Finding the region’s next elected leaders

Politicos of all stripes have begun gearing up for a 2020 election that looks to be a broad moment of opportunity. In Asheville, ballots will include offices from president on down to City Council. Experienced campaign runners and elected officials are teaming up to try to recruit new candidates or train and encourage those already considering a run.

County approves A-B Tech funding plan in split vote

Commissioners voted 4-3 to approve a plan that dedicates $3.13 million in Article 46 tax revenues in fiscal year 2020 for capital expenses at the college. The money would keep coming in each of the next seven years, increasing 5.5 percent annually to account for anticipated increases in construction costs. The county would also cap transfers from Article 46 tax revenue to the general fund at $5 million and would limit the use of that money to operations at A-B Tech.

Buncombe County logo

Commission­ers take up question of A-B Tech funding

The A-B Tech Board of Trustees accepted a compromise earlier this month that would enable the college to address a $25 million maintenance backlog using yearly payments from revenue generated by a quarter-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2011. Commissioners will consider the proposal during their meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 19.

News briefs: County dollars go to affordable housing, economic incentives

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners doled out a $2.2 million loan for an affordable housing complex in Swannanoa and over $200,000 in economic development incentives at its Feb. 5 meeting. The city of Asheville held two public sessions seeking input on the selection of a new police chief. Residents can also weigh in via an online survey through March 1.

Electric bus

Electric city buses make public debut

Even accounting for the fossil fuels needed to generate the electricity they will use, said Council member Julie Mayfield, each vehicle will produce 54 fewer tons of annual carbon emissions than one of Asheville’s current buses. Once all five buses hit the streets, the total emissions savings of 270 tons will make up a third of the city’s annual carbon reduction target.

I-26 Connector constructi­on delayed in draft plan

The I-26 Connector project, an almost $1 billion overhaul of the highway system in and around Asheville, is one of 37 Division 13 projects that have been changed in a new draft State Transportation Improvement Program for 2020-29. The draft STIP identifies state transportation projects that will receive funding over a 10-year timeframe.

ART Station rendering

Transporta­tion projects get support at Council meeting

Four items on Council’s consent agenda aimed to improve how Asheville residents move about the city — and, thanks to a resolution supporting a statewide initiative for passenger rail in Western North Carolina, potentially across the country. The N.C. General Assembly could provide $890,000 to fund a bus connection between Asheville and Amtrak’s terminal in Salisbury.

Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center empty

Thin crowd weighs in on police chief selection

“I’m shocked, and I’m disappointed,” said one commenter who identified himself as a Southside resident about the lack of attendance from his community. “If you’re not going to show up and voice your opinion, and then when something does happen, you get in a little group and then you voice your opinion, that’s not fair. That’s not right.”

Robin Currin sworn in as Asheville City Attorney by Mayor Esther Manheimer

City OKs extra funds for outside attorneys as legal limbo continues

At Asheville City Council’s Jan. 22 meeting, Mayor Esther Manheimer said the city would re-advertise its vacant city attorney position — after she and her colleagues unanimously approved an additional $300,000 for outside legal services. The role has been filled on an interim basis by Sabrina Rockoff since the departure of Robin Currin in September.

Debra Campbell at the Council of Independent Business Owners

Campbell lays out Asheville to-dos at her first CIBO breakfast

Since leaving her previous role as Charlotte’s assistant city manager to take the Asheville job in December, Campbell said, she has focused on meeting as many community stakeholders as possible. Those discussions, she explained, have led to a slate of priorities with the common theme of making the city “the best partner that we can be.”