Rich Lee

Rich Lee, Asheville City Council candidate.

Rich Lee
richworksfor.me

Occupation: Financial adviser

Previous candidacy: 2015 City Council (first runner-up)

Affiliations: Democrat

Short-answer questions

Why are you running for City Council?
From traffic and infrastructure to job growth and housing, the city is looking for proactive, pragmatic leadership. We want a visionary Council, yes, but one that knows how to work ideas through the bureaucracy and keep them on budget. I’ve spent years learning how to get things done here.

What relevant experience makes you a good candidate for City Council?
I’m a financial planner. I write budgets for workers and retirees who struggle with rising costs and stagnant incomes. I’m also a fiduciary — legally, I can’t allow conflicts of interest to influence my judgment. And I’m a returned Peace Corps volunteer and longtime neighborhood leader.

What do you bring to City Council that other candidates don’t?
I’ve been both an outsider lobbying the city to make changes when it was reluctant to and a member of several city commissions and committees working items through the budget process. I’ve been on both sides of the dais, on more issues than I can count.

What three achievable goals would you champion in the next two years?
First, incorporate neighborhood goals into the upcoming rewrite of the zoning code. Second, launch a pilot participatory budget program that gives each area of the city control over budget funds. Third, pass a legal framework that lets neighborhood volunteers build parks and greenways on city-owned land.

What is one recent City Council decision you don’t agree with and how would you have handled it differently?
I still feel approval of the apartment complex on Fairview Road was one we’ll regret as a city. But I’ll add to that the decision to reduce the number of affordable apartments in the embattled Eagle Market project. Council should have fought harder to keep them in.

What makes Asheville home to you?
I’ve lived in WNC the past 20 years. Despite all the growth, this still feels like an accessible small town you can make a difference in. My kids are elementary-age, and I want this to stay a place they can live and work in, whatever careers they choose.

Yes-or-no questions

Is the city effectively managing its finances?
No.

Should the city do more to manage the pace of hotel development?
Yes.

Should the city ease its restrictions on short-term residential rentals?
No.

Is the Buncombe County TDA contributing its fair share to help the city manage the impact of tourism?
No.

Should the city budget more money to support nonprofit grassroots initiatives?
Yes.

Should more resources be allocated to the Asheville Police Department?
Yes.

Should the city implement election districts for seats on City Council?
Yes.

Has city staff been sufficiently transparent about the increase in costs for the River Arts District Transportation Improvement Project?
No.

Should the Haywood Street property across from the Civic Center be green space only?
No.

Are the city’s current affordable housing strategies sufficient?
No.

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About Carolyn Morrisroe
Carolyn Morrisroe served as news editor and reporter at Mountain Xpress. Follow me @CarolynMorrisro

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