Have you taken Sunrise Movement’s Green New Deal Pledge to use your office to support and advance the Green New Deal through all legal avenues? [https://www.sunrisemovement.org/pledge]
I have not done so in the form you present. Please allow me to explain why.
The Green New Deal as it exists now is not legislation, it’s a resolution. It’s a bold vision whose goals I share: using government action and investment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to stave off catastrophic climate change and create sustainable, environmentally neutral, and renewable sources of energy. The goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is urgent, and I also agree that the way it is accomplished is vitally important as well — emphasizing social justice and economic equity. I also expect that the specifics of the Green New Deal will change and evolve as it makes its way to becoming legislation.
As a prospective City Councilmember, however, I am keenly aware that Asheville has neither the resources of the Federal government nor its taxation power. Indeed it is widely restricted by State law as to the kind of regulations it can place on businesses and residents.
Every policy decision that City Council makes is inevitably a trade-off between competing needs. I will approach them based on the fundamental values of democracy: responsiveness, inclusion, transparency, and accountability. I will prioritize the needs and concerns of those who are most vulnerable now and who have been historically devalued and exploited. And I will weigh the environmental impact of every policy choice and vote, advocating for solutions that move the City toward net zero emissions.
As a candidate, I do wholeheartedly pledge not to take contributions over $200 from oil, gas, and coal industry executives, lobbyists, or PACs.
What is your position on Climate Equity and how the City Council is currently engaging with frontline communities?
There is no Climate Equity without including those who have suffered and will suffer the most from the impact of runaway fossil fuel emissions in creating an equitable economic alternative.
It’s my observation that Council’s efforts so far to include those most affected by its policies have been less than adequate. They have usually sought input too little and too late in the process — no matter what the topic.
The Climate Justice Screening Tool seems like a good start, but I’m wondering how often — if at all — since its development it has actually been used as a policy-influencing part of the process.
The final reports from the consulting firm are not yet available, although a draft version is published on the City’s website. The draft makes good recommendations, but is very vague about the number and range of voices included in their study except for mentioning “12 BIPOC leaders living and working in and with frontline communities.”
Should you be elected to City Council, will you commit to centering frontline and BIPOC communities in determining next steps for the Climate Justice Initiative?
Describe your vision for moving to renewable energy and transitioning away from fossil fuels. Please include specifically what policies you would promote to achieve this and why doing so is important to you.
The City of Asheville should continue and accelerate its adoption of solar power to generate electricity to offset City buildings and facilities usage, and perhaps invest in a City-owned solar energy farm.
Public transportation and any city-owned fleet vehicles should transition as quickly as possible to electric vehicles. And our public transportation infrastructure—including bike paths and greenways must be improved so that residents and visitors have less need to rely on cars.
Council should adopt policies that incentivize the use of renewable energy sources and the highest categories of energy conservation standards in any new construction or renovation of existing buildings.
We also have to acknowledge that, while efforts at the local level are vital, they pale in significance and effectiveness in comparison to the kind of large-scale economic and production changes needed at the national and global levels.
It’s important to me because this is our one and only beautiful, interdependent, fragile, imperiled ecosystem: and the risk isn’t only to humanity but to the whole rich, marvelous web of life on the planet.
Will you commit to ensuring adequate resources are enshrined in the City Budget to fully realize the recommendations made by frontline BIPOC communities during the Climate Justice Listening and Learning Sessions?
Yes. These recommendations will benefit our entire City.
How will you use your office to advance and build support for a local Green New Deal?
Beyond ensuring that the environmental consequences of policy and budgetary decisions are evaluated through the lens of the urgent need for climate change mitigation…? I don’t know.
My commitment to making City Council more responsive, inclusive, transparent, and accountable includes ensuring that the voices calling for a more sustainable future are always heard.
What is your position on houseless encampments?
Safe shelter is a human right. But the City of Asheville cannot solve the challenges faced by our houseless neighbors alone. That will take changes on the national level like universal healthcare (including mental health) and a medical, not criminal, approach to drug use and addiction. It will probably also require the institution of something like a universal basic income.
But in the meantime, we can and we must mitigate the suffering of the folks living rough and find ways to reduce crimes of desperation. I support a pilot program of a sanctuary camping ground, with security, sanitation facilities, and wraparound services.
How will you use your office to protect the safety and human rights of Asheville’s houseless community?
Our approach to these challenges should not rely on the criminalization of poverty and homelessness. I’d like the City to work in coordination with local community advocates and service providers to develop solutions that meet people where they are—and address concerns of all our residents. Bulldozing tents and confiscating or destroying peoples’ belongings is abhorrent and unacceptable. As a priority I will work with fellow Councilmembers, City staff, and the police to develop better policies and protocols.
Have you taken the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge? [https://nofossilfuelmoney.org/]
I haven’t gone through the formalities on that page, but I’m happy to affirm my commitment to the pledge.
Regardless of if you’re elected or not, how will your campaign continue the fight for progressive causes once the election is over?
My campaign is modest collection of individuals who strongly believe that none of the problems that face our City (or for that matter the state, nation, or world) can be solved unless we have governments that are responsive to the needs of people, include their communities from the very beginning of the policy-making process, are transparent and do the public’s business in public, and can be held accountable for their choices. A government that doesn’t make it easy for people to participate — whether at the ballot box, through exercising their civil rights, or being involved in policy development — is not a democracy.
Whether the challenge is climate change, affordable housing, a local economy diversified beyond tourism, or a better approach to public safety, we’ll continue to press for a more just, equitable, and compassionate society by building community and demanding democracy.
Are you running a movement campaign that will exist beyond election day or an electoral campaign that concludes at the end of the election cycle?
I make no claim to be a movement leader. I am an engaged citizen, hoping to serve our community and hold our government institutions to the highest levels of integrity and accountability. That doesn’t stop after election day.
If your campaign hires any staff, will they be paid a living wage?
How long have you lived in Asheville?
On Election Day, November 8, 2022, I will have lived in Asheville just over 10 years.
Is there anything further you would like to tell us about your identity, background and/or experience.
I am a writer and an artist. I’ve been self-employed most of my working life, primarily in one form of communications or another (I was an early practitioner of web design and development, working first for the Smithsonian and then as a freelance contractor). I’ve also been held jobs in retail, food service, and done gig work. After moving to Asheville, I obtained a real estate license and learned a whole lot about the challenges of the local residential market. (I still hold an active broker’s license, but I haven’t done any transactions in several years.)
How are you currently working towards climate equity in Western North Carolina?
For me, focusing on making sure that our local government takes care of its people and its environment by being open, compassionate, and respectful of democratic principles and human rights is the best way to ensure that climate equity gets enacted.
What is your current relationship with the Sunrise Movement? (Have you participated in actions, hub meetings etc.)
A few years ago, when the Sunrise Movement was just getting going, I attended several meetings. I haven’t been to any recently.
Is there anything else you wish to share with us that was not already asked?
My approach to problem-solving is people- and data-driven. I am an idealist, but not an ideologue. I’m a pragmatic idealist—I see the imperative goal of a healthy, equitable, sustainable, compassionate society and I am ready to do what needs to be done, here in our city, to move the needle in that direction.
Change is hard and often painful, but change is also often necessary and desirable. We can get there, together, step by step. Because #thisisOurCity and this is our planet.