Hello readers. This morning we sent out our Asheville Mayor and Council questionnaire. I can't thank you all enough for your sharp, detailed and insightful questions and suggestions. Every year I'm repeatedly reminded of our readership's breadth of knowledge and care about our city. Every year narrowing them down, refining and consolidating our election questions is one of the most difficult tasks I have as the Blade's editor because of limited space and the sheer number of really good ones we end up with.
This year was the most difficult yet, by far. It proves to be a key year in our local politics as well, with a majority of seats up for election and some very serious issues at stake.
If you don't see a questions near and dear to your heart here, don't despair. There were *a lot* of really valid issues to cover and we'll also be asking candidates detailed questions after the primary for our general election guide.
Tomorrow, Sept. 15 is the last day to register to vote in this year's Oct. 10 primary. Early voting begins Sept. 21 and runs every weekday through Oct. 7.
The questions we decided on are below. Again, thank you all for your thoughts and support.
These questions are about problems, challenges or topics facing city government and how you will try to deal with them if elected.
1. Of the current top city officials that answer directly to City Council — City Attorney, City Manager and City Clerk — which ones would you favor retaining or firing? Why?
2. The powers granted to the planning and zoning commission are a key point of debate in how Asheville should deal with growth and how much of a direct role elected officials should play. Do you think those powers should change, If so, how?
3. Some Pisgah Legal Services attorneys recently criticized city staff's enforcement of tenant protections, asserting that they don't sufficiently enforce the written ordinance and place additional burdens on tenants dealing with bad landlords. How would you change or reinforce the city's tenant protections and their enforcement?
4. In response to a community push that cited the de facto segregation shown in reports like the State of Black Asheville, the Buncombe County Commissioners recently supported taking funds intended for a jail expansion and instead putting them towards community support and rehabilitation. Do you favor a similar shifting of Asheville's law enforcement funds? If so, to what extent and to what kind of programs?
5. What course of action do you favor in dealing with Asheville's Confederate regime and segregation-era monuments?
These questions are about specific proposals Asheville City Council has or may consider, and how you would vote on them. The first word of each answer must be Yes or No.
6. Earlier this year, the local NAACP — backed by the Southern Coalition for Social Justice — called for several reforms in an attempt to address racial disparities in the APD's traffic stops. Those reforms included: ending regulatory stops for minor issues like expired registration or a busted headlight, written consent for a driver agreeing to allow a vehicle search and a transparent investigation into why full stop numbers may not have been reported to the SBI. Do you favor the full and immediate adoption of these reforms?
7. Do you favor extending the ban on whole home/apartment Airbnb-style rentals to areas where the practice is currently allowed, such as downtown and the River Arts District?
8. Do you favor the city establishing a rental crisis fund that would give direct monetary assistance to those in danger of being pushed out by rapidly rising rents, with priority given to those in the most marginalized and rapidly-gentrifying neighborhoods?
9. Lambda Legal and other civil rights groups have dubbed HB142 a “fake repeal” of the HB2 legislation that discriminates against LGBT (especially trans) people and sued to overturn it. Should the city of Asheville formally condemn HB142, pass a non-discrimination ordinance in defiance of it and prepare to defend that ordinance in court?
10. Should the city of Asheville declare itself a sanctuary city, as some social justice and immigrants rights' advocates have called for?