On the beat: City government reporter Brooke Randle reflects on 2019

NEW TO THE TEAM: Brooke Randle joined Xpress at the start of 2019. Photo by Thomas Calder

What were your most challenging stories of 2019?

My most challenging story this year was an attempt to uncover the source of Green Opportunities’ financial struggles (avl.mx/6s6). It was a tough story to tell because there was no one issue or person at the root of the nonprofit’s problems. Rather, it was many overlapping decisions and events over several years that led to the nonprofit’s current predicament.

A close second was my investigation into why Brother Wolf’s founder stepped down from the organization (avl.mx/6s7) and how the nonprofit planned to earn back community trust after years of controversy and a shift in its mission (avl.mx/6s8).

What interview subjects stuck with you the most and why?

I had the pleasure of interviewing Howard Hanger as he prepared to retire as the minister of Jubilee! Community, the interfaith church he founded more than three decades ago (avl.mx/6s9). Hanger’s life story was delightful and inspiring, and I appreciated his refreshing take on retirement.

I also enjoyed getting to know Debra Campbell during her first year as city manager (avl.mx/6sa), as well as capturing the reactions of local veterans who participated in this fall’s Blue Ridge Honor Flight to visit service monuments in Washington, D.C. (avl.mx/6sb).

What were some of the most surprising/impactful news stories about the city government?

Like many in the community, I was surprised when our newly hired Chief of Police Chris Bailey resigned after less than two months on the job (avl.mx/6sc). I was also surprised (unlike some of our more jaded community members, perhaps) when Asheville City Council voted to allow the redevelopment of the historic Flatiron Building into a hotel despite robust community opposition (avl.mx/6sd).

What did you find to be the most interesting/important issue to cover?

I am fascinated by the complexities of Asheville’s flourishing as a tourist town, so I was riveted by the ways tourism and the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority  impact our city. I’m excited to continue to cover the TDA as the agency continues its 10-year planning process (avl.mx/601), as well as community members who advocate for changes to the structure of the state law that created and governs the authority (avl.mx/6se). I’ll also be following new hotel approval policies developed by Asheville City Council during its year-long hotel moratorium (avl.mx/6sf).

What issue are you looking forward to covering in 2020?

I’m looking forward to covering primary and general election season madness and getting to know the 2020 City Council candidates. I’m also interested to see how the N.C. General Assembly will react to the city’s decision to reverse the state-imposed district election system for City Council candidates (avl.mx/6sg).


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