It has been my privilege to serve as a Buncombe County Commissioner for the past year. With your support, we have made real progress in education, clean energy, and equal rights.
Here are highlights of the issues I’ve championed during my service on Commission:
- Other than their homes, there is no place that children spend a greater amount of time than their schools. This is why it’s so important that we provide safe, welcoming school environments for all our students.
- In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, we took action to increase safety. We hired more resource officers and also more counselors who are able to help students struggling with mental health issues.
- While our state Legislature severely cut funding for schools and teachers, our county made schools our top priority. We committed to build a new Isaac Dickson Elementary School, a new Asheville Middle School, a new Intermediary School in Enka, and a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math themed high school program.
- Choosing clean energy is a commitment to improving our health and quality of life and to boosting and diversifying our economy. Freeing ourselves from a fossil fuels dependence is necessary; the sooner we accomplish that, the better off our children will be. For those reasons, working to make our county a national leader in clean energy and energy independence continues to be my top priority on Commission.
- I sponsored an Energy Independence proposal that commits the county to reducing its carbon footprint by 80%. The county also conducted an energy audit of its buildings. By 5-2 vote, the Commission adopted the proposal and will implement the recommendations of the audit. In addition to other benefits, we Buncombe County taxpayers will save more than $1 million dollars over the next 10 years as a result of these changes.
- I am committed to making Buncombe County a more welcoming and inclusive community for all. That is why I have advocated for equal rights for our public employees and pushed for the adoption of a Domestic Partnership policy. This policy ensures that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered employees of Buncombe County receive the same employment compensation and benefits as other employees.
- Buncombe County is one of just four counties in North Carolina to support equal rights for LGBT employees. The equal rights policy passed on a 4-3 vote.
Our community has shown tremendous support for locally owned businesses. In recognition of that support and the benefits of keeping our dollars local, I am working with our Commission to create a new small business micro-loan program. These loans can foster small, local businesses by helping aspiring entrepreneurs get their ventures off the ground.
Our community appreciates that greenways protect water quality, create a more bike- and pedestrian-friendly community, and encourage healthy, active lifestyles for people of all ages. I will use my experience and leadership on Commission to prioritize implementation of the Buncombe County greenways plan.