While his candidacy for the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners was just announced, Robert Pressley says he’s been doing reconnaissance work for a few months now. “I’ve been to the last three county commissioner meetings, sitting in the back, listening, learning and listening to what the people are concerned about. So if I get the opportunity, I will have a better hold of what’s going on,” he says.
So how did the opportunity to run for the District 3 short-term seat, vacated by Miranda DeBruhl, come about? Pressley says he’s been looking for opportunities for greater civic involvement noting, “I’ve been paying close attention to what’s going on within our county and seeing where I could be of service.”
Pressley was unanimously approved as the candidate by GOP leadership last week. He’s best known from his career as a NASCAR driver and the owner of Celebrity’s Hot Dog. “My name recognition within the county is strong… The racing world is where I’m most popular,” says the former Sprint Cup Series driver. However, Pressley concedes there is work to be done in getting his name synonymous with politics.
At this point, Pressley is not ready to outline specific platform issues, noting he’s more focused on making the rounds. “People are concerned about so much that’s going on, but no particular thing that I really want to touch on… What I’ve been doing the past four or five days is just meeting people, letting them know that I have accepted the nomination to run.”
In regard to concerns with the overall performance of the board, which is controlled by Democrats, Pressley doesn’t speak directly to that, but notes, “As a county commissioner, Joe Belcher has done a great job in our district,” adding, “People want to know more of what’s going on.”
Pressley also believes his NASCAR experience will be an asset in helping craft a budget. “We dealt with multi-million dollar sponsorships. That means knowing what we can do with what we’ve got, without putting ourselves in a position to spend more than what we’ve got.”
He also says as a small business owner he’s learned to listen and respond to the needs of others. “With a small business you have employees, and that’s a big deal to us. We have regular meetings with them asking what we can do to make our business better, how we can treat the customers and employees better.”
This is Pressley’s first time running for office. He will face Democrat David King in November’s election. King previously served one term on the Board of Commissioners as a Republican prior to switching his party allegiance. The winner will serve a two-year term. Normally district races are staggered, but this election was triggered by DeBruhl’s departure.
District 3 also features Belcher versus Democrat Ed Hay, a former member of Asheville City Council, running for the regularly scheduled four-year term. District 3 represents the western-most part of the county, including Enka and Leicester.