On May 14, 2109, City Council met to decide the fate of Asheville’s iconic Flatiron Building. Its owner wanted to sell it (for $12 Million) to out-of-town developers. The sale would not go through unless the property was granted a conditional zoning that would permit the developers to gut the historic building and turn it into a high-end hotel.

The conditional zoning was granted by a 4-3 vote, and Asheville lost a irreplaceable local anchor for small businesses, creatives, and professionals in the heart of downtown. That terrible decision lit a fire in my heart which, over time, became this campaign.

Three years later, the Flatiron building is still under “renovation,” still destined to be yet another among way too many downtown hotels. And City Council has continued to make decisions that disregard the needs, concerns, and well-being of residents and our homegrown economy. We get lip service about public engagement, but in practice Council has not been responsive to our voices, inclusive of our perspectives, or transparent about their decision-making. It’s time to hold them accountable, because this is OUR CITY—not the visitors’, not the Tourist Development Authority’s, not a handful of wealthy investors’, not City Council’s.

Together, we can change how City Council serves Asheville residents.

[Read the full text of my speech “Who is Asheville For?”]

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