- Website: joegrady.com
- Employment: Sales specialist & Community Commander at Best Buy, Former Keller Williams real estate broker; former City Council member in North Canton, Ohio.
- Party affiliation: Registered unaffiliated, has voted in a democratic primary
- Previous candidacy: Not in Asheville; was top vote-getter for 3 years in Ohio
What are three achievable goals that you would champion in the next two years?
First, I would address solutions for affordable housing. That will involve challenges and sacrifices for the entire community. Second, maintain public services and become the leader in providing public services in N.C. The fire, EMS and police departments need our support so they can do the best job for our citizens. Third, build consensus within the community. We can’t pit one group against another. We can’t stop growth and time, but we can become wiser as we grow older and more experienced as a city.
What are the best strategies for increasing affordable housing in Asheville?
I am the one candidate who’s pledged to visit every street and neighborhood in the city before Oct. 6. I’m two-thirds of the way there. I’m doing that so I can say I know this city. We need to educate people that finding solutions for affordable housing affects everyone. It’s not just Section 8 housing, it’s where will college graduates working in the retail and hospitality industries live? We need to look at the Unified Development Ordinance with a view toward the next 20-25 years.
City Council didn’t stand up for the people in this city when it defended police Chief William Anderson. If he had been vetted correctly by Council, he would never have been made police chief. I realize I was not in the same position as an elected official in February 2014, but I called for his resignation at that time.
What makes Asheville home for you?
I’ve been spending time in the Asheville area since 1992. The mountains have always touched something spiritual in me. I used to drive away from Asheville back toward Raleigh or Atlanta thinking, “I don’t want to go back.” In 2000, I just did it: I moved here and made Asheville my permanent home.
Do you support expanding the tourism industry, or should we focus on other areas of economic development? Or do you think government shouldn’t play a role?
I support travel and tourism, but I’m disappointed that the Chamber of Commerce is focused on making us No. 1 at everything. It’s time to make Asheville residents No. 1. The 75 percent of hotel tax proceeds that are devoted to marketing are making outside advertising firms rich. We need to use that money for affordable housing, parks and greenways. Even if we stopped advertising altogether, people would still come to Asheville.
A recent study showed that Buncombe County had lower growth in middle-class jobs than other areas. What can the city do to address this?
We need to encourage local small businesses to become midsized businesses. We have a big gap between the lowest and highest incomes, and helping local businesses succeed and grow will lead to higher incomes for more of our residents.
With Asheville growing so fast and several new hotels being built downtown, how do you plan to address the inevitable traffic problems on city streets and I-240?
Increased traffic is already a reality. Changing certain streets (like Wall Street) to pedestrian-only from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. would help congestion. Changing other streets to one-way traffic at peak times of day should be explored.We need to work more on signalization and traffic flow, because more growth is coming whether we want it or not.