Rich Lee, the fourth-place finisher in the 2015 Asheville City Council elections (meaning he missed out on a seat by 738 votes) has announced he will run again in 2017.
Lee is an financial adviser with Edward Jones. Prior to the 2015 elections, Lee sat on the Greenway Committee, on which he continues to serve. In early 2016, Lee was appointed by City Council to the city’s Multimodal Transportation Commission.
Three seats on Asheville’s City Council will be up for grabs in 2017, as well as the mayoral spot. Council member Gordon Smith has announced he will not seek reelection, while Council members Cecil Bothwell and Gwen Wisler — along with Mayor Esther Manheimer — have not yet declared their intentions.
The terms of the three Council members elected in 2015 — Brian Haynes, Julie Mayfield and Keith Young — run through 2019.
Lee joins Kim Roney and Vijay Kapoor in having declared his intention to run; the official filing process for the election won’t take place until the summer. Several sources have also named Sheneika Smith as a likely candidate.
Statement from Rich Lee’s campaign website:
ASHEVILLE, NC (2/7/17) – 2015 Asheville City Council candidate Rich Lee announced a second bid for the office Tuesday. In a letter on a new campaign website, Rich writes, “the city still struggles to be an affordable and sustaining home to many. The character of the community is more threatened than ever by traffic, a weak job market, adverse legislation and the impacts of being a highly-commodified tourism economy.”
“But I have hope. It’s clearer than ever that the root thing that makes this ‘Asheville’ to all of us is the feeling of a genuine, diverse, working, small town,” he writes, “a place that feels beautiful and authentic… [That] core character can be saved.”
The new website includes detailed policy proposals around affordability, diversity, parks and greenways, infrastructure, local businesses, and other local issues. They emphasize neighborhood-level decisionmaking and support for small businesses and homeowners over large, out-of-area interests. “Infrastructure should keep pace with development,” says the site’s Issues page, “or development should be delayed.”
Rich is a member of Asheville’s Multimodal Commission and Greenway Committee, and serves on a number of small committees around city parking and transportation issues. He is Vice President of the Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods and a former founding board member of the East West Asheville Neighborhood Association, where he helped lead a campaign to reroute factory trucks off of Haywood Road. The 2015 City Council race saw him finish first runner-up out of a crowded field of sixteen.
Of that experience, he says, “I learned a lot about what not to do. It was a difficult time personally, as well as the rigor of the campaign. But the experience was clarifying. You can see residents want a robust local government to step in where the market fails us. People want to feel the city has their back.”
“I’m relaxed and focused. It’s going to be a good race,” he says.
A mountain resident for 20 years, Rich works as a financial advisor specializing in socially-responsible investments. He lives in Haw Creek with his partner Lindsay and their four children.