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Incumbents, challengers square off at East Asheville candidates forum
Friday, 16 September 2022 21:53

From Staff Reports

Many of the candidates — running for office in both Asheville and surrounding Buncombe County — shared their viewpoints that sometimes clashed during a three-hour candidates forum on Sept. 8 at the East Asheville Library branch.

The Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods hosted the  candidate forum. Serving as moderator was Rick Freeman, CAN’s president. “CAN is a nonprofit organization that has provided education regarding neighborhood issues for over 30 years,” an event promotion noted.

Participating in the forum were candidates for Asheville mayor, Asheville City Council, Buncombe County Board of Commissioners and Buncombe County sheriff.

The first two hours of the forum featured brief opening statements from the candidates, followed by extensive  presubmitted questions that were asked by the moderator. 

The remaining hour gave the candidates an opportunity to field written questions from the audience.

Freeman opened the forum by asking “everyone to be respectful for why we’re here. We’re here to become educated on the candidates… We’re here to consume (information) tonight and to treat the candidates with respect. So it’s going to be busy tonight....”

The moderator then noted that each candidate will be given two minutes for opening remarks — and he asked that the remarks have “a neighborhood focus.”

Freeman then added, “I’ve gotten notice from (Asheville) Mayor (Esther) Manheimer that she is running late, so I will push her (opening remarks) to the end. I also believe (incumbent commissioners’ candidate) Amanda Edwards is not present. Also, not present is (incumbent Asheville City Councilman) Antoinette Mosley. We never heard from (incumbent Asheville City Councilman) Sheneika Smith, nor (Buncombe County) Sheriff (Quentin) Miller... They just never replied to our invitation....”

Speaking first, sheriff’s candidate Tracy DeBruhl, said, “Most of y’all know me… because one decade ago, I was with” the group that helped clean up law enforcement in the area — “ that’s how we got through (former Buncombe district attorney) Ron Moore” and others.

“As far as what I’m going to do. I’m going to change the face of law enforcement. I’m going to tell you the law enforcement, as a Marine, is .. a joke....”

He then held aloft — for all to see — a large photograph and turned to Trey McDonald, sitting next to him, and asserted, “If it’s not my competitor’s bootprint on this photo,” then he would challenge any dissenters to prove otherwise.

At that point, Freeman called on McDonald to speak next.

McDonald, a Republican, then said,  I’m running for the sheriff of Buncombe County.” He then asked, rhetorically, “‘Neighborhood resilience’ — what’s that mean? The team comes in and has a community meeting and finds out what the issue is, who’s causing it and what to do. Everything will be on the website for you to see.

“I’ve been there” on the job. “I’ve had over 22 years of law enforcement. I’m ‘the man’” for the the sheriff’s job. 

Next, Nina Tovish said, “I’m a candidate for Asheville City Council. I came here because of the vibrant cultural scene, the beautiful environment, the people I met when I came to check out Asheville... Those are the interests I’d like to preserve and protect — if I’m elected.

“What does ‘neighborhood resiliency’ mean? I believe Ashevlle needs to revisit its Unified Zoning Ordinance from the ground up.”

Maggie Ullman, who spoke next, also noted that she is running for Asheville City Council. What I’ve beem hearing from you all… We need to work on ‘neighborhood resiliency.’ I have the technical abilities, the knowledge... to put us back on the path on climate change.

“I’m not a a candidate running on just one issue (climate change)l” Ullman stressed, noting she also wants to make improvements in such services as fire, police and garbage pickup, among others.

Another Asheville council candidate, Allison Scott, said, “I’m a fifth-generation Ashevillian. But you care about this town just as much as I do. I know how to get stuff done. I’m doing this (running for a council seat) because of ‘resiliency.‘ We need to do it by not relying on one industry. We need to have balance. That’s where I thrive. People know me as a bridge-builder. I feel like more people would like to point fingers than get the work done. Well, I want to get the work done. That’s ‘resilience’ _ where we look at for more than just ourselves, but for our neighbors.”

Yet another Asheville council hopeful, Andrew Fletcher, said, “We should spend millions of dollars on affordable housing… I understand our complicated relationship with tourism. I work for LaZoom....  I invite you to join me for those with a (new) vision for Asheville, not just for the developers and hoteliers.”

Anthony Penland, a Republican commissioners’ candidate for District 1, said, “Growing up in the Swannanoa Valley, we need to work with our community leaders — and make sure they work for us. I want to work for you. I have a passion to work with the citizens.”

Don Yelton, a commissioners’ candidate for Distirct 3, said,  “I believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. You’re here tonight — I congratulate all of you for being here tonight. 

“I had a (radio) call-in show in Buncombe County and they got rid of it.

“I’ve got people in both parties who don’t like me, so that probably speaks well of me.

“The definition of a county commissioner is to represent constituents,” Yelton said.

Next, incumbent Disrict 1 Commissioner Al Whitesides, who faces a challenge from Penland, said, “I’m a life-long resident of Buncombe County. I was retired when I got into this. I was selected to replace Phillip Turner. I’m concerned about the quality of life in Buncombe County. 

“We had a good team right in the midst of what was going on with (former Buncombe County Manager) Wanda (Greene). But still, we have security issues. So I know what we need when it comes to security.”

Whitesides then lamented, “I live in what I thought was ‘a nice neighborhood,’ but a young lady down the street was shot recently on her way to school.”

Commissioner Robert Pressley, a Republican incumbent running for re-election in District 2,  said, “I represent the 67,000 people that voted for me. But I’m also workiing for those I love — and that’s what I’m doing here. We have to do what is best for our community. Rght now, the crime wave in Buncombe County is completely out of hand.”

Martin Moore, a Democrat and an attorney challenging Pressley for his seat, introduced himself as “someone who is focused on results...  Prevention is better than prosecution... It’s not about party, it’s about community.”

Next, Councilwoman Kim Roney noted that she is “running for mayor,” but that she also is proud to be “a community organizer, friend and neighbor.”

She then asked, rhetorically, “Why am I running (for mayor)? I want to see us working together. Address public safety. I’m running on an open meetings’ policy.”

As for “neighborhood resiliency,” Roney defined it as the ability “to recover quickly to spring back into shape. I’m very honored to be back in Asheville, where my grandparents lived in the Kennilworth community.”

As the introductory remarks portion of the meeting ended, Freeman, the moderator, noted,  “We have two missing souls,” including Manheimer, who he named, and, presumably Edwards, who he had mentioned earlier in the meeting as “missing.”

However, striving to stay on schedule, Freeman pressed on with the portion of the meeting where he addressed specific questions to the candidates, seeking their answers.

For the first question, he asked, “where would you get the money to cover the notorious maintenance deficit?”

Ullman replied, “Not long ago in our (the city’s) history, we didn’t borrow much money. We (now) have a AAA bond rating, so that gives us” a funding source for projects.

While she noted that water maintenace is funded by fees, an approach with which she agreed, Ullman said, “We need to be looking at maximizing big maintenance projects.”


Ullman added, “With the (passage in Congress of the) Inflation Reduction Act, there’s about to be a lot of money available. That’s something we need to hop on right away.”

To the same question, Tovish replied, “I know it’s bad form to say “ditto,” but I’ve got to agree with many of the things Maggie just said.  I live in a neighborhood where we had six water breaks in an area that had 75-year-old, 80-year-old infrastructure.

“There’s a stigma associated with borrowing money. These are investments are worth making because they will support local citizens and businesspeople. The people who run local businesses pay living wages because they know how expensive it is for people to live here”

Fletcher added, “If we had the will on council, a lot of these things already would have been done. Did you know the rates for the largest consumers of water is exactly half of what’s being paid by us? Beer companies, for instance... We could have a more fair water system to maintain our system better....”

Further, Fletcher said, “When the sales tax goes to Raleigh and comes back, we get less. We need a better split. We need to be able to work better with the county to make sure the split is fair. Right now, the ‘news item of the week’ is $1.3 million is being spent (by the local Tourism Development Authority) on advertising (Asheville) in New York. We need to have the resources to pay for the cost of tourism.”

Another Asheville council candidate, Scott said, “You know it’s not alway great to go last. When you’re running with a lot of smart people, you’ll agree with a lot of what they say. But also beside working for a nonprofit, I’ve also worked in the corporate world. 

“Where do we find additional money. Part of it is AAA bonds. And part of it is making people pay their way. We don’t do that now. The Buncombe County Commissioners need to be worked with on this. Asheville can’t stand by itself. We’ve all got to work together. It all goes back to resiliency.”

In a second question for Asheville council candidates, Freeman, the moderator, asked what each would do to clean up the city and increase public safety.

Fletcher replied, “I have seen for decades the police department sucking up every dollar for public safety… We treat this police department like a Swiss Army knife. We need to shift some of this money into other solutions” that he described as more equitable and inclusive.

“I’d like to see a more competitive process on how we fund public safety... I will also say there is a national trend. When it comes to public safety, visitors treat it (Asheville) ike a theme park. We need to get tourism to pay for itself. We need to capture those tourism dollars while they’re here. Were not doing a good job of capturing that money now,” Fletcher said.

Scott said, “I’ve got to make some assumptions. The City Council does not manage the Asheville Plice Department. That’s the city manager’s job (Debra Campbell). When I hear about crime — I hear about 30 shootings (in Asheville) so far this year. That’s a record. I hear people talking about being afraid of going for a walk at night.

“I think it means a little of all those things. We have to think about helping our neighbors. If we help them with their substance abuse, they don’t commit crime,” Scott said.

To the same quesstion, Ullman asked, rhetorically, “What do we mean by cleaning up safety? About a year ago, my husband came home about 5:30 p.m. and somebody was actively robbing our house. I know we’re down 40 percent in (staffing in) the APD. 

“This is once-in-a-lifetime chance at rebuilding our police department in a better way. About the unhoused — I fully believe that I, and all of us, are just one step away from living on the street… When I talk with the police, among the first thing I hear is about “meth.” Who here has done something (volunteering) at a shelter before?”

Next, Tovish said, “Clean up the city and increase safety…. One thing nobody has mentioned yet… the low levels of police staffiing. But also we haven’t talked about the low levels of city worker staffing. At a recent festival, all of the trash bins were overflowing. This is the symptom of a city that has lost staff….”

Tovish also said that, to some degree, some of the problems resulting in city staff turnover were out of the city’s control. “We had a pandemic. We’re also not paying people what we should as a city. I think a lot of what could help cleanliness and safety is better staffing by the city. As for the homeless — it’s scary, it’s intimidating. What we can do is mitigate. .. We need to try some new ways to get people into shelters….”

In a third question for the council candidates, Freeman asked what steps each would take to preseve Asheville’s tree canopy.

“Stop cutting down trees,” Scott asserted, trigger laughter and the loudest applause of the night to that point from the forum attendees. “We can do it (manage tree problems) in a way that preserves the trees.”

Scott added, “We’re destroying ourselves by taking this ludicrous approach. We need to hire a city forest manager. We should have done that years ago. We’ve got catching up to do. We’ve got to stop and put the brakes on it now. Instead of a tourist, big business or Duke Energy approach, we need to put our citizens first — and I will do that.”

Fletcher said, “The damage we’ve aready done to the tree canopy is not something we can repair. My quality of life is greatly enhanced by living next to a tree canopy…. About 900 acres of the tree canopy in Asheville has been destroyed. I don’t see how the people of Asheville feel we’ve elected ‘environmental candidates.’ We haven’t. The community;s been calling out for an urban forester for so long, but it’s just happened this year. I want to keep what’s great about this place — I’m serious about that.”

To the same question, Tovish replied, “When I moved to Asheville, I was lucky enough to buy a half-acre of land in Shiloh. I planted 40 trees. We should be planting trees. Not just cutting them down. We require people to have to pay a ‘fee in leiu’ when cutting down trees. Great cities around the world” preserve their tree canopies.

 Further, Tovis said, “The (so-called) ‘Pit of Despair’ — why is it not a park already? Trees are ‘climate resilience personified.’ They keep us healthy and are beautiful. Ravenscroft — it’s beauitiful and old-growth — and it provdies welcome cover in an increasingly heated world.”

Ullman said, “When I was 18 years old, I ran out and registered to vote. I got a nose ring and a tattoo. I’ve dedicated so much of my life and countless hours to fight for our environment. After studying environmental science at UNC Asheville, I worked” on environment concerns extensively. 

“Going forward, as we approach our tree canopy, we have to deal with excessive water (from floods and stormwater) and excessive heat. The tree canopy shade could be a life-saving potential resource. 

“Keep fighting. I know it can be really hard. I know there are many who feel deeply passionate. This whole democracy doesn’t work if only seven people on City Council are sorting it out. I ask you to put me up on City Council,” she said.

Turning to the sheriff’s race, Freeman, the moderator, asked the two challengers present to discuss their strategies for reducing crime.

DeBruhl said, “As for the local police, they don’t know what they’re doing. The best thing we could have done with crime is not let the Democrats mess with the last election....”

McDonald replied, “Hold me accountable. Hold me directly accountable. I won’t tell you lies. When I get in there,” he said he will get the job done on reducing crime.

In a second question for the sheriff’s hopefuls, Freeman noted that Buncombe has one of the highest jail death rates in the state — and asked: “What can be done?”

 McDonald answered, “We’re too far undermanned in the jail It’s got to be fixed,” he said of the understaffing.

 “We can’t keep losing inmates like this (dying). That is one of the issues I’ll address right off the bat.”

DeBruhl said, “In the Marine Corps, we always do more with less... As far the detention center, I’m probably not the best speaker. I’m tired of seeing my home destroyed by a bunch of arrogant and shallow people... I’m trying to make a better future.”

Next, Freeman opened questions to the candidates for county commissioner by asking: “What will you do to improve on the park issues?”

Whitesides answered, “County commissioners’ collaboration with City Council” needs to be stepped up.  

“I agree — in my years (on the Board of Commissioners), we’ve only done one (meeting with Asheville’s council)… and I think that was for ‘window-dressing.’

“I think we should meet quarterly with the city. We need to work together. I’ve asked for that for six years. For Jones Park, as far the commission is concerned, we have seven people, (while) the city has .. more than 100 people. Let’s talk about” working together to consolidate services.

Further, Whitesides said, “Now on property taxes, I don’t think we’ve done a good job of keeping the property taxes down. When I see people having to sell their land to pay their taxes, I know we have to do something.”

To the same question, Penland, who is challenging Whitesides for his seat, replied,  “Okay, in the opening statements we all said we’re here to work with you (Asheville’s council). We’re one big county — 660 square miles. Our city and our county each have ‘park and rec’ staff. Are we duplicating staff? Low-barrier shelter? We’ve got to dive in to whats causing the homeless situation.

“I just said we’ve got to make sure your community is safe. Property taxes? Yes, the property tax has gone up ... so has the value of your home. It’s an expensive place to live (the Asheville area), so we’ve got to make sure we work on that. We’re building affordable apartment complexes,… I’m going to disagree what’s been said here — ‘that our sheriff’s department is not understaffed. We’ve got 16 deputies.Two deputies are off. This war on law enforcement has to stop.”

In the loudest outburst of the long evening forum, the East Asheville forum audience enthusiastically applauded Penland’s assertions about local law enforcement being “underfunded” — and that local government officials and candidates are waging a “war on law enforcement.”

As the crowd continued applauding and cheering, Freeman, the moderator — appearing a bit exasperated — asserted sternly, “OK, folks, calm down! This is not ‘Dancing With the Stars!’” 

The particular phrasing of his admonishment to the crowd seemed to tickle many funny bones, as the forum attendees — including the candidates -— broke into laughter at his reference to “Dancing With the Stars.” 

However, the laughter soon died down, and the crowd returned to a respectful silence, at which point Yelton, who is vying for the absent Amanda Edwards’ District 3 seat on the board, said the following (in refernence to Freeman’s last question):

“The first thing that has to happen for that collaboration is to figure out where the money is coming from and where it is going. As far as homeless in Ashville, you’ve got a new trademark. You get what you feed...”

Yelton then asked, rhetorically, “If you feed something, what happens to it? It grows. That’s not being mean, that’s being truthful. Some of you claim to be compassionate” to the homeless and to crime perpetrators, but, in Yetlon’s estimation, they are hypocritcal in their utter lack of compassion for crime victims.

“And when the mayor (Manheimer) tells the cops not to come out when there’s a riot in the streets, that’s the problem. And who can help that? The mayor!” Yelton asserted.

Pressley then noted, “I’m the only conservative left of the 13 council members and commissioners... Do you know how hard that is to get anything done” when one is is so outnumbered?

“Property tax is the thing — when I became a commissioner eight years ago — that I wanted to work on the most. It was ... ‘Here’s the thing I want us to work on.’ I have a house that I built for $100,000 thirty years ago. It’s now valued at $300,000.”

As for so-called, “low-barriers shelters,” Pressley said, “We need them, but can we afford them? Who’s going to pay for them?

Conversely, Martin, the challenger for Pressley’s District 2 seat, said,  “Jones Park? Let’s work with city staff. Let’s not start from scratch if we don’t have to — that’s a big part of our homeless issue. It’s sort of a no-brainer to keep taxes low for those with lower income. I don’t want to pass the buck to the sheriff. I think the county commission” should meet and work with City Council regularly. 

“I have a record of getting everybody at the table. This isn’t something that stays with the people of Asheville. I want to have community collaboratives,” Martin asserted.

 For a second question to the commissioner’s candidates, Freeman asked, “What positive steps would you take to stem skyrocketing property taxes?”

Answering first, Martin said, “Our Comprehensive Plan will be a good step at dealing with real numbers. I’m concerned about addressing property taxes for people who live here year-round. If we’re not candid about that, it’s incorrect. 

“So let’s focus on real numbers. I’m very concerned, especially for our neighborhoods. Our black neighborhoods are facing really high real estate taxes,” Martin said.

Next, Whitesides said, “To start with, a lot of the problem we have wth property taxes starts with the state legislature. We’ve got to make our property taxes not only fair, but a lot more equitable. We’re losing people, while in South Carolona — after you’re (age) 65 or over — they freeze your taxes to where they were. 

“We need to update our tax structure because it’s not in the 21st century. It is a problem in what was the historically black community. If we don’t take care of this problem, some of them will have to sell their land. Here again, we need to work with the city. When you add your city and county taxes together, that’s another problem. I think we could work together to combine services and tighten our belts, especially to help the working people of the county.”

To the same question, Pressley said, “Just imagine one-third of the houses in the county being sold for the tax value. What we’re doing is people are moving in from other areas, ‘skyrocketing’ our property taxes. The money could go toward affordable housing to help get people off the street. We have let the problem procreate, but we need to fix it. We need to talk to our legislators and tell them this has got to be changed.”

Penland said, “Our elderly folks who have lived here — we’ve got to make sure we do something. Maybe we could freeze it? So we need to ask those tough questions — what can we do? 

“We also need to make sure it’s fair across the board. We’ve also got to follow the money and see what the issue is. Are there programs in place where we can save money? The way I do my budget, if I have money I can save,” then Penland said he saves it — rather than spending everything.

“The thing is, we’ve got to be careful. It’s the role of government… We’ve got to work together to come up with a solution to the problem,” Penland noted.

Yelton replied, “Well, I’m going to say it — you’ve heard the solutions right here tonight. Robert came up with a great one — ‘up’ the values of the houses right after they’re sold. The only problem is they increase the values of all the houses in the neighborhood. I hear this — ‘It’s the legislature.’

“Who elects the legislature? It’s down the the brass tacks. .. You’ve got to take the money you’ve got and make it work. Everybody wants to do all of the ‘grand and glory’ schemes,” Yelton said.

Manheimer, Asheville’s mayor arrived as Freeman saved for last the questions for the two mayoral candidates. For his first question, he asked, “Do you plan to ‘reimagine’ policing in Asheville? How would you do it?”

Speaking first, Roney answered, “Absolutely! We’re not meeting our obligations (now). We’re planning for vacancies. So what can that look like? I’d like the city to lead not lag.

“I’m currently working with the Code Purple Shelters. We just went through an extreme crisis with the COVID pandemic.

“What I’d like to see us do is to have a humane response to homelessness, opioid crisis and the other problems.

“Let’s pay our staff so they can afford to live here (in the Asheville area),” Roney said.

In her response, Manheimer began by asserting, “I apologize for being here late. I was participating in the Big Brothers Big Sisters’ event tonight….. I think Asheville should be a place where our children can grow up — I feel like achieving that job for you is what I should do — and do do — for you.”

On a personal note, the mayor said, “I’m married to a coach at Enka High School” and has children in local schools.

As for public safety, “To me it’s very personal... I hear a lot from the community about concerns about public safety... We know the way we’ve done things in the past has resulted in systemic racism.”

As mayor, “The first thing” she did on public safety “is we consolidated the public safety center... I do support the concept of a low-barrier shelter .”

Also, in an effort to help the severely understaffed APD, council — with her support — approved shifting matters including “animal control, some traffic control and noise complaints” to other city agencies.

Next, Freeman asked, “What steps would you take to support police now — and how do you plan help them attract and retain better quality candidates?”

Manheimer began her answer by noting, “It (APD staffing) is actually down more than 40 percent right now, Our police department is actually in a crisis situation right now....

“Sometime since I became mayor, it’s become a political thing whether you support the police. Community safety is important and it is necessary to have a well-staffed and well-trained police department. It’s also important that we help our police department work in community. 

“We need to have a cross-communty dialogue.We are community. We want to be safe. We also don’t want to confine people of color in institutions.That’s not radical — that’s not defunding police,” Manheimer asserted.

Roney, Manheimer’s rival for the mayoralty, said, “We need to invest in community safety, so we need to come together to see what it would be like to reimagine public safety. If we send the right person — like an expert in domestic violence (rather than a patrolman) — we will see a decrease in violent crime.”

In a final question for the mayoral candidates, Freeman asked, “What are your thoughts on low-barrier shelters, camping and needle programs” If elected, how would you ‘move’ on these issues?”

Roney replied, “There was a lot of pressure to move people — we could have provided bathrooms, but we didn’t.... “

She added, “Missoula, Montana, is an example of a city that says, you know, we’re spending lots of money on hotel rooms — they’ve looked into affordable camping. We have citywide unmanaged camping. 

“Our needle programs? The reason we have needle exchanges in North Carolina is because it saves lives.” (Roney’s remark on saving lives prompted some applause from the forum attendees.)

“What we don’t have is really good sanitation options,” Roney continued. “I thought a good idea was following the model of Portland, Maine, with needle disposal” receptacles.

Responding to the same question, Manheimer said, “The pandemic has brought to light for us some serious challenges we have in our community. Before the pandemic, I didn’t hear mcuh from residents about issues with our ‘unhoused.’ Our numbers have jumped from 500 to 600 or 625 unhoused people recently. They were not in shelter beds on the night of the shelter bed count. 

“One of the things we’ve learned from all of this is we are silos. We have to coordinate all of this ourselves, if we’re going to be effective. I’m very supportive of low-barrier shelters and I’m going to tell you why. I have learned we are missing this piece of the puzzle.

“So if you’re going to spend a night on the street, a low-barrier shelter is an option. I don’t think managed camping is an option. We’ve asked our (commercial) camps in Asheville,” if they would be interested in managing a homeless camp. “Nobody wants to do that job.”

Freeman, the moderator, finished the forum with five questions for the candidates — and he said “I save the hardest question for the end... If our one zoning is removed, how do you plan to keep the character of our established neighborhoods?”

Roney replied, “So we have an issue with airbnbs. We need to make sure zoning is compliant — or change it to ‘commercial use.’ If you don’t have a pubic body that’s going to set high standards, then it’s a tool that’s going to cause a lot of harm.”

Tovish answered, “Our one zoning has served its purpose in many ways by protecting the property value of those who have the most. Changing our zoning doesn’t mean” they have to sell and move from the area.

“I think the root of this question is ‘in-fill.’ — to allow people to make better use” of their property to achieve a higher population density.

“Can we do this and maintain the value of our neighborhoods” Tovish asked, rhetorically. “I think with proper zoning, we can do both.”

Manheimer said, “Talk is that state legislatures would enact zoning, eliminating R1 zoning...

“First of all, I’m not about to have anything like that happening in North Carolina. What this is trying to address is missing ‘middle housing.’ As a practical matter, this is why City Council funded a study … If it were to happen in theory, we still have other ordinances to protect us.”

Scott noted, “I agree with everything that’s been said. I grew up in trailer parks. When I hear ‘the character of older, established neighborhoods’ — my question would be: ‘Who gets to define the character of the neighborhoods?’”

Further, Scott said, “The character of the neighborhoods has changed dramatically in my lifetime.

“We can’t freeze it in time. We can approach it with balance. It needs to honor where we want to move to.”

Fletcher asserted, “When you have growth that is exponential versus elemental ... I think we need to completely revise our zoning. We have real needs around housing.

“I think we need to embrace incremental growth and abandon exponential growth. But I’m an ‘environmental’ candidate. I’m a ‘quality of life’ candidate. You have to create neighborhoods with jobs.”

What’s more, Flecher said, “Y’all are going to have to throw out anybody who ruins your community.”

The final reply to the final question came from Ullman, who said, “I think, no, I wouldn’t think about getting rid of single-family zoning. I think there are better things we could do. To start there, it seems aggressive and short-sighted. The question of how we fit more people in a limited amount of space” requires much more thought.

Ultimately, “I don’t think ‘the market’ will address what we (in Asheville) need,” Ullman concluded,



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