Residence: West Asheville
Occupation: Self-employed carpenter
Years in Asheville: 4
Education: B.A. in history (Evergreen State College), pursuing master’s in public affairs (WCU)
Political party: Democrat
Political experience: Asheville Transit Commission, Democratic Party State Executive Committee, Young Democrats, active on environmental and transit issues, prior City Council campaign
What most distinguishes you from your opponents in this election?
“My campaign. The campaign you run shows the kind of public servant you’ll be. I’ve spent a lot of time walking neighborhoods, knocking on doors, talking to people about their concerns. I’ve spent a lot of time listening to what people really want, and voters have responded positively.”
Should the city build the Battle Square parking deck as planned?
“No. It’s a poor investment and a classic example of throwing good money after bad. We need to look for creative, comprehensive solutions that address both the demand for parking downtown and the other transportation concerns people have.”
If City Council must fill a vacated seat after the election, will you vote to appoint the next highest vote-getter? Why or why not?
“Not automatically. Council should look for someone who complements the other members. We need to make sure that there is a voice for everyone at the table and that we can work together, rather than continuing the unproductive power struggle that has marked the current Council.”
Should the city enact height restrictions on new downtown buildings? Why or why not?
“New construction should match the [surrounding] area. There are some beautiful tall buildings downtown and some real eyesores. There are areas where we can go higher and areas where it would be inappropriate. I do not support a one-size-fits-all solution, but height restrictions are certainly a tool to consider.”
What changes (if any) would you make to expand public input in city meetings, plans and policies?
“Continuing shock over the parking deck is a clear indicator that we’re not doing enough before decisions are made. Citizen advisory commissions should report recommendations directly and publicly to Council and city staff, in order to let the public know what the recommendations are and whether or not they’re followed.”
Would you vote to increase the salaries for Council members (currently $11,927) and the mayor (currently $16,223)? Why or why not?
“I don’t support increasing salaries for Council or the mayor unless we change the structure of our municipality. If we decided that Council and the mayor should have a stronger role in day-to-day operations of the city, compensation would need to change accordingly. It’s a community decision, not Council’s.”
Would you vote to extend insurance benefits to unmarried domestic partners of city workers? Why or why not?
“I support any effort that we can afford to provide insurance benefits to as many people as possible. Please visit my Web site (www.freebornasheville.com).”
Should the city require developers to post performance bonds to ensure that permit conditions are met?
“Absolutely. I’m a parent, so I think a lot about encouraging good behavior. Threatening punishment without following through doesn’t work. Performance bonds are proactive and protect our interests, letting developers know we’re serious about compliance without the risk of litigation or being stuck with unfinished projects when something goes wrong.”
What do you think the recent primary results tell us about current political trends in Asheville?
“People are ready for proactive leadership, positive ideas and strategic infrastructure investments. For my part, they show that people appreciate a willingness to come to them where they live to hear concerns and take action. Voter turnout was up in the precincts where I did well, despite low turnout citywide.”
Name an unsung local hero or heroes — someone or some group that is performing significant public service with little recognition.
“The Mother Love Program provides adult mentors to pregnant and parenting teens. Pregnant teens face real obstacles to a future of opportunity. This program helps them to succeed as parents and individuals through pregnancy prevention and obtaining high-school diplomas. This program inspires me as a parent and a citizen.”