Rich Lee announces second run for Asheville City Council

Lee, middle, watches the votes come in during the 2015 City Council elections with campaign operative Tim Hines (left) and Adam White (right). Photo by Virginia Daffron

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.

Questions for the campaign can be directed to or through the campaign’s Facebook page.


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About Virginia Daffron
Managing editor, lover of mountains, native of WNC. Follow me @virginiadaffron

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61 thoughts on “Rich Lee announces second run for Asheville City Council

  1. Deplorable Infidel

    Will Rich Lee have the guts to answer publicly posted questions on his website this time ? Remember when he accosted a veteran guarding the military recruiting center ? Why did he do that ?

    Four children and unmarried ? Is that correct ? Formula for government dependence ?

    • #DitchRich

      He makes his living ripping off elderly people who are dependent on government, so yes.

      • bsummers

        No, Fred “Fisher” Caudle will probably not have the guts to attack Rich Lee or anyone else under his real name.

        The fact that Rich is “unmarried” is irrelevant to whether he can do the job.

  2. Fine

    Wahoo, different person, same as everyone else. City council is made of people who bring nothing new to the table except higher fees and taxes. Rich Lee will be no different. I didnt vote for him the first time and certainly won’t this time around.

  3. #DitchRich

    Rich Lee is a hateful, virtue-signalling bigot who has no place telling others how to live. He will push an extremist agenda detrimental to the lives of ALL Ashevillians. A vote for Rich Lee is a vote for racism and destruction. Do not be fooled by his meek demeanor. He is a power hungry monster.

    • George

      Virtue signaler? That’s ironic coming from you, a self-described online freedom fighter, Chad.

  4. Deplorable Infidel

    HA! So glad I’m not in the minority opinion on this !!! We MUST defeat him in this race.

    • Virginia Daffron

      Do you have a specific question or concern? Rich Lee is a public figure who has been and will be a candidate for elected office.

      • luther blissett

        Does a former city council candidate and long-time local political operative count as a public figure?

        • Virginia Daffron

          Yes. But that former candidate/political operative may or may not be the topic of the article in question. In this case, he is.

        • Peter Robbins

          Even so, Virginia, you might want to rethink whether the public interest compels you to let an unnamed reader pass along a vague allegation of financial impropriety without a little more fact-checking. A borderline call, maybe it’s okay. Robust discourse and all that. But some of these trolls can get vicious really fast, and I question how much they contribute.

  5. NFB

    I’m all for a range of opinions and viewpoints being discussed and debated but increasingly the comments section of MX has fallen so much it comes dangerously close to the level that has led many publications to abolish their comment section entirely.

    I do not know Mr. Lee, have never met him and did not vote for him in 2015 but I see little here in the “discussion” that adds anything to what he can, or cannot, contribute to City Council. Or, as Mr. Robbins so has put it:

    “some of these trolls can get vicious really fast, and I question how much they contribute.”

    As a now two time candidate for public office I would assume Mr. Lee has a fairly thick skin (although not all people who chose to be public figures do) and as a public figure he will come under criticism, but can’t MX make some effort to see to it that such criticism that is posted on their website adhere to a certain level of decorum?

    And oh, the “former city council candidate and long-time local political operative” referred to in an above post was NOT referring to Mr. Lee.

    • Virginia Daffron

      Thanks for sharing your concerns. Seeking to promote a constructive dialogue among a wide variety of perspectives is indeed our goal, and attempting to actually do it is a daily (hourly) challenge.

      I understood that the former candidate/operative was not Lee.

    • luther blissett

      Would it be permissible to say that a prominent local chef served overpriced garbage from a dirty kitchen, or that a notable alternative health practitioner was a woo-peddling quack, as long as they were the subject of the article?

      As NFB implies, the “public figure” standards are broader for those in or seeking public/political office, but if the MX threshold for allowing disparaging comments is “would probably not meet the definition of libel in a court of law” — demonstrated by the evidence-free accusations of criminality regularly flung out here at elected officials, regardless of whether they’re the subject of articles — then you’re just declaring it a free space for slanderers.

      • The Real World

        Ok, this is just too precious. We have 3 commenters (P Robbins, NFB and l blisset) who are so deeply bothered about negative posts written about Rich Lee. Why are they so “concerned”? Simple, it’s because he’s a Democrat. If he were Unaffiliated or a Republican, they would be UNconcerned and would not comment. It’s pure partisanship and hypocrisy. Different day, same stuff.

        Case-in-point is all 3 of them jumping all over a recent opinion letter written to this paper by a former council member who happened to be a Republican. They put forth NO valid points or rebuttals and didn’t seem to even understand what they were commenting on. It was pure emotional, knee-jerk reactionary spouting.

        NFB – you’re so concerned with the tone or tactics by commenters on MtnX? You need to go back and re-read your own statements. Are they reasonable, charitable, adding of any facts or useful reasoning? Most I’ve seen are immature and purely biased. You are the pot calling the kettle black. If you want to see improvement in the discourse here, it starts with you.

        • Peter Robbins

          Oh, great. Nobody would have dared to make unsupported allegations of impropriety against Republican and unaffiliated candidates if they thought they were going to have me on their case. Now that they know they have a pass, it’ll be Katie bar the door. Good going, blabbermouth.

          • Peter Robbins

            And another thing: I admit that some of us did have a little fun with Dr. Mumpower’s letter about the Women’s March. But you have to admit he set something of a jovial tone himself with all that talk at the beginning about lava lamps and troll dolls. Speaking of which, I was going to point out that one of those dolls had orange skin and crazy yellow hair and an ugly little frown, but then I decided it would only give Ivanka a marketing idea that might hurl the country into yet another conflict-of-interest crisis. So I put America first.

        • luther blissett

          “all 3 of them jumping all over a recent opinion letter written to this paper by a former council member who happened to be a Republican.”

          Dr Mumpower was busily mansplaining how “mature women” ought to spend their time and energy. The simplest rebuttal is that if you assume women have autonomy, which I’ll admit is difficult for some people here, it’s none of his damn business. Also, the hats look a little like a cat’s ears. Not a vagina.

          Did anybody suggest that his psychology practice rips off its clients? That he used his time on city council for publicity and personal gain? No. And yet it’s considered acceptable to toss out accusations of criminality and say “someone should investigate” various public figures in the city and county without any evidence. If you can’t grasp the difference, then that’s your problem.

          • The Real World

            Peter – the point being (since you didn’t seem to understand it the first time) is that if a Democrat had written that exact letter about the women’s march you would have made NO disparaging or snipey comments. And, if Mumpower (a Repub) recently announced a run for council and seemingly unfair comments were made about him and his candidacy on this site, you’d say nothing or jump on the beat-down bandwagon. All purely juvenile, hypocritical partisan politics.

            It has been made abundantly clear on this website and countless other venues that you all have a different sets of standards that you apply depending on something as simplistic as party affiliation. (Gee, you can be a first-class moron but as along as you’re a Dem, you are a-okay. Yay!) Clearly, a huge swath of America rejects THAT HYPOCRISY as the substantial swing to the right nationwide indicated. Where is your most basic decency?

          • The Real World

            luther – weak attempt at deflecting. You’re fooling no one except those who can’t comprehend a linear thought. Bet you’ve got them with ya!

            And how old are you anyway that you don’t understand what an opinion is? I’ll state this real simple-like for you — FACTS and OPINIONS are not the same thing.

            I support gay marriage and I feel that women could pursue their issues in much better/more effective ways than stomping the pavement with placards and silly hats. Those are both opinions and you have no place to declare either wrong or bad. Do you get the simple premise that neither are facts? Are you adult enough to admit your inaccurate comprehension?

          • Peter Robbins

            Real World — Go ahead and make some unfair comments about Republicans so I can practice not caring about them. I don’t want to mess up this up, as it appears to be a key element of the Matrix future you are programming for the universe.

          • luther blissett

            “FACTS and OPINIONS are not the same thing.”

            This is true. The rest of your comment is chaff.

            Scroll through this thread and check off the things that are asserted as facts, and the things offered as opinions. If someone were to say “The Real World adopts dogs from the shelter and turns them into sausages for food trucks”, would you consider that an opinion or slander asserted as fact?

  6. Deplorable Infidel

    MtnXpress used to have the best local stand alone public online forum going but they shut it down, so this method of each article commenting survives. It’s true freedom of speech still available.

  7. Matt Christie

    I don’t normally comment here (or on the Citizen-Times) because, well, see sock puppet slander above, but this is great news for Asheville.

    Thanks for writing it up! Asheville is tremendously lucky to have such a thoughtful and capable person running for office.

    Recalling that last time as a little-known entity he was endorsed and supported by an impressively diverse array of prominent grassroots community members, as well as Representative Susan Fisher.

    • Deplorable Infidel

      yes, those that support Lee are part of the big problem, locally…especially Susan Fisher, lifelong do nothing ‘crackkk House ‘rep’ …
      sorry, but liberal progressive democrackkks have ruined AVL and Buncombe Co.

    • Fin

      Ah yes Matt Christie, start with an insult. Another West Ashvillian that thinks they know best for the entire city. I remember that citizen times article in which you complained about how much you had to work, to afford to live here, exact quote doesn’t come to me but it was something like I wanted to go boating. Ahhh good times. Complaining about the cost of this city while pushing gentrification by voting for the types of people who raise taxes and fees every chance they get. Green ways among other things are great, but they ultimately raise the cost of living in the city . The irony, oh the irony.

      • Matt

        Boy, you sure have me pegged, Fin, if that is your real name. To think, I never thought of that irony before. Deep, man! Thanks.

        That article did make me sound like a bit of a whiner, didn’t it? Daring to complain about an unequal recovery/boom, policies not aggressive enough in addressing the growing wage gap, or the evisceration of the working/middle class. More people than ever working more hours for less basic economic security, that sort of thing. Doesn’t mean we aren’t lucky here. Yes, greenways are indeed nice. Kudos to our local officials for securing so much additional funding to help make this such a desirable place to live and raise families. And for seeking to address the affordability crisis at the same time! There’s much more work to be done.

        What are your ideas?

        Also, speaking of whining, do you do this anonymous comment trolling gig full time or is it merely pro bono?

  8. SpareChange

    My efforts will be primarily focused on defeating Sir Cecil of Bothwell in his likely run for mayor. As Asheville’s own little political narcissist, his phony posturing has carried him a long way. While once a useful gadfly when the council was more in the hands of people like Mumpower, his divisive and entirely personalistic political style makes every issue that comes along all about him and his desire to power trip. I’m hopeful that progressives in Asheville will increasingly wake up to the fact that his divisive approach to governance is only hurting the city.

    • Lulz

      Bond debt coupled with insane spending, phony fees and huge tax increases at the cost of residents is what’s hurting the city. Please make Asheville a sanctuary city per Bothwell’s views. I want the Feds to cut off the funding just so the final nails get hammered in. Merely because without subsidies, the buses stop running along with a myriad of non profits who simply go away.

  9. All these strong opinions coming from anonymous cowards. Why is it that those who seem to have the most negative opinions of Mr. Lee are too afraid to personally stand by those statements?

  10. Samantha Bowers

    I read through Rich Lee’s website and am impressed by the depth he goes into with the numerous listed issues. He has taken the time to truly research what works, what doesn’t and has well thought out ideas for changing Avl for the better. With his last campaign, I also was impressed by his willingness to meet with folk about what was affecting them. I witnessed his competent and balanced responses to people’s concerns. Lee has my support.

  11. Fin

    Yes, another city council member from North Asheville! Diversity and representation for all.

    • Peter Robbins

      I am, too. I didn’t agree with him on the St. Lawrence Green issue, but I thought he undertook an extremely thorough and impressive analysis of the costs and benefits. His independence and candor may have cost him that election, but didn’t the same thing happen to Lincoln once or twice?

    • Deplorable Infidel

      huh? he was simply courting you for support…he knows the water is safe.

      • bsummers

        “Huh” yourself. I said “during his last run”, meaning two years ago. The City was just then going in front of the NC Court of Appeals – it was not at all sure that the water was “safe”.

        And of course he was courting us for our support. That’s what candidates for office do. He displayed competence on a range of issues, not just the water.

        Hey Fred Caudle, you could display your level of competence on the issue – you could run for Council yourself.

        • Peter Robbins

          Indeed. A few great minds were so certain the city would lose the case that they thought it was a waste of money to even put up a fight. Remember them? Some were so obnoxious they got banned from people’s Facebook pages.

        • Deplorable Infidel

          ROFL! I don’t vote for lieberal progressives regardless. Progressives are totally sketchy people, and they likely turn into elected criminals if given the chance …

        • Peter Robbins

          Good point. One way to judge a man’s character is to take a good look at who his detractors are.

  12. SpareChange, like most anonymous trolls you are astonishingly ill-informed. Anyone who suggests I might run for mayor is on some kind of drug that is probably illegal.

  13. Deplorable Infidel

    LOL…exactly what I thought too, Cecil! Actually, since Carl Mumpower’s term , Bothwell has been somewhat a voice of reason on council, given the presence of the ‘others’ …

  14. CDen

    I went to his website, thou he may seem genuine, I found details lacking about what he can do to help this city and what he can offer, being on city boards doesn’t mean he qualified to be on council. There is plenty of time and maybe I will change my view.
    It seems that the idea of fees and taxes don’t add to the affordability issues. Wont higher fees and taxes be passed on to renters? It comes from all sides, first the higher fees (trash, water,car,breathing asheville air, last one is a joke) then the bonds passing, now property reevaluations.
    Thank you Virginia for another quality article.

    • bsummers

      being on city boards doesn’t mean he qualified to be on council

      What qualification would you accept? It seems to me that many current and past Council members of various political stripes have gotten there with less relevant experience, and done a fine enough job.

  15. Deplorable Infidel

    Rich Lee hates the military and American VETERANS as evidenced by his previous acts against a veteran in public.

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