Letter: Scales, Miller show commitment to all people

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I am both a resident and a downtown business owner in the city of Asheville, and overpolicing, use of force and the targeting of black and brown community members are the issues that I most care about in our county sheriff and district attorney races. I care because the safety and comfort of my customers is important to me. My customers include both tourists and members of the local community.

When our city officials and Asheville Police Department use concerns over maintaining an influx of tourism dollars as an excuse for upping police budgets and increasing numbers of downtown officers, we should all be alarmed. Asheville is one of the fastest-gentrifying cities in the nation and is also, for a city of its size, one of our nation’s most overpoliced. When the experience of affluent outsiders is put above the safety and basic rights of local community members, something is very wrong.

I am not against tourism. My business wouldn’t survive without it. But clearly, our city’s present growth rate is unsustainable. Too little thought and investment have gone into infrastructure to support this growth and respect the needs of our hardworking local taxpayers. Buncombe County’s seal reads “People to Match Our Mountains.” And it is the beautiful mountains and the strong, creative, resilient people who make Asheville what it is.

We need leaders who believe in putting people before profit. We need people who especially recognize the disparity within the “State of Black Asheville,” people who seek tangible, equitable solutions. We need leaders like DA candidate Ben Scales and Buncombe County sheriff candidate Quentin Miller. Both of these men have shown a commitment to all our great people. Both have shown they are not afraid to speak up and bring much-needed change to our criminal justice system.

— Elizabeth Schell

Editor’s note: Schell reports that she did some canvassing for Miller earlier in the campaign season.


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4 thoughts on “Letter: Scales, Miller show commitment to all people

  1. Richard B.

    Ah, Elizabeth, what a wily way to get in a plug for your favorite candidates. I was wondering, as I read your article, where you were going, simply because it seemed like quite a stretch from more tourism dollars to more “overpolicing”. Not only is it a stretch, it is irrational thinking. Not only would your business not survive without tourism, neither would it survive without adequate policing.

    Listen, I go downtown. I see the drug use, the in and out of towners hanging out, looking for a quick fix and money to get it.

    What you stunningly fail to recognize is that the crime rate has been surprisingly low. Seldom do we hear of muggings, threatening and drunken behavior, public defecation, etc., that is so common in other cities with a rapid growth rate with all kinds of folks visiting.

    I will also add a perspective that is obviously contrary to yours. There are very rare occurrences of blatant police bias against people of color, and you, like many others with an agenda, take a recent event and postulate it as the norm, rather than the exception. You therefore gin up more divisiveness and blind hate, go deeper into the hole of identity politics, showing neither compassion for each person as an individual with their own history and perspective, nor understanding of the complexity of personal bias, mixed with experience, misguided perspectives, and a dose of paranoia.

    On the other hand, I could not agree more with you concerning local government (mis)management of this growth, and I quote your all too true observation… “Too little thought and investment have gone into infrastructure to support this growth and respect the needs of our hardworking local taxpayers”. Now THIS is what we should all be alarmed about.

    • Shurf

      Why do all of Asheville’s problems end up on the shoulders of Buncombe County? The problems are in Asheville. And your candidate is currently working there. Do we really want an APD officer running Buncombe County. -Shurf

      • Richard B.

        Excellent point. It’s obvious, but somehow missed that Ms. Schell describes an Asheville City situation, then inexplicably segues to the election of BC officials. Strange indeed.

    • Sean Puckett

      Actually the chance of becoming a victim of violent crime in Asheville is 1 in 18 which is higher than 92% of communities in NC. I worked in public mental health in Asheville for 11 years and I can assure you I saw plenty of examples of police targeting people based on race as well as targeting the homeless or people they believed to be homeless.

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