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Smith decides not to seek 3rd term on Asheville City Council
Thursday, 02 February 2017 17:00

From Staff Reports


Gordon Smith will not seek re-election to Asheville City Council, he announced Feb. 24.

“It’s been an awesome privilege and responsibility” to serve on the city’s highest governing body, Smith, a Democrat who was first elected in 2009, noted in a press release sent to the Daily Planet.

“I’ve been serving you for over seven years as an elected representative, and it’s been the honor of my life.

“Listening, bringing people together, solving problems, shepherding policy from inception to execution, tackling big issues ... So many care so much, and I’ve done my best to do right by you every day. Now it’s time for me to pass the torch to the next public servant. I will not seek re-election to Asheville City Council.”

He added that, “in some ways, serving on council is a lot like my other service role as a counselor for adolescents, adults and families. We work to understand the issues, clarify goals, and chart a course from here to there. I’ve been in my counseling role for 17 years, and I will continue in that role, focusing my work on intellectually and creatively gifted teens and adults. I’m also looking forward to more time with my wife, family, and friends.

“This is an unsettling age of political demagogues who seek division and discord, even one on our own City Council.” While Smith did not name the “demagogue” serving on council, Pete Kaliner, host of a daily radio talk show on WWNC-AM (570), said on the afternoon of Smith’s announcement that he undoubtedly was referring to Cecil Bothwell.

(Bothwell told the Daily Planet on Jan. 26 that “Gordon did a favor to folks who might be considering a run for council by announcing his intentions this early in the cycle. I have no idea who on council would fit the dictionary definition of ‘demagogue.’”)

Meanwhile Smith added, “I am grateful to those public servants who speak the truth, know their stuff, cooperate, collaborate, problem-solve, and keep their entire community in mind with each decision. They have been my role models and my inspiration. Thanks, also, to the people who generously volunteer their time and energy in so many ways to work toward a better world.

“We have a lot to celebrate, and there’s still a lot to accomplish.

“The N.C. Supreme Court ruled in our favor, and, after a years-long fight, our water system remains in the people’s hands. The affordable housing crisis is ongoing, but the general housing shortage is easing, according to a new report. The city’s equity measures are moving forward--we’ll be solidifying racial equity in every dimension of our municipal government. Three bond measures passed, meaning more sidewalks, greenways, bus stops, parks, and affordable housing across Asheville. Roy Cooper won the governor’s race, and he’ll have Attorney General Josh Stein to help him fight for us. Brownie Newman will lead the Buncombe County Commission into a new era. 

He added, “It’s up to all of us to elect City Council members who prefer good sense and good government to bomb throwing and bluster. There’s enough of the latter happening in Washington, D.C.

“I will spend the last eleven months of my term with my shoulder to the wheel. Affordable housing remains a crisis. There are some who think that people with lower incomes ought to be marginalized, pushed to the edges of our community. I will work to ensure socioeconomic diversity in the city we love. This will be Asheville’s best year yet in regard to food security and food policy, and I intend to help lead that charge. Neighborhoods are getting more organized than ever. Twenty-nine neighborhood organizations have completed their Plan-on-a-Page, and it’s up to City Council to honor those visions.

“There’s a lot of work to do, and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity you gave me. I will continue my public service in the ways most of us do — through our work, our civic engagement, and our examples. Together, we’ll get to the Asheville we all know is possible,” Smith concluded in his press release.

Council members serve four-year terms — and other council seats up for election this year are those held by Mayor Esther Manheimer and council members Cecil Bothwell and Gwen Wisler.



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