1. What experience and qualities do you feel you bring to this office?
I am an engaged citizen—a person who has paid close attention to the role of politics in society and been active politically throughout my whole life. I also have professional experience in project management and communications, and I know how to negotiate and compromise.
I don’t claim any special expertise in city management, but I do know how to ask good questions and I’m a quick learner. I understand that making good decisions requires good information, derived from hard data and lived experience. Leadership means listening to needs, assessing and allocating resources fairly and equitably, devising creative and effective strategies, and including those who are affected by decisions in the process from the very beginning.
Clear and compelling communication is essential to good leadership—and that has been a hallmark of my entire professional life: as a writer, designer, artist, and broker. I listen deeply, seeking to understand; I value conversation & connection in civic life.
2. What do you think makes you the best candidate for this position?
Voters can select three candidates for City Council from a slate of six in the general election. I don’t claim to be ‘best.’ Rather, I would like voters to choose me because I have pledged to be transparent about my decision-making processes through published weekly reports to residents, to treat the position as a full-time job, and to be in constant conversation with our community about matters coming to City Council. You can read my Pledge to Our City here: http://tovish4avl.com/pledge. My website also contains a wealth of information about my policy positions (including answers to every questionnaire I’ve ever submitted), videos of my comments at Council meetings, regular posts about events and topics of concern in our city, and biographical information. I hope voters will consult it to learn more.
3. Identify your top three (3) issues that you wish to address during your tenure in office and rank them in order of priority.
Zoning (UDO)—The most fundamental power City Council has to shape the future of our city lies in the zoning code. We need to revisit it from the ground up with smart, ecologically responsible, equitable & livable growth in mind for all our residents. We must strike a saner balance between tourism and our local creative & entrepreneurial economy. Everything else depends on getting this right.
Housing Affordability—A home in Asheville, rental or owned, is now out of the reach of too many. People who work here find they can’t afford to live here. This challenge calls for bold new approaches to finance and build the housing our city needs.
Public Transportation—Our roads are burdened and our workforce struggles with a public system that doesn’t meet our needs. I envision a future for public transport that’s agile, electric, and reliable, with greater convenience and coverage. We can create better solutions, both for riders (residents & visitors alike) and for a healthier environment.
4. What is the first thing you hope to accomplish in your office, if elected?
I will begin by ensuring that City Council commits to conducting its business transparently. I will advocate among my peers on Council that we sign on as a body to a robust Open Meetings Policy (see http://openmeetingspolicy.com), and I will lead by example—as mentioned above—by publishing weekly reports on my activities and meetings. I will also seek to ensure that Council directs the City Manager to ensure that all city employees also conduct their work in an accessible and transparent manner.
Good government is a conversation that a community has with itself about how to take care of one another, and how to move forward together into the future responsibly and equitably, as a creative, thriving city for all. Good conversations require give and take among participants, with everyone having a voice at the table. It is government’s responsibility to facilitate those conversations through responsiveness, inclusion, transparency & accountability—the hallmarks of a healthy democracy.