The 7-member Board sets the policy for the county, determining the strategic vision for the county, appoints a county manager, attorney and others to serve the county, adopts ordinances, including zoning, and establishes an annual budget, which includes setting the tax rate and calling bond referendums. Commissioners are elected in partisan elections in even-numbered years and serve staggered 4-year terms.
I'm doubling down on hope and empathy
and working for policies that help people thrive, like early childhood education and affordable housing.
The most important issue we currently face is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic to keep people safe, save lives, and stay safely open. This means being guided by public health recommendations and focusing on prevention, testing, tracing, and treatment. It also means responding to the urgent needs in our community resulting from the economic downturn and continued closures. Looking forward, another critical issue is ensuring that every child in Buncombe County has an equal opportunity to thrive. To support children and families, we need to expand support for early childhood education and for our public schools and increase access to affordable housing and public transportation.
Buncombe County Commission should continue to actively partner with Buncombe County Schools and Asheville City Schools to ensure that every child in our community can thrive. State funding cuts have put tremendous pressure on our local school systems and teachers; local governments have needed to step up, and Buncombe County has. This includes investing in programs to address the opportunity and achievement gap; investing in early childhood education; ensuring that teachers and staff are paid respectful salaries; addressing issues of homelessness and food insecurity for children; and partnering with schools systems to ensure that during virtual learning, every child has access to a laptop and internet and other vital resources.
I am proud to have helped pass a policy ensuring that Buncombe County employees earn a minimum of $15/hour and believe we can play an important role in advocating for more local employers to commit to paying living wages. I support additional funding for the One Buncombe Fund, which provides emergency assistance to workers and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic; developing job training and education programs in partnership with AB-Tech, local schools systems, and local employers; and economic development policies that promote 21st Century jobs, including in the green economy.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical to support frontline service providers who are working directly with those experiencing the pain of this health and economic crisis - whether that is food banks, emergency legal aid, or homelessness. We also need to expand access to mental health and addiction treatment, an issue which impacts so many families across Buncombe County. In particular, so many have been impacted by the opioid crisis. I will continue to advocate for strategies that respond with compassion and efficacy to these needs, such as expanding access to medication assisted treatment for opioid addiction; and implementing reforms in the justice system that break cycles of addiction, crisis, and arrest and help people get the care and treatment they need.
Focused On Our Future
We must be reminded that safety & security are foundation blocks of a person's basic needs and one of the first duties of government.
As we address the many issues of hunger, opioids, homeless, affordable housing, greenspaces, education, social services, and job opportunities, all of these efforts MUST be paired with Safety & Security. Public Safety and other core services are at the forefront of dealing with many of these problems day to day and must be supported as part of the overall plan.
The county commission has to work with the local school system, state representatives and many others to make sure that our local schools continue to get the resources needed. The school system includes teachers, administrators, support staff, bus drivers, school resource officers, coaches and the entire service that all work hard to grow our children. All those resources must work in conjunction with families. I want all students to be given the same opportunity that I was given. The influence of a good teacher can never be diminished. We have to collaborate and support our local schools and support ALL school personnel.
When elected I will research the current policy, adopted in 2017, to ask some hard questions. Is the current policy focused on job creation for our Buncombe County Citizens first? Are we bringing in jobs for our people first or are we bringing in jobs that primarily bring in new people? Is the current policy supporting local small business? I will do the research that is needed to help small business owners. History has shown us across the country that big employers get the incentives needed to move from one location to another. Can those same incentives be given to a small local business to entice growth and job opportunities for more our county citizens?
As a first responder of 30 years in this county, I have come face to face with those citizens in need of strong social services. Whether responding to a child who is living in deplorable conditions or an elderly person who lives alone without adequate food, there are tragic circumstances for some of our citizens happening right now. As a continued focus on safety and security, these citizens are also in need of improved protection. This task can be accomplished through supporting public safety, social services and other community support services. We need each Buncombe County Citizen to know that we care about their wellbeing from the beginning of life to the last day.