Lindsey Simerly, who has worked for the legalization of gay marriage as campaign manager for the Campaign for Southern Equality the past four years, announced her bid for Asheville City Council on Saturday.
Simerly ran an unsuccessful bid for Asheville City Council in 2007, but went on to work on successful campaigns for Buncombe County Commissioners Brownie Newman and Holly Jones, as well as Asheville City Councilman Gordon Smith. Simerly also worked as a field representative for former U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler.
Three Asheville City Council seats are up for election – those held by Marc Hunt, Chris Pelly and Jan Davis. Pelly and Davis have said they’re not seeking re-election, while Hunt has announced that he is running for another term.
The following are the other candidates who have announced plans to run: Corey Atkins, Keith Young, Rich Lee, Julie Mayfield, Grant Millin and Jonathan Wainscott. With Hunt and Simerly, that brings the total number of candidates to eight. There will be an October primary election to cut the field to six, with the general election to follow in November. Candidates file formal intentions to run in July.
Here’s Simerly’s announcement on Facebook:
Today I am excited to announce that I am running for Asheville City Council. I’ve been fighting to give working people a chance while experiencing firsthand what it means to work full-time and yet still struggle to make rent. I’ve been fighting for full LGBT equality while knowing firsthand what discrimination feels like. These experiences set me apart—and that’s a voice we need now on City Council.
And here’s more from a Simerly press release posted at Mountain Xpress:
“I’ve been fighting to give working people a chance while experiencing firsthand what it means to work full-time and yet still struggle to make rent. I’ve been fighting for full LGBT equality while knowing firsthand what discrimination feels like. These experiences set me apart—and that’s a voice we need now on City Council,” said Simerly.
Simerly has served as the city’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee Chair since 2012. She has introduced policies including revising land use ordinances to increase housing density, annual increases in funding for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund until it reaches the goal of 1 cent per $100 of assessed value of all property in the City, and setting an annual target number of newly created affordable housing units.
“I understand why housing issues matter so desperately to families and working people in Asheville,” said Simerly. “I have 12 years of experience in policy making, organizing, collaborating, and engaging the community right here in Asheville. Beyond this, I know what it means to struggle to get by in a city that’s becoming less affordable every day.”
Simerly first moved to Asheville at age 18, finding work as a cook at Waffle House, a construction worker, and a maintenance technician at the French Broad Food Co-op. Now, at age 30, Simerly is a civil rights worker with experience in social justice and environmental advocacy, and electoral politics.
For the past four years, Simerly has rallied for marriage equality as the Campaign Manager for the Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE). Headquartered in Asheville, CSE was instrumental in the lawsuit that legalized same-sex marriage in North Carolina.
Simerly is past Campaign Director for the Dogwood Alliance, which protects Southeastern forests; the past Field Director for Congressman Heath Shuler’s successful re-election in 2010; and has worked on the campaigns of County Commissioners Holly Jones and Brownie Newman and City Councilman Gordon Smith.
Simerly said Councilman Chris Pelly’s decision to forgo a re-election campaign “creates a gap in advocacy for affordable housing and representation for East Asheville, a gap that I can fill.”
Simerly is a homeowner in Haw Creek, which is also Pelly’s neighborhood. Simerly said she will also draw on her experiences of having lived in most parts of the city, most recently in West Asheville.
Simerly and her fiance Melissa Wilson, a licensed clinical social worker serving middle school students, have a two-year old daughter.