Sustaining community: A conversation with Asheville City Council candidate Kevan Frazier

Kevan Frazier

Editor’s note: As part of Xpress’ monthlong Sustainability Series, we reached out to all candidates running for Buncombe County Board of Commissioners as well as Asheville City Council. Conversations with those who participated will appear throughout our four April issues.

“Folks want to be part of a community they feel has their back. That’s the community that I want us to build,” Kevan Frazier told Xpress during the March primary. Frazier, owner of Well Played Games and executive director of Western Carolina University’s programs at Biltmore Park, received the third-most votes in the spring race. Come November, he will be vying for one of three open seats.

Asheville City Council meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 5 p.m. in the Council chambers located on the second floor of City Hall. The elected body approves the city’s annual budget and determines the tax rate, among other responsibilities. To learn more about Council’s role and authority, visit

Xpress: What misconceptions do community members have about the role of Asheville City Council?

Frazier: It may be the case that I have misconceptions — I am a community member, and some things you only learn by doing, even if you have studied and trained in advance. This is my first campaign seeking election to serve on City Council. I grew up here and have noticed how the city has and hasn’t changed during my lifetime. I work in community and economic development through my job at WCU, and I am an urban historian. That gives me a perspective that our city is often slower than it needs to be to make changes in service to our community. We often study an issue as if we are the first city to consider it. More often we are the last. We have the responsibility to set a course for our community and rely on city staff to deliver on the objectives and goals that we’ve set together.

What can local leaders do to promote thoughtful community dialogue about complex and difficult topics such as the opioid crisis, crime, housing and health care? 

It is important for leaders at all levels, elected and unelected, to model the behaviors that we want and expect to see from our fellow neighbors. We can begin by listening and treating all our neighbors with respect. We have to let go of whatever preconceived notions we may have about people based on what they look like, where they come from, how they sound, who they are, who they love and what they have to say. Also, leaders have to be in the mindset that we are here to solve problems. Sometimes we come up with new ideas but more often we facilitate conversations and interactions that surface and allow us to test ideas. Then we choose a path forward. Following dialogue at the City Council level, it’s then the city manager’s responsibility to deliver through policy implementation, management and leadership.

What can the city and county do to help small businesses thrive?

We can take practical steps and be responsive rather than reactionary. For example, the county parking deck program for downtown employees appears to be a popular and useful program that is helping meet a need. The city also made reasonable adjustments to benefit small businesses regarding the use of sidewalks and parking during the pandemic. There are more steps we can take. The city has a great team in the planning and permits office, but they are working with outdated regulations that are hard to navigate and at times contradictory. As a small-business owner, navigating this system has been expensive both in money and time. I see a need to streamline regulations and processes to make them accessible and affordable for small businesses. City Council needs to dialogue with small-business owners, their employees and their neighbors and give clear direction and support to the city manager.

If you could give raises to one city department, which department would you like to see receive it and why? 

To help ensure that residents receive top-quality city services, the City of Asheville must be a model employer in the region in regard to pay, benefits, working conditions, equity and overall job satisfaction. As part of this, the city has already begun a deep review of compensation for all city employees, and if elected, I would support that continued effort to make sure that all city staff receive competitive wages and benefits.

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3 thoughts on “Sustaining community: A conversation with Asheville City Council candidate Kevan Frazier

  1. Karla

    Kevan is a breath of fresh air. He is exactly the kind of person we need on City Council.

  2. RMC

    I have nothing against ensuring good wages, however, many of the city employees are very well paid and get top notch benefits with recent raises across the board at 5%. 6% for police– and that was one I applauded. But the impact of rising taxes to support government services, combined with otherwise ubiquitous rising living costs, do not affect wealthy residents in the same way they do the middle class. It should be a consideration in Asheville’s future and in light of the constant conversations about who can and cannot afford to live here.

    • indy499

      In the business world, owners/employers look at attition as a key component of wage setting. The city either doesn’t do that, or never publishes attrition data. Without it, one has no idea whether raises are warranted or not.

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