Candidate questionnaire: David Gantt, chair of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners

This post features responses to the Xpress questionnaire from Democrat David Gantt, incumbent chair of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners. His Republican challenger in this year’s election, J.B. Howard, declined to respond.

David Gantt

Slogan: “More with less.”
Occupation: Lawyer
Residence: Fletcher
Top three donors: Joe Adams, Charise Gantt, Mack Pearsall
Total raised as of Sept. 1: $ 40,000.00
Endorsements: N.C. Assoc. of Educators, AFL-CIO, Sierra Club

1. Do you support raising, maintaining or decreasing the commissioners’ total compensation, including all stipends and allowances? Why?

On Feb. 15, 2011, I voted to decrease my allowances by $12,480 or about 30 percent. I do not think commissioners should be paid at the top of the 100 counties and would consider further reductions to make us proportionate with our population size and responsibilities.

2. Do you support or oppose holding a bond referendum next year to fund implementation of the county’s Greenways and Trails Master Plan? Why?

I support a community discussion on a bond referendum at some point in the future but not next year. The six municipalities in Buncombe County must prioritize and specifically identify the most valuable parcels vulnerable to development before we can properly look toward a bond.

3. Should sexual orientation/gender identity be added to the list of protected classes in the county’s personnel ordinance? Why or why not?

Yes. I believe sexual orientation/gender identity discrimination should be specifically banned in our county. We should have zero tolerance for this type of discrimination and must spell this out in official county ordinance.

4. Should the county adjust the tax rate to keep property-tax revenues neutral? Why or why not?

Generally, we should strive to keep revenue neutral based on new property evaluations in 2013. The final decision will rest upon needs of budget, which will be set in spring 2013.

5. Do you support requiring residents in unincorporated parts of the county to pay for trash and recycling pickup? Why or why not?

Not unless the county can negotiate a huge price decrease for the roughly 50 percent of residents who are now paying for trash and recycling pickup. If the costs of trash/recycling could be dramatically reduced with mandatory pickup, I would consider this.

A basic guide to the new Buncombe County district election system

Last year, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a law changing the system used to elect members of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners.

Previously, voters throughout the entire county elected four members and a chair to four-year terms on the board. The top-five vote-getters won.

But for this year, voters have been divided in to three districts, which correspond to the county’s three Statehouse districts. District 1 (corresponding to House District 114) roughly follows the borders of Asheville. District 2 (corresponding to House District 115) includes much of the eastern part of the county, from Fairview and Black Mountain to Weaverville. And District 3 (corresponding to House District 116) lies mostly to the west of town, stretching from Arden in the south to Sandymush in the northwest.

Each voter will be asked to choose two commissioners (who must live within that district), plus the board chair, who’ll still be elected countywide. This will expand the board to include six members and a chair.

In each district, the candidate receiving the most votes in 2012 will serve a four-year term; the other winner will be up for re-election in 2014. After that, all commissioners will serve four-year terms, and each district will elect one commissioner every two years.


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About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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