Xpress contributor Mark Barrett unpacks the surprisingly static results to emerge from a politically tumultuous year in Western North Carolina.
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously on Oct. 6 to award $15,000 toward the construction of an agricultural education facility at Enka High School. But as Chair Brownie Newman noted, recommendations to support such projects are normally made by Buncombe’s School Capital Fund Commission or Board of Education and funded through the regular budget cycle.
Al Whitesides, the sole Black member of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, and his three Democratic colleagues approved the resolution over the opposition of the board’s three Republicans. The county government is now aligned with Asheville City Council, which unanimously passed a similar measure on July 14.
After the city of Asheville enjoyed widespread national and international press for adopting a resolution in support of reparations for the Black community on July 14, Buncombe County may be next in line.
Democrats Amanda Edwards and Al Whitesides joined the board’s three Republicans in a 5-2 vote approving a proposal to hire three new detectives, which would match a $375,000 federal grant with $734,000 in county funds through fiscal year 2025.
Vance, Patton, Woodfin, Henderson, Weaver, Chunn, Baird — their names are familiar to anyone living in Asheville and Buncombe County today. All were wealthy and influential civic leaders. They were also major slaveholders or slave traders and white supremacists.
According to the formal agreement, up for a Board of Commissioners vote on Tuesday, April 21, both city and county staffers would remain employees of and still be paid by their respective governments while carrying out their new duties. Asheville and Buncombe County would be required to cover the expense of all personal protective equipment for workers from the other government.
Commissioner Amanda Edwards and Rachael Nygaard, the county’s director of strategic partnerships, proposed substantial revisions for Buncombe’s approach to Strategic Partnership Grants. The changes, which will likely be put to a vote on Tuesday, Nov. 5, included the establishment of a volunteer grant review committee, strict adherence to deadlines and standardized criteria for judging applications.
Board chair Brownie Newman, Vice Chair Jasmine Beach-Ferarra and member Amanda Edwards have placed a resolution endorsing the Sheriff’s Office’s use of MAT on the commission’s agenda for Tuesday, Aug. 20. The treatment is currently offered to the jail’s pregnant female inmates, but Buncombe officials hope to expand its availability to all incarcerated individuals.
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a zoning amendment that allows manufactured homes in more county residential districts.
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to appoint Avril Pinder, the former deputy county manager for New Hanover County, to the role of county manager during a special meeting on Feb. 5. The county anticipates that her first day will be Monday, March 4.
As the Democratic Party retook control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections, Buncombe Dems managed to hold onto a few key positions in local elections — perhaps most notably that of county sheriff. Politics also seeped into the Board of Commissioners race, where Republicans fell short in their bid to flip the party composition of the board.
On Dec. 19, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners met in closed session to winnow 33 applications it has received for the position to a more manageable number. The county is still accepting applications.
Amanda Edwards’ first day in the hot seat should be fairly chill.
Robert Pressley, incumbent Buncombe County commissioner for District 3, was the only Republican to win a county race in the hotly contested 2018 midterms. Buncombe County Democratic Party Chair Jeff Rose said the party’s unprecedented midterm voter outreach had helped propel Democratic candidates to wins in nearly all local contests.
Watch this space for the latest election results and commentary from the Mountain Xpress news team. The post will be updated regularly throughout the evening.
A Facebook Live forum hosted by Blue Ridge Public Radio and the Mountain Xpress on Wednesday, Oct. 17, offered District 2 candidates Glenda Weinert and Amanda Edwards an opportunity to address issues like affordable housing, opioid abuse, and the omnipresent criminal investigation into former county officials.
In partnership with Blue Ridge Public Radio, Mountain Xpress will present a candidate forum for the District 2 seat of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners today at noon.
“Amanda Edwards is the only candidate in District 2 who will provide accountability and strong oversight, while respecting other voices in our community.”
Amanda Edwards Democrat Website: electamandaedwards.org Occupation: Executive director, A-B Tech Community College Foundation Previous candidacy or offices held: I am a first-time candidate Key endorsements: Buncombe County Association of Educators, Police Benevolent Association, Sierra Club, AFL-CIO Central Labor Council of Western North Carolina, Rep. John Ager and Annie Ager of Fairview Amount of money raised: […]
During a debate organized by the Council of Independent Business Owners on Oct. 5, candidates vying for seats on the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners talked school safety, affordable housing and how the county should respond to the fallout from the Wanda Greene investigation.