[See the original AC-T Questionnaire here.]
What are three actionable steps you will take to balance Asheville tourism with local needs?
- Invest in improved public transportation. Reliable, convenient, bus service with expanded frequency and hours will support local workers, residents, and businesses. The City should also consider downtown shuttle busses (preferably electric), which would reduce traffic congestion and serve locals and visitors alike.
- Institute a two-tier parking payment system. City residents receive a pass that gives them a discount on city parking. Visitors pay full price.
- Push for an even more favorable TDA split of the occupancy tax (currently 67-33%), with fewer restrictions (currently must be tourism-related) on how the City’s share can be spent.
APD Chief David Zack has said violent crime is up 34% this year to date. Staffing is still down. Murder rates in the city are already higher than all of 2021. Do you believe the Asheville Police Department is functioning well? What are three actionable steps you will take to improve police-community relations, bring down crime and improve public safety?
- Bring officers into Asheville. Not just recruiting personnel, but ensuring that police officers live in the community they serve. When they’re neighbors, officers are more trusted and develop better communication with residents—helping them do their jobs better.
- Diversify public safety. Not every call to the police requires an armed officer response. Sometimes paramedics are what’s needed, or a social worker is more appropriate. Send the best help available.
- Improve the social safety net. People who see a good future for themselves don’t commit crimes. Safe housing, mental health/substance abuse treatment, and living wage jobs lower the crime rate.
With affordable housing a top priority among the county and city, what are three actionable steps you will take to bring more housing options to Asheville?
- Revisit the UDO (zoning code) from the ground up. Make context-sensitive infill housing more widely allowed. Support denser construction on corridors that are well-supported by public transportation and utilities.
- Require longer-term affordability and full voucher acceptance for Land-Use Incentive Grants. LUIGs are a great deal for developers—the City should get a better return for them.
- Use bonds to build housing on city-owned land, creating properties that are deeded affordable in perpetuity. Community land trusts and ‘social housing’ development can also ensure that new housing remains affordable.
Is there another issue that you consider a central tenet of your campaign? If so, what is it and how would you seek to address it, if elected?
Many fear the erosion of democracy at the state and national level, and for good reason. But democracy is also crucial in our local city government. Democracy requires trust between people and government, and trust is created by transparency and sustained by accountability.
We deserve a city government that does the people’s work in public and includes us in the decision-making process early enough for it to matter. If elected, I promise my work on Council will be an open book, and that I will push for transparency and a robust open meetings policy throughout our city government.