Pressley revs up county commissioner campaign

Buncombe County Commission district map. The same district lines are represented in the State House of Representatives map with District 2 matching District 115.

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.


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About Dan Hesse
I grew up outside of Atlanta and moved to WNC in 2001 to attend Montreat College. After college, I worked at NewsRadio 570 WWNC as an anchor/reporter and covered Asheville City Council and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners starting in 2004. During that time I also completed WCU's Master of Public Administration program. You can reach me at

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18 thoughts on “Pressley revs up county commissioner campaign

  1. bsummers

    Have they had any luck scaring up someone to run against Brian Turner yet? Or Brownie Newman? tick-tock

    • Lulz

      Scaring up LOL? When those 4 year earlier than should be tax evaluations come in, good lawd may they wake the hell up lulz. Because I’ve simply and utterly have never seen a group of people so pathetically weak as to take the reamings they’ve been getting year after year here. And not question it.

      • luther blissett

        “When those 4 year earlier than should be tax evaluations come in”

        Once more: NC General Statutes state very plainly that assessed value must be 100% of appraised value with some exemptions for religious, educational and charitable use, and other special carve-outs for agricultural land and forests. Once more: NC General Statutes require mandatory reappraisal when the average ratio of assessed value to actual sales value drops below 0.85, and if the county hadn’t passed its own resolution, it would have been put on notice to do so by the state.

        Once more: would you put your own property on the market at its current assessed value?

        The fact that you consistently refuse to acknowledge these things suggests you aren’t willing to comment in good faith. There is a valid argument to be had about the actual rate once the reassessment is complete and the county knows its property tax base, and you’d have allies if you were to argue that it should be revenue-neutral: start making that case right now. Instead, you’re whining because some people in the county may no longer be getting away with a bill that has no resemblance to their current property value.

        • Lulz

          LOL, you mean like they were reassessed down during the crash? Get lost loon. Your BS and the people like you is why in an area of supposed spectacular growth, the taxes are rising. Simply because it’s all propped up and heavily regulated. Tired of paying for absolutely nothing that benefits me. Nothing that I get scammed out of does one bit of good except makes me pay more.

          • luther blissett

            “LOL, you mean like they were reassessed down during the crash?”

            Yeah, they were. I’ll grant you that had they been reassessed in 2010 instead of 2013, they’d be lower still, but that’s beside the point. State law requires that the property tax rate for the year after a reappraisal be revenue-neutral:


            The 2014 county budget states: “County-wide values decreased by $2.8 billion resulting in a revenue-neutral tax rate of 57.83 cents for Buncombe County.” That was roughly a 10% decline in the assessed tax base.

            For 2018, the tax rate will have to be revenue-neutral again, so properties that have sold or have a market value well above their current assessment will pay more, while those assessed closer to their market value are likely to pay less.

            Meanwhile, the C-T recently noted the disparity between assessed and market values, particularly Asheville’s large commercial and apartment buildings, such as Hotel Indigo which sold for $33m while being assessed at $13m.


            Once again you dodge the basic question: would you put your own property on the market at its current assessed value? Since you’re not willing to answer, or argue based on facts, what’s the point of paying any attention to you?

          • luther blissett

            I’ll correct myself: the NC general statutes require that a revenue-neutral rate be stated in the budget after the reassessment is complete, but not that it has to be applied. It’s the baseline.

            Start the campaign for a revenue-neutral rate in FY2018 right now (and perhaps for more than just a year) and you’ll get support from places you might not expect. Make a fuss about it during the commission elections. Might not make Wanda Greene happy, but I think it’s a reasonable commitment to demand from those seeking office.

  2. Henry


    Brian Turner’s for low taxes, and against minimum wage increases, while protecting property rights from government intrusion, along with being pro 2nd amendment. Not to mention his family has built incredible personal wealth. Did I mention he’s not in favor of high taxes?

    I think his many GOP-like qualities have kept the GOP community from feeling the need to find a business friendly representative.

    If anything, your comments just highlight that your partisan hackery and that you cannot D vs R. Even though Turner’s voting streak runs against your so called value, you’re just as happy as a clam supporting pro 2nd Amendment law makers.

    Even when it’s pro-developer Cindy Weeks getting an unprecedented 3rd term of chairmanship of the P&Z, you have barely a harsh word to say while she pushes back against stream buffer zone protections. But Holly Shriner is married to a republican? Time to dissolve the whole P&Z committee and nullify her appointment. Typical Barry.

    Maybe the best thing you can do, Barry, is to get yourself a gun and go to a tax protest to show everyone how much you love Brian Turner and the democrats.

    • bsummers

      Wow. All I did was ask if they had candidates to fill those remaining slots on the November ballot. But hey, “Henry” (or whatever your real name is), when the crazy train has a full head of steam, go for it.

        • bsummers

          When a crazy person rants, there’s nothing to deny. Come back to me with something rational.

          • Able Allen

            Let’s keep this on topic and not get personal here, please.

    • Lulz

      He’s too busy giving city council accolades even though his wallet isn’t affected. I’m sure that those pieces of garbage on council seek his comments during meeting to reaffirm their policies yet have they ever asked him to like pony up some cash too? Hell no.

  3. bsummers

    “those pieces of garbage on council”

    Is this kind of comment really OK, Able? I call someone a “vulgarist” and it gets deleted, but calling City Council members “pieces of garbage” is within the bounds of civil debate? This commenter is under moderation, so someone at XPress read that and judged it acceptable?

    • Able Allen

      They’re public figures. Different rules apply. There is a lot more room to insult elected officials without being deemed slanderous or libelous or even in bad taste- just ask any president. They also aren’t a part of this thread. If a city council member were in this thread, that would make it a direct and personal insult rather than a political view. Everybody cool off a little and keep this on topic please. And in the future, if you have moderation complaint email us. Don’t make it a discussion topic- unless it the topic of a published letter. Feel free to write us a letter to the editor about online discussion and moderation. We’re doing our best to be fair and allow free discussion. Thanks.

    • boatrocker

      Cyndi Lauper said it best-

      “but I $ee your true color$
      $hining through,
      and I $ee your true color$,
      and that’$ why I read you”


  4. bsummers

    Meanwhile, hey ‘lulz’ (if that is your real name), the AC-T is reporting that Robert Pressley would hold a bake sale or whatever it takes, to balance the County’s books:

    “I have been in racing my whole life and dealt with multi-million dollar sponsorships,” he said. “My budget theme is we cannot spend no more money than what we have. Let’s look at how we can generate money to bring into the county from any grants or donations or fundraisers or whatever.”

    Maybe slap some Pennzoil stickers on those Commissioners? Or a huge Tide detergent label on the County building? Hey, just thinking outside the box here…

  5. bsummers

    Meanwhile, the BCGOP has finally picked someone to run against Brownie Newman for Commission Chair – a businessman from Biltmore Park who has never held public office, and no one has ever heard of.

    Unless they can call the NCGA back into emergency session and pass a law making only Buncombe District 2 and 3 voters eligible to vote for Chairman, I think this one is over already.

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