David King, Democrat
Place of residence: Candler
Occupation: Farrier, self-employed
Political experience: Buncombe County Commissioner, District 3, 2012-14
Endorsements: Buncombe County Association of Educators; Sierra Club; Western North Carolina Central Labor Council
Amount of money raised: Approximately $18,000
Top three donors and amount contributed: Ted Van Duyn, $5,000; Ken Brame, $1,500; Bob and Leslie Rhinehart, $1,000
Why are you running?
I am running for District 3 County Commission because I believe county government is here to serve the citizens — not a political agenda, not special interests, but the people of Buncombe County. We have a unique opportunity to set Buncombe County on a new path for the future. We do this by first evaluating where we are and prioritizing issues in front of us; ensure education, our schools and our teachers remain a priority; and do all we can to facilitate new job creation. I am running because I believe it is a time for leaders ready to embrace the future. As we move to that future, as in seeking this office, I am committed to putting people first.
What is Buncombe County’s best path toward creating more jobs outside of the service and tourist industries? And how do you plan on making it happen?
The best path toward creating more jobs outside of the service and tourists industries requires [that] Buncombe County remains a desirable place to live. We do this by ensuring the qualities attracting people to us — our quality schools with quality teachers, and our natural environment with clean air, clean water, woodlands, farmlands and green spaces — remain a priority. The county should also continue to work closely and vigorously with the Economic Development Coalition to recruit new and good-paying businesses.
Are you in favor of using economic development incentives? If so, what kind? If not, why?
I am in favor of economic development incentives. They are one tool in a box of many tools used to bring businesses to our county. In a perfect world, we may not need incentives. At present, we don’t live in a perfect world. Our neighboring states, counties and cities use incentives to attract businesses. Without incentives, we won’t be able to compete for those businesses. Incentives can be beneficial to securing good-paying jobs and bring dollars to the county when used in a way (which they are currently) that ensures commitments beneficial to the county — such as pay, reinvestment of money and other conditions — are met before incentives are paid. Incentives, done well, should provide a win-win.
North Carolina law states footage from the Sheriff’s Department body cameras is not part of the public record. Do you agree or disagree with this decision? Why or why not?
The law concerning the footage from the Sheriff’s Department body cameras not being part of the public record is an issue I do not have strong opinions on, either pro or con. This is an issue determined by the lawmakers, law enforcement and the courts. It is my understanding some of the body camera footage is currently made available to the public. It is also my understanding civilians involved have some right of privacy. Any decision to expand or change the current law would come from lawmakers (county commissioners do not make law) or the courts. The role of commissioners is to abide by the laws on this issue or any other.
As infrastructure needs grow, would you consider using bonds to fund projects? Why or why not? And, if so, what type of bond would you pursue?
Since infrastructure needs are real and the county is very limited in the options it has to obtain funding, I would not close off any funding possibilities, like bonds, the county does have. However, the best option, bond or otherwise for funding a particular project, may not be evident until the project is presented and a funding request is made.
Does HB2 highlight the state overstepping its bounds in regard to legislating municipalities? Why or why not?
The state’s relationship with municipalities and counties is a matter of state law via the state constitution/amendments and court rulings. My feeling is, just because you can do something does not mean you should. I feel it is very important the state does not abuse its power over, or its relationship with, local governments. A more balanced approach to governing than the one we have seen lately between the state and local governments is the type of relationship I would prefer.
As development continues to boom, how can the county help ensure affordable housing for its residents?
County government does not have a solution for the very real problem of affordable housing. Most of the factors affecting affordability, such as market value, reside in the private sector. However, the county can/has supported efforts, such as the Community Development Ordinance, which offer incentives for developers in order to make it feasible to create more affordable housing. This, and other such measures, can provide a small amount of relief to the issue of affordability. I would continue to support these efforts as well as be open to finding other opportunities to help alleviate this difficult situation so many people face.
Are the current zoning policies adequate to deal with the pressures of increased development in the county?
Based on rapid and increased development all over the county, I do think current zoning polices are due for a review. Many once-rural areas of the county are now very urbanized and have very different needs from those truly rural/agriculturally oriented sections. A one-size-fits-all approach will not work for the growth and development we are experiencing. We want to meet the needs of the areas experiencing very real traffic and safety issues, while at the same time meet the needs of areas concerned with preserving the land and green spaces which make them the communities they are. We need to work diligently to ensure a quality of life beneficial to each area of the county.
What zoning designation that doesn’t currently exist would you like to see, or what is an existing but underutilized zoning designation?
In relation to zoning, I would like to see an overall review of the current designations — what is working and what isn’t — with input by the citizens and the county planning staff. If changes are to be made, and I do believe some changes are necessary in light of our rapid growth and resulting issues, input, review and planning must occur first in order to make sure we are helping the situations we feel need to be fixed.
What county-run service needs the most improvement, and how would you address it?
While serving on the County Commission, it was my experience county-run services were continually being evaluated for improvement. While all services can/should be open to improvement as an ongoing process, I am not aware of any service in need of any major improvement. That said, I would be open to input from all sources if it is felt specific improvements in any service area are needed.
What is the most important issue facing Buncombe County, and how do you plan on addressing it?
It is difficult to point to one issue facing Buncombe County as most important. Issues aren’t usually isolated. One issue — jobs, economy, education, housing — impacts another. My feeling, however, is the most challenging issue would be growth. I would work to ensure we have necessary county planning in place to meet the needs we have and needs we can anticipate in the future. I would work for a plan to protect our family farms and green spaces. I would also want to see the county doing everything possible to reduce less desirable impacts of growth on more urban/suburban areas by working to implement necessary infrastructure allowing easier biking, walking and mass transit access between all areas of the county.
How do you represent a constituency with varied political ideologies?
Political ideologies should have nothing to do with representing constituents. The responsibility inherent with being an elected official requires representing all citizens. Commissioners vow to uphold the county, state and federal constitutions, not a political party. No matter the political affiliation, we all have the same basic needs. We all benefit from good schools, good jobs, improved infrastructure, and clean air and clean water. These are not partisan issues. We represent a constituency with varied ideologies by focusing on issues like these, essential to all of us, rather than any special interest. The focus should always be on hearing all citizens and working together with fellow board members [and] making decisions beneficial to the most constituents possible.
What makes you the most qualified candidate for this position?
A background in manufacturing, small-business ownership and county government from 2012-14 gives me a good foundation to serve as a commissioner in Buncombe County. My previous service is a record of working to bring new businesses with higher-paying jobs into our county and working to retain existing industry, keeping citizens employed. I am a huge advocate of public education and helped secure funding for four new schools built in the county and city since 2012. I also worked for land conservation and a healthy environment. Perhaps more importantly, I want to work to meet the challenges synonymous with the growth and changes ahead and ensure greater opportunities for our citizens in the future, always putting people first.