters Association, Sierra Club, Chris Pelly, Vice Mayor Holly Jones, Council member Robin Cape
If he were an animal, what would it be?: “A river otter. They spend all day swimming and playing in mountain streams. It looks like fun.”
1) What are the best and worst steps City Council has taken in the past two years, and why?
Best: “Steep-slope-development ordinance to protect our mountainsides from harmful development.”
Worst: “What happened to Richmond Hill Park. This was never a suitable place for ball fields or an armory. Although the decisions to develop these facilities were made before I was on Council, the damage has occurred over the past two years.”
2) What plan(s) do you support for the I-26 Connector project, and why?
“I support the Asheville Design Center plans for the I-26 Connector. When the DOT refused to consider this proposal, I made the motion to hire an independent engineering firm to give the community-based alternative a chance.”
3) What, if anything, should the city do to improve mass transit?
“Councilman Freeborn and I co-sponsored the proposal for a 90-day ride-for-free promotion, evening transit services and low-cost transit passes. Ridership has increased 30 percent in just two years. Next steps: creating park-and-ride facilities around town and higher-frequency service in key areas that have the density to support it.”
4) What specific measures, if any, should the city take to address environmental concerns?
“Councilwoman Cape and I sponsored the proposal for all future city facilities to achieve LEED Gold certification for green building … as well reducing our energy and carbon emissions by 80 percent over the next three decades. … Asheville should be a national leader in renewable energy and energy independence.”
5) What’s your position on partisan elections?
“The political parties play an active role in Asheville elections, and it’s dishonest to call our elections ‘nonpartisan.’ I do support making it easier for unaffiliated candidates to have their name on the ballot.”
6) As a member of City Council, what would be your top three priorities?
“1) Protecting Asheville’s neighborhoods and environment; 2) Repairing critical infrastructure; 3) Standing up for Asheville taxpayers and working families.”
7) What living national political figure do you most admire, and why?
“Sen. Jim Webb (D-Virginia). He defeated George Allen.”
8) Under what circumstances, if any, would you support forced annexation?
“I support annexing areas that meet the state’s urbanization criteria. People who live in new developments built on the edge of our city who use our services and infrastructure should pay their fair share of taxes. Otherwise, Asheville families are forced to subsidize these new developments.”
9) What steps, if any, do you support to promote affordable housing in Asheville?
“We currently have a 50 percent fee waiver for affordable housing. I would support making it a 100 percent fee waiver. I also support expanded tax incentives and infrastructure financing to encourage private-sector creation of affordable housing.”
10) What most distinguishes you from your opponents?
“I bring a record of accomplishment. We established Asheville as a national environmental leader. Passed Clean Smokestacks Act. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for city buildings. We doubled our investments in sidewalks and greenways. Increased transit ridership by 30 percent. I like to get things done, not just talk.”