Letters to the editor

Let’s see a Christian Pride Day

As a pagan high priest and ordained minister, I challenge Asheville’s Christian community to hold a Christian Pride Day. I have heard and read much criticism from the Christian community about Asheville’s recent Pagan Pride Day. The pagan community (which includes Native American, Celtic, African, Asian and many other traditions) came together to demonstrate and share their diverse traditions in an atmosphere of harmony, and invited the wider community. I challenge Asheville’s Christian community to do the same.

Visualize a Christian Pride Day where you bring together, on neutral ground, Orthodox (including Russian and Greek), Roman Catholic, Protestant (including Episcopal, Baptist and Methodist), Celtic and other Christian traditions. Imagine if you could bring together Mormons, Baptists, Catholics, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses and all the other Christian traditions of Asheville to celebrate and share their diversity. Picture such an event in Asheville where you invite the whole community including Christians, Muslims, Jews, Pagans and all other traditions to share and celebrate with you. This would set a precedent that would strike a cord of harmony throughout the nation and world.

Let us consider the past and current hatred and violence throughout the world enacted in the name of religion. We can look to Northern Ireland, Sudan or wherever. Maybe we should strive to demonstrate harmony and love. I offer the Christian community of Asheville this challenge: Find leaders among yourselves and hold a Christian Pride Day.

— Petros Rex, High Priest
The Lodge of the Sacred Staves

Reward the candidates who give real answers

With regard to the question-and-answer segment of your coverage of the recent elections [“Asheville Voter’s Guide,” Nov. 2], I was pleased with this feature, but very disappointed in many of the candidates’ answers. These candidates were asking us to elect them to run Asheville; the least they could have done was give some direct answers to a few simple questions regarding their policy. Instead … many gave us evasive, noncommittal answers and meaningless rhetoric.

A few examples: Terry Bellamy, when asked if she supported performance bonds, responded that she was “unfamiliar with this concept … .” Isn’t the whole point of representational democracy that we let politicians make decisions for us because they are more informed about the issues of the day?

Robin Cape, when asked about height limits, said that it was “a decision that the citizens of Asheville need to be involved in making.” Seeing as how my only direct involvement in governmental decision-making is through voting, the logic of her response is ludicrously circular. How am I supposed to make a decision (through voting) when the candidates won’t take a stance?

As for meaningless rhetoric, one need look no further than Carl Mumpower. He looked forward to new development that would “excite our downtown” and “boldly propel us into a new century.” Well, I’ve got half a mind to boldly propel him into a new century, but that’s beside the point.

I think it is unfair to those candidates who actually answer the questions to allow space for those who don’t. The solution? Simply put “did not answer” if they say “the community should decide” or “I’m not familiar with this issue” or any such evasion. That would certainly be an incentive for them to become familiar with the issues and take a stand. It would also throw the spotlight on those candidates who did give clear answers.

Then again, no one seems to be voting anyway, so who cares?

— Sequoia McDowell

Weaverville proposal is too big, too soon

I am writing to express my concern regarding the proposed Northridge Plaza being targeted for Weaverville. This plaza will be home to many big-box chains that are already in Asheville (a whopping 15 miles south), and will certainly take away the small-town charm many have grown to love about Weaverville. This plaza will be located on 85 acres at the intersection of Highway 25/70 and Monticello Road. On the east side of the road, dozens of residents will be displaced from their homes.

While proponents claim the plaza will bring many new jobs, my argument is that those will be temporary, low-paying, non-insured jobs. While proponents claim it will bring money to the area, my argument is that we should focus on what tourists (and residents) truly love about Weaverville, and that is the homey feel. While proponents claim that Weaverville needs to grow, my argument is that we already have a plaza in place whose stores struggle to survive, so why not just use that existing location? It has been estimated that Monticello Road, now seeing about 3,200 cars per day, will see upwards of 15,000 daily if this plan goes through.

The construction of this project will take countless months and will bring huge traffic headaches along with massive pollution. If there is a long-term growth plan for Weaverville, I believe the townspeople like me should be able to vote on it. This proposed plan (to be decided on Nov. 21) is just too big, too soon, and our voices need to be heard. Please join with me in contacting the Weaverville Town Council and expressing your concerns. I am encouraging the town to complete a long-range plan before considering any developments of this size.

— Robin Payne

Freeborn would make victory complete

It was a great victory for Asheville in the election! It will be an even better one if our City Council sticks to the very democratic tradition of appointing the next highest vote-getter to Terry Bellamy’s vacant seat.

Bryan Freeborn was gaining ground every day as more and more people found out what his positions on the issues were. The voters love Freeborn because of his position on development issues. He’s against gassing our senior citizens by wrapping a parking deck around Battery Park Apartments, and he’s against ridgeline development — and so are the voters. Three weeks more, and Freeborn would have beaten Mumpower.

We cannot assume that this City Council will automatically appoint Bryan Freeborn just because he was the next highest vote-getter. Comments already made by sitting members indicate that this is not a sure thing.

Please write our City Council members and politely insist that they honor the voters’ wishes in this matter, and hold them accountable.

— Laura Thomas

Who’s on fourth?

Perhaps the most pressing action the new Asheville City Council must take after being sworn in will be the appointment of someone to fill the coming vacancy for a City Council member. Of course, Bryan Freeborn made the strongest showing by a substantial margin. What about the views of the other voters? To gauge them, we should consider the views of the other runners-up.

In the interview published in Mountain Xpress [“Asheville Voter’s Guide,” Nov. 2], the question was put to all candidates: “If City Council must fill a vacated seat after the election, will you vote to appoint the next highest vote-getter?” Chris Pelly’s response was, “Vote totals should be the most important factor in filling the vacated seat … .” He followed that by citing reasons for exercising flexibility, such as extremely close vote totals or some unforeseen circumstances. These have not happened. Keith Thomson’s reply included, “Yes, I think this will ensure [that] voters have a say in the outcome of the election.”

As far as politics are concerned, Freeborn is a proclaimed progressive. In reply to the Xpress‘ question about “Primary Lessons,” Pelly pointed out, “Five of the six top vote-getters are promoting progressive solutions.” Obviously, he was including himself in that group. Thomson was endorsed by the Match Our Mountains organization, which also endorsed Holly Jones and Robin Cape. Robin and Holly were two of the three endorsed by other groups that included Freeborn as the third endorsee. It is reasonable to conclude Thomson’s politics are compatible with Freeborn’s. As for compatibility, the answers given by Freeborn, Pelly and Thomson to several issues questions from the Xpress were either very similar or compatible.

The will of the voters of Asheville would be well served by appointing Bryan Freeborn to fill the vacancy.

— Thomas M. Alba

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