I have known and worked with Brownie Newman for many years prior to his service on Asheville City Council. While I am older by a few years, I have always considered him a mentor on how to bring different kinds of people together to address complex and seemingly intractable issues.
The single most important environmental legislation passed in North Carolina in many years has been the N.C. Clean Smokestacks Act. I was privileged to walk the halls of the State House and Senate on several occasions with Brownie and watch him bring so many unique and important folks together to accomplish something that many experts told us was impossible. The legislation was passed because people like Brownie knew that good lawmaking comes not only from talking to the powers that be, but also by including the voices and stories of average citizens whose lives are either enriched or diminished by environmental policies.
Our air today in Asheville is cleaner because of the Clean Smokestacks Act. While many people took part in helping to pass this important legislation, I believe Brownie Newman made the difference in leading new people into the process and keeping us all focused on the goal—cleaner air for all citizens of our state.
It is too often a thankless task to serve in the civic arena today. But when I reflect on the challenges facing Asheville and our region, from global warming to sprawl development to educational opportunities for our young people to poverty, I am very heartened that people like Brownie are willing to serve on Asheville City Council. My wife and I were impressed to learn that Brownie is investing a large share of his campaign resources into Asheville Energy Independence Day. Rather than use campaign funds to attack others, Brownie is planning to pass out 2,000 energy-saving CFL light bulbs to Asheville families on a single day. This will prevent more than a million pounds of air pollution from going into our air and will [potentially] save each [recipient] Asheville family $72 in their utility bills [over the life of the bulb].
I would like to encourage everyone to support the re-election of Councilman Brownie Newman and to get involved in Asheville Energy Independence Day on Sept. 15. For more information about the day, go to www.brownienewman.com.
— The Rev. Brian L. Cole