Sustaining community: A conversation with Asheville City Council member Kim Roney

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.

“As a current Council member, I’m dedicated to representing working, poor and compassionate people, and to demanding accountability as unchecked tourism extracts our resources and burdens our infrastructure,” Kim Roney told Xpress during the March primary. Roney, who has served on Council since December 2020 and ran for mayor in 2022, was the top vote getter in the spring race. Come November, the incumbent 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?

Roney: There are lots of things we can’t do, but are we doing what we can? From budgets and policies that match our community values, to speaking up for our residents when the N.C. General Assembly’s priorities are legislating hate or greed, to land use decisions that get us to the aspirational goals in our Living Asheville Comprehensive Plan — we have a community that cares and that’s eager to have our back when we have theirs! For me, that means having the courage to say no when needed and the consistent leadership to say yes to taking better care of the people of Asheville and our mountain home. That said, we aren’t saviors, we’re your neighbors, and we need the public to engage. As your Council member, I’m committed to sharing the necessary work ahead and I believe we are capable of better.

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?

As a music educator and former service industry worker, my heart aches with my students, their families and our community struggling through overlapping crises.

Being accessible and building relationships is key to shared accountability and shared success. We can inform ourselves on best practices and creative initiatives, share what we learn, meet people where they are, get to know our neighbors most impacted by these serious issues and engage partners doing the work to address root causes.

Through good days and hard ones, I have enjoyed building relationships by sharing food and time together, from sitting around the Welcome Table to riding public transit to engaging at community events. In addition to staying in the work together when times are hard, it’s also important to model, encourage and amplify partnerships, and to celebrate our wins!

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

We must stabilize our local economy instead of relying so heavily on tourism. Partnering with the county, the city can start here — No. 1: Expand transit, bikeability, walkability and accessibility so having a car isn’t a prerequisite to accessing local businesses. No. 2: Reconfigure our affordable housing toolkits to align with smart land use, including meaningful short-term rental regulation, so locals can live close to where they work and shop. No. 3: Partner for a commercial land trust to keep commercial rentals permanently affordable. No. 4: Deliver true public safety by matching behavioral health and substance use crisis with staff uniquely qualified for the situation at hand. And No. 5: Ensure neighborhood resiliency by activating neighborhood plans and our Climate Justice Initiative to guarantee a hopeful future and stable economy for the people who live and work here.

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

I’m focused on the living wage floor in every department so we can recruit and retain staff and they can afford to live in the communities they serve. Living wages must include our firefighters, routinely left behind.

From the entry-level sanitation worker to department heads, we all pay more at the grocery store, but those making less than median wages are more likely to be renters or commute long distances. I share concern that continuing to provide across-the-board percentage raises is resulting in “wage expansion,” disproportionately favoring largest salaries. This is why I’ve requested consideration of lump-sum raises instead of percentages, so we can afford living wages without perpetuating income inequality.

If we don’t raise the floor for living wages, we knowingly expect our staff to not be able to afford housing and cost of living, and we’ll keep failing to meet basic public service expectations due to high vacancy rates.

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4 thoughts on “Sustaining community: A conversation with Asheville City Council member Kim Roney

  1. Nostupid People

    Has anyone actually researched this individuals background? I highly suggest it!!!!! I’m sure you wouldn’t won’t to make the mistake of adding to the felling chaos within our city leaders. Better our future campaign research..

    • indy499

      LOL, adding to the chaos? She’s the ringleader of chaos.

      Anti police—–led the shut down of the downtown sub station.

      Loves noise standards above health recommendations of NC and US——except not in her neighborhood

      Pro higher taxes—–every time assessments go up, she resists lowering the rate to keep taxes from soarring.

      We can do so much better

  2. Peirce

    She is such an ignorant and ineffective leader. Lets hope she doesn’t make the cut this election. Shows how dumb the voters are in this town that she even was placed on council at all.

  3. Enlightened Enigma

    Kim, it’s passed time for you to lead the way to change the name of the city, so we don’t have to live with the shame of a city named for a slave owner. Now that the monument is officially gone, it would be most hypocritical for ‘us’ NOT to change the city’s name, right ? When you gonna jump on that ?

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