Original post Nov. 20: The race for seats on the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners is taking shape. North Carolina’s primary election is only four months away. Candidates have from Dec. 1 until Dec. 21 to file for election. Here’s a quick look.
Current Chairman David Gantt announced earlier this year that he would not seek re-election next year. That opened the door for fellow county Commissioner Brownie Newman to announce that he would seek the chairman’s seat. Newman, a Democrat, was elected to the county board in 2012. Before being elected a county commissioner, Newman won a seat on Asheville City Council in 2003 and again in 2007. Newman is an environmentalist by vocation. He’s a former executive director of the Western North Carolina Alliance environmental nonprofit, now known as MountainTrue. In 2008, he helped establish FLS Energy, a local solar energy company.
Commissioners Brownie Newman and Holly Jones currently represent this district, but both have said they’re seeking other elected offices. Newman has launched a campaign for chairman of the Board of Commissioners, while Jones is running for the statewide seat of lieutenant governor.
Two incumbent Asheville City Council members – Democrats Cecil Bothwell and Gordon Smith – have announced that they’re running for these two seats. Bothwell, a popular progressive candidate in the city, has said he’s running on his core issues: “advocacy of sustainable energy solutions, defense of civil liberties and advocacy for forward-looking transportation and transit planning.” He ran an unsuccessful campaign in 2008 for commissioner. Smith, who has served on City Council since 2009, has touted his track record as “a policy leader on job creation, affordable housing, food security, transportation, and equality.”
Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, who is director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, an local advocacy group that supports gay marriage, has also filed to run. Beach-Ferrara said in announcing that she wants to work on issues such as child poverty, education and affordable housing.
Long-time community civil rights activist Isaac Coleman is a third announced candidate. The Democrat was named an “Asheville living treasure” last year, and in receiving that accolade, it was noted that in addition to working for educational and economic opportunities for minorities, Coleman had a long career as a building inspector and housing authority manager.
Small business owner Matt Kern has announced his run for District 2. From his website: “Matt made his way back to Asheville and worked for Neighborhood Housing Services, building affordable housing projects and writing grants. He then decided to start his own residential construction Company, M.C Kern Contracting, Inc, in 2003. Matt has also been a Co-Organizer of the very successful French Broad River Festival, Inc. since 1997.” He’s also served on a number of boards and commissions.