Asheville City Council Elections 2015

Maybe it’s because of what I was doing this time last year, but I’ve been asked by more people than ever who I’m supporting in the City Council elections. I’m voting for Brian Haynes, Keith Young and Rich Lee.




  • Brian Haynes is an Asheville native who has devoted a significant part of his life to the issue of affordable housing – not just policy wonk stuff, but actually building housing for low wealth families with Habitat for Humanity. He will bring an independent, local-centric, caring and reasonable voice to City Council deliberations that’s not currently represented there.


  • Keith Young asked me several months ago if I would join his “inner circle” for this election, and I’m so glad I said, Yes. Keith’s also an Asheville native, a devoted family man with strong values, and a bright and energetic advocate for making sure everyone, including the least among us, benefits from Asheville’s inevitable growth.


  • Rich Lee is a fellow Isaac Dickson parent who, along with Cecil Bothwell, was an ardent and insistent detractor of my campaign for District Attorney last year. But I don’t hold it against either of them personally. I admire Rich’s dedication to study and get involved in the complex issues facing city government, and I choose to give him my vote.  (He also has the coolest website.)

In this election, the differences between the candidates are slim. The two “slates” are both printed on green signs. There’s no red/blue or liberal/conservative. It essentially comes down to endorsements, i.e., who is friends with whom.

I see this as a battle between the friends of Cecil vs. the friends of the Establishment. I really don’t have anything against the Establishment, despite my treatment by certain of them since I showed the temerity to run for DA. But I think that the concentration of too much power in the hands of too few close friends is undesirable.

So while I like much of what I hear from the other three candidates, I’m hesitant to support the consolidation of power into the clique that I see forming, especially one that clearly appears to be the choice of many powerful development and tourism interests.

One final point: I think it’s safe to predict that as top vote-getter in the primary, Julie Mayfield will win a seat, despite not being endorsed by me. In addition to the reasons I’ve stated above, I would prefer that one of Mayfield’s expressed opinions not find a voice on the Council. During the primary, Mayfield was asked in a survey conducted by the Preservation Society, “How does stewardship of the historic building environment fit into in your vision for Asheville’s future?”

As part of her response, she wrote: “When the inevitable conflicts arise between interests – one example being historic preservation versus the environment – I would urge thoughtful and collaborative discussions to find solutions that honors both the separate and shared interests to the greatest extent possible.” {italics supplied}.


This thinking is flawed for a number of reasons. First, there is never a conflict between “historic preservation” and “the environment,” unless the definition of either of those interests is misconstrued. But to then state that such a conflict is “inevitable” not only displays a basic misunderstanding of core concepts of preservation (e.g., the greenest building is the one that’s already built) but also serves to insult many of us in the preservation movement as being anti-environment.

I look forward to working with Julie Mayfield, and anyone else in City Government who agrees with Mayfield’s characterizations, to help evolve that position into one that recognizes that preservation preserves the environment in which we all live.