Occupation: Firefighter, firefighting instructor
Top endorsements: Ellen Frost, commissioner; Cindy McMahon, Board of Education; Asheville Fire Fighters Association; Western North Carolina Central Labor Council; NC AFL-CIO
Xpress: What neighborhood/area do you live in? What are those residents’ concerns?
I live in the Beech Community in Reems Creek Valley. The biggest concerns I hear about are related to preserving the way of life out here and the beauty of the mountains. There’ve been concerns about logging and overdevelopment, though I have to say the concern I’ve heard most in the last year has been timely trash and recycling pickup.
What are your top concerns regarding county residents’ health? What would you support to fix those problems?
I’ve been a firefighter and EMT for 25 years, and about 80 percent of the service I’ve provided has been medical in nature. Those who call upon first responders for their medical needs are often those who can’t afford preventive medical care. I would support measures to increase wages and benefits for all Buncombe County workers, so people can better afford to care for themselves and their families.
Would you support measures to encourage job growth outside the city center? If so, what measures?
Yes. The proposed Buncombe Community Capital Fund would help encourage growth throughout the county. The fund would use county and city funding to provide loans to small businesses, and small businesses mean jobs for locals throughout the county. Also, bringing high speed Internet to the county to spur tech industry jobs in smaller communities like Weaverville and Black Mountain.
Do you support giving companies economic incentives to relocate/expand in Buncombe County? Should companies receive economic incentives even if not all the jobs they provide are living-wage?
The New York Times took a look at economic incentives and found that there’s virtually no association between economic development incentives and any measure of economic performance. Companies choose locations for a variety of reasons; incentives are seldom the driving force. I’m not suggesting that we should stop offering incentives, but it’s something we should take a long, hard look at. And all jobs tied to incentives should be 100 percent of living wage at minimum.
Given the county’s financial state, would you consider raising property taxes in the next two years? Would you try to cut the budget? If so, in what areas?
Whether we raise or lower taxes is mostly related to the needs of the people at any given time. At the same time, it’s a commissioner’s duty to spend wisely and always look for ways to do more with less. The primary function of county government is to provide services, and I don’t support cutting services at this time.
Should we consolidate the Asheville and Buncombe County school systems? Why or why not?
This question has been debated for some time; I think we should be cautious about changing something that’s currently working. There’s much at risk here, and it’s not clear that consolidation would lead to the desired cost savings. I’m also concerned that some of our students might be underserved. My message to our representatives in Raleigh would be that consolidation would not serve the children of Buncombe County.
What can and will you do to address inequality in Buncombe County?
Dodson: I believe our community possess the resources needed to effectively fight economic inequality. We need to come together with a plan for providing opportunity to everyone. This will take leadership and vision, things I bring to the table as a commissioner. The big issues of the day are providing more affordable housing options, supporting education (including expanding pre-K) and higher wages.
What do you bring to the table that your opponents can’t?
I’ve been a firefighter for 25 years. I’m an involved union member. I thoroughly believe in the democratic process and that when we come together, good things happen. This is why I’ve been so involved in organizing to get out the vote. I’ve also volunteered in schools, youth programs and building houses for those in need. I’ve demonstrated my commitment to service, my leadership and my ability to pull people together to get things done. I sincerely believe in listening to and involving others to solve problems.