Asheville City Council member Kelly Miller announced today that he was withdrawing from the City Council race. Standing on the steps of Asheville City Hall with wife Kate at his side, Miller said he would not seek to retain the seat he was appointed to last December. He said that he would serve the rest of his term on Council, but that his wife’s recent diagnosis with cancer was the deciding factor in leaving the race, adding he said he had spent the previous evening accompanying her during a seven-hour chemotherapy session.
“The most important place for me to be is not on the campaign trail, it’s by my wife’s side,” he said.
Miller’s announcement was attended by reporters, campaign organizers and some of Miller’s Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce Colleagues. Mayor Terry Bellamy attended as well. The Council member said he would not endorse any other candidates running in the November general election, but called for the candidates “to keep the focus on the city’s issues, not on personal politics.”
Miller placed fourth in a field of six in Tuesday’s primary election, behind candidates Cecil Bothwell, Gordon Smith and Esther Manheimer, but ahead of fifth-place incumbent Carl Mumpower.
Below is the press release from Miller’s campaign.
Asheville, NC: City Councilman Kelly Miller announced his withdrawal from the City Council race today on the steps of City Hall. Miller, appointed to fill the seat vacated by former Councilwoman Holly Jones when she was elected to the County Commission, will continue to serve on City Council through the completion of his current term, which ends in December 2009.
In his remarks, Miller cited the experience and balance he brought to the council’s debate, policy setting and fiscal oversight. He also reflected on the positive changes that have occurred during his term, including approval of the downtown Master Plan, working to rid the city of graffiti-vandalism, the Nuisance Court, and creating a streamlined budget in very tough economic times.
Miller then shared his very personal reason for withdrawal: “What I did not know when I filed my candidacy was that my wife, Kate, had cancer,” said Miller. “Within a very few weeks of the filing date, the doctors sat us down and prescribed a course for the months ahead. We have told very few people about Kate’s illness. She is a lovely, independent woman who preferred that this news remained private. We both believed that the campaign and thinking forward about our community would keep us hopeful and energized as we faced the personal challenges ahead.”
“Yesterday, I sat with Kate through the second long day of chemo. And now I know what so many other families have painfully learned: that dealing with cancer is very, very hard and that, when it is someone you love, you must be there for them. You need to help them, in every way, stay stress- free, positive and as hopeful as possible.
“Kate has been wonderful in her understanding, shared commitment and support of my varied roles as a husband, father, businessman, volunteer and city council member. So much so, that this decision to withdraw from the council race, has been incredibly difficult. It has been an honor and privilege to serve the citizens of Asheville.
“But after much reflection and prayer, I’ve decided that the most important place for me to be right now isn’t on the campaign trail. It’s by my wife’s side. I need to stand by her as she has stood by me. I need to keep her life as free of stress as I can.”
Miller then thanked his supporters for their generous contributions of time, money and effort, concluding with his decision not to make a public endorsement of any candidates for the race, offering that it is his hope that “the true winners will be the good citizens of Asheville.”
He then called on the candidates and their supporters in the race to raise the level of public discourse. “Lift your sights and keep the focus on the city’s issues, not personal politics,” said Miller. “Our citizens deserve that from you. Over the course of my professional career, I’ve learned that it is possible to disagree without being disagreeable. And while spirited, passionate debate is part of the process, at the end of the day, the best results are achieved through reason, compromise and an enduring spirit of collaboration.”