Esther Manheimer (I)
Occupation: Mayor, lawyer
Previous candidacy: Asheville mayor, 2013; Asheville City Council, 2009
Affiliations: Beth Ha-Tephila Congregation, member; Jewish Community Center, member; Pisgah Legal Services, volunteer attorney; North Carolina Metropolitan Mayors Coalition, chair; General Federation of Women’s Clubs of NC Women of Achievement Award honoree (2014); Pisgah Legal Services Most Valuable Mountain Area Volunteer Lawyer (2012); YWCA of Asheville TWIN Award honoree (2009); North Carolina Bar Association William Thorp Pro Bono Service Award nominee (2007)
Why are you running for mayor?
I love this place we call home. I love and care about the people here. I seek re-election because I want to preserve what makes Asheville special. I commit to strategically manage growth, protect our resources from Raleigh’s overreach and ensure all voices are included in shaping our future.
What relevant experience makes you a good candidate for mayor?
Energetic, strategic, inclusive service on City Council since 2009; as mayor since 2013. Successfully defended our water system from Raleigh’s takeover attempt. I’ve learned to apply my experience in diplomacy, negotiation and professionalism to the position of mayor; it helps me find ways to partner with others to achieve more.
What do you bring to the position other candidates don’t?
I am the only woman, the only Democrat, and the incumbent. I bring a vast amount of knowledge and experience with city issues. I’ve learned by listening, engaging in dialogue, and service — from early jobs such as Meals on Wheels coordinator to pro bono representation for indigent clients.
What three achievable goals would you champion in the next two years?
Greater equity in the city’s service delivery, contracting, employment, capital investment (hired equity manager). More affordable housing (leveraging $25 million bond funds). Management of growth and economic development to increase livability in keeping with our community’s vision for quality jobs, quality education, safe neighborhoods, vibrant downtown.
What are the challenges and opportunities facing a mayor of a majority-Democratic city in a majority-Republican state?
More than ever, cities must work together. As NCMM chair, I bring cities together to find common ground with legislators and to fight when we have none. I believe in talking across the aisle; listening gives you a chance to avoid conflict and achieve a better outcome for your community.
What makes Asheville home to you?
Community, family, friends, the beautiful mountains. Asheville is where my parents made our home. It’s the place that I’ve chosen to have a family and grow deep roots. This community is all our home, and I am conscious of that every day I do my job as your mayor.
Is the city effectively managing its finances?
Should the city do more to manage the pace of hotel development?
Should the city ease its restrictions on short-term residential rentals?
Is the Buncombe County TDA contributing its fair share to help the city manage the impact of tourism?
Should the city budget more money to support nonprofit grassroots initiatives?
Should more resources be allocated to the Asheville Police Department?
Should the city implement election districts for seats on City Council?
Has city staff been sufficiently transparent about the increase in costs for the River Arts District Transportation Improvement Project?
Should the Haywood Street property across from the Civic Center be green space only?
Are the city’s current affordable housing strategies sufficient?