Xpress received a number of letters this week pertaining to the Nov. 8 Asheville City Council election. Because the next issue of Xpress publishes Nov. 10, we’re presenting the letters in this special online edition.
Please feel free to post your election thoughts, endorsements, civil expressions of opposition or responses to the following letters in the comments field. Letters posted in the comments field will not be edited by Xpress, and are subject to our commenting policy (copied at the end of this entry).
Asheville, please vote for Mark Cates.
Whether or not one lives in the city, we all know Asheville is the economic engine of Western North Carolina. The entire region has an acute interest in Asheville’s economy and we all want it to be strong. After reading position statements from the City Council candidates, I find that most are not directed toward the economy. My concern is that most of these positions are narrowly directed. Sidewalks, greenways, public transportation are important issues but in this economy jobs and economic development come first.
Of all the candidates’ positions, I find only one who has a comprehensive plan to attract businesses that leverages the culture, strengths and the environmental passions of the Asheville area. That person is Mark Cates. His economic vision pays for infrastructure improvements while protecting local businesses and attracts the kind of businesses that enhance and complement the Asheville culture. Mark Cates is the only candidate who has figured out that taxes and increased municipal debt need not be the first option for funding infrastructure improvements. Asheville, please vote for Mark Cates.
C’mon Mr. Cates! Who are you?
City Council candidate Mark Cates says he hasn’t had any political experience since high school. There’s some truth to that. He has lived in Asheville for most of a decade and admits he has never voted in a local election, nor participated in public discussion of issues because he was too busy with other commitments. Yet, he found time to serve as local tea party “bookkeeper.” His manifesto, “The Economic and Environmental Development of Asheville, N.C.” is mostly a compilation of existing programs adopted by various commissions, boards and agencies. It’s nothing new. Further exploiting the work of other people, his campaign has shamelessly co-opted the well-recognized feather symbol, the signature feature of architect Douglas Ellington, designer of some of Asheville’s finest architectural treasures.
C’mon Mr. Cates! Who are you? Tell voters the truth. What do you really have in mind for Asheville? What are your ideas, or do you just claim credit for others’ work?
City Council does need fresh faces and ideas, but there is an ample selection among candidates who have spent years in community service. You, Mr. Cates, have not even fulfilled that most basic obligation of free people. You haven’t voted.
Michael N. Lewis
Mark Cates understands wants versus needs
This election is about our economy. With out-of-control spending, it’s time to top spending money we don’t have. In Asheville, we see “between” $125,000 and $175,000 for an audit of the police evidence room; $25,000 for a quarter-mile bike lane; “between” $24,000 and $40,000 for early voting (even when turnout is plummeting); and $17 million for Pack Place Park ($2 million of which the city has yet to have covered).
With officials spending like drunken sailors, it’s time for voters to step in. We have the opportunity to help politicians differentiate between “needs” and “wants.” Asheville needs jobs. The progressives in the upcoming city council election are going after wants: greenways, bike paths and sidewalks. Asheville may want those things, but before we get them we need jobs.
I’m asking conservative Democrats, independents and Republicans to vote for a single person in this race: Mark Cates. He’s the only candidate who I believe has a vision and an economic plan for our city. His No. 1 issue is jobs. Please vote on Nov. 8 for Mark Cates.
Jan Davis means business
Jan Davis is running for re-election to the Asheville City Council. I whole-heartedly support his campaign because of his record and his plans for the future. I have always seen him as a voice of reason in regard to the actions of Council. I have personally known Jan for 34 years and have always trusted his business sense, his integrity, and his good intentions. Jan does not look out for small special interest groups; his actions benefit the greater good of our wonderful city.
Jan personally supports many local sports teams — for example the Asheville Tourists and UNCA athletics. Recently he was instrumental in bringing the Southern Conference Basketball Tournament back to Asheville. All of these venues bring visitors to Asheville, who eat in our restaurants, stay in our hotels and shop in our stores.
For the future of our city, please consider Jan Davis when you vote early or on Nov. 8.
I’m going Gray
It’s not every day you get the opportunity to vote for a candidate as refreshing and inspiring as Lael Gray. This July, I kept waiting for a candidate I could wholeheartedly support to come along. While I have closely monitored local political races for years, Lael is the only Asheville City Council candidate who has ever inspired me enough to get out and volunteer with a campaign.
Both the Sierra Club and People Advocating for Real Conservancy have endorsed Lael and her commitment to the environment. Lael serves on the board of directors of Building Bridges, and has been an outspoken advocate for equality for all people, regardless of race or sexual orientation. Lael has a background in early childhood education and continues to serve on the board of directors of Smart Start of Buncombe County, currently chairing its Public Education Committee. In addition, Gray is a mother of two, a former small-business owner and a longtime community advocate. I urge Asheville residents to vote for Lael Gray on Nov. 8.
Lael Gray is the best
I am Lael Gray’s 10-year-old daughter and she is running for City Council. She is an advocate for the environment; she wants less cars on the road so there will be less pollution in the air, leaving crisp, healthy Asheville air. She believes in equality for women, African-Americans and the LGBT community. She participates in a group called Building Bridges ,which is a group fighting to end racism in our community. She wants to help kids get better education. She wants to try and help close the achievement gap. Lael is your top choice for City Council.
With Lael Gray, I get what I want
I want everything! I deserve everything I want! And I want a candidate who can give me that.
With Lael Gray on City Council, I get that. With Lael, I get someone who has held high positions in corporate America, someone who has been a small-business owner and someone who has worked in nonprofit management.
Lael has done it all. Lael has brought communities together through her work with Building Bridges and has advocated for supporting children’s development, both as an early childhood administrator and in her work with Smart Start. Lael Gray also cares about all of the local issues that I feel are worthwhile.
As a local activist she has made huge strides to protect our neighborhoods and ecosystem from potential damages caused by the proposed enlargement of the I26 connecter. But, most of all, Lael is an achiever who can visualize her goals and then strategically work to find the most powerful way of executing them. This is her genus. I want Asheville to continue to be an awesome place. I want my home to be a showcase city for our nation. And with Lael Gray, I get what I want!
I want to see what Pelly can do for our city
When I heard Chris Pelly was running for City Council I was thrilled! Chris has been an amazing help to me in finding my office and home. He really went above and beyond.
When I asked him to help me find an office in 2000, he searched the Multiple Listing Service and when he didn’t find what I needed, he drove around and called people who owned houses fitting the description.
He found the perfect place and my staff and I love it. He even negotiated a fair price for the property so we did not have to pay more than fair market value.
In 2010, when my family needed to move, I called Chris and he again searched high and low for the perfect place. He found a house in our budget range, which exceeded my family’s hopes and dreams for a new home.
If he is willing to go this far for a relatively small office and house purchase, I want to see what he can do for our city.
Vote the Asheville Firefighters’ Association ticket
On behalf of the Asheville Firefighters’ Association (AFFA-Local 865), I encourage Asheville residents to support public safety and vote for Jan Davis, Lael Gray and Chris Pelly in the upcoming City Council elections.
These three candidates will protect firefighter interests, thereby protecting the safety of the citizens of Asheville. Their answers to our pre-election questionnaire demonstrate they share key concerns concerning public and firefighter safety. We can only achieve both through adequate training, proper staffing and quick response. Gray, Davis and Pelly clearly recognize this reality.
Firefighting is a serious profession and we take our endorsements very seriously.
We carefully examine whom we back for public office. Among their other supportive positions, all three of our endorsed candidates favor maintaining nationally recognized minimum staffing for the city’s fire apparatus. Asheville’s firefighters train hard to respond effectively in emergencies but a busy department like ours must respond with the optimum number of firefighters on each truck.
In her questionnaire, Gray also voiced her support of firefighter training, stating: “I believe that staff development and access to training opportunities are important not only to ensure that we have a strong workforce, but also to instill pride and foster creativity on the job. I would support increasing the fire department’s training budget as funding becomes available.
Mr. Pelly also demonstrated commitment to Asheville’s safety when he stated in his questionnaire: “I am pleased to hear firefighters want to go above and beyond basic training and broaden their certifications. I think it is in the interest of the city of Asheville to find a way to match training costs, offer scholarships or otherwise support firefighters seeking to broaden their professional skills.
As vice president of the Asheville Firefighters Association, I again encourage voters to support these three candidates in the November general election.
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