Keith Thomson

Keith Thomson

Age: 45
Residence: Near UNCA
Occupation: Computer-network-systems engineer, small-business owner
Years in Asheville: Since 1981, except to attend school in Chapel Hill
Education: B.A. (UNCA), M.A. (UNC-Chapel Hill)
Political party: Democrat
Political experience: Asheville City Schools (Budget Advisory Committee, Innovation Task Force, PTO president); Children First of Buncombe County; Asheville-Buncombe Clean Air Community Trust; YMI Cultural Center; Citizens for Safe Drinking Water and Air; 2025 City Plan Advisory Committee; many others.

What most distinguishes you from your opponents in this election?

“[Resident] since 1981. My two children have attended Asheville City Schools for the last nine years. I have owned a technology-services business serving small businesses, professional offices and nonprofit groups for over 10 years. My plan to redevelop corridors and grow jobs using new technologies and locally owned small businesses.”

Should the city build the Battle Square parking deck as planned?

“No, but the city should work with both downtown residents and business owners to find a solution that will fulfill the commitment to the small businesses in the Grove Arcade by building a smaller, appropriately designed facility.”

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?

“Yes. I think this will ensure [that] voters have a say in the outcome of the election. But we should seek a higher turnout to honestly reflect what the voters truly think.”

Should the city enact height restrictions on new downtown buildings? Why or why not?

“Yes. Our mountain city’s economic well-being and quality of life depend on our scenic assets, and there is a limit to what is appropriate. Our citizens should have input into what that limit should be.”

What changes (if any) would you make to expand public input in city meetings, plans and policies?

“I would review the 2025 City Plan Advisory Committee PROCESS and seek ways to include the public in creating more area development plans to redevelop corridors in ways that promote healthy growth and livable neighborhoods.”

Would you vote to increase the salaries for Council members (currently $11,927) and the mayor (currently $16,223)? Why or why not?

“No. I might vote for the next Council to get a pay increase but would not like to vote for a personal increase, given other pressing financial needs of the city.”

Would you vote to extend insurance benefits to unmarried domestic partners of city workers? Why or why not?

“Yes. As a city, we do not regulate the private, personal lives of our employees or our citizens. Attracting and retaining highly qualified public servants should be the goal of our personnel policy.”

Should the city require developers to post performance bonds to ensure that permit conditions are met?

“Yes. If a developer agrees to receive the benefits of a conditional-use permit, then we should let a third party insure their compliance. This allows the surrounding residents affected by the decision to rest assured that promises made are promises kept.”

What do you think the recent primary results tell us about current political trends in Asheville?

“The low turnout tells me we need to do more to build civic involvement. … People are feeling disenfranchised and powerless and are staying home instead of voting because they don’t feel their vote will make any real difference in the quality of their lives or those of their families.”

Name an unsung local hero or heroes — someone or some group that is performing significant public service with little recognition.

“Anderson Davis and his colleagues with Partners Unlimited at the Reid Community Center are working with some of our most at-risk youth and their families to make a difference in their lives. Very few people are aware of the important work they are doing.”

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