- Employment: Retired
- Party affiliation: Registered unaffiliated, votes in democratic primaries
- Previous candidacy: Former Asheville mayor and city manager
What are three achievable goals that you would champion in the next two years?
I would cut the tax rate by 3 1/2 cents. I would review two key planning documents (the Five Year Capital Improvement Plan and the 2025 Plan) and get back to focusing on providing basic city services. Finally, I would do a more in-depth analysis than current City Council members have been doing on the annual budget presented by the city manager.
What are the best strategies for increasing affordable housing in Asheville?
First of all, don’t raise taxes, fees and rates all in the same year, as Council has done the past two years. Landlords pass those costs on to tenants, which means the city has been part of the problem rather than the solution. We should also involve landlords and employers in dealing with this crisis. We are finding different ways to build more cheaply, smaller and more efficiently, so we need to re-examine our old ways of doing things.
I disagree with City Council’s handling of the demise of Pack Place. I would have kept that organization in place and continued the lease between the city and Pack Place. I would not have used tax money to fund renovations of the Asheville Art Museum. I was a consultant to Pack Place for 18 months; I resigned so I could speak independently about my views on how the city mishandled this situation.
What makes Asheville home for you?
I was born here. I’ve lived enough different places to know this is the best place to be. I’ve devoted at least a third of my career to serving citizens of Asheville in different capacities, from 1964 through 1994.
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?
Our economy used to be a three-legged stool: health care, tourism and manufacturing. Now we’re lopsided: We need to restore the manufacturing leg. It’s important to be a diversified economy. Growth in Asheville has been choked by actions of the General Assembly over the past 40 years. We’ve been surrounded by a lot of small communities (Montreat, Black Mountain, Mills River, Fairview, Weaverville) which the General Assembly has permitted to incorporate, meaning we can’t grow outward.
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?
Our economy used to be a three-legged stool: health care, tourism and manufacturing. Now we’re lopsided, and we need to restore the manufacturing leg of our stool. It’s important to be a diversified economy in order to grow middle-class jobs.
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?
The major streets through and around Asheville are state-controlled, so we’re at the mercy of the state Board of Transportation there. Downtown, traffic is less of a problem than finding a parking place. I would be looking at possible new parking decks. We also need to make sure we have good sidewalks downtown.