It is an honor to serve as a Buncombe County Commissioner. Here are some of the priorities I am focused on as a County Commissioner.
A Commitment to Public Education
While the North Carolina Legislature has severely cut funding for schools and teachers, Buncombe County has made public education our top priority. We have invested more than $50 million to build a new Isaac Dickson Elementary School, a new Asheville Middle School and a new Intermediary School in Enka. Buncombe County has launched the Nesbitt Discovery Academy – the first STEM School (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) west of Charlotte. We support our teachers by providing supplemental salary funding above and beyond state funding levels.
A Commitment to Clean Energy
I want Buncombe County to be a national leader for clean energy. I sponsored an Energy Independence Initiative that commits Buncombe County to reduce its carbon footprint by 80%. To implement this plan, the county conducted an energy audit of all our public buildings. By 5-2 vote, the Commission adopted the proposal. We are now implementing the energy efficiency projects identified in our plan. Buncombe County taxpayers will save more than $1 million dollars over the next 10 years as a result of these improvements by reducing our utility expenses.
A Commitment to Equality
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 voted for the adoption of a Domestic Partnership policy. This policy ensures LGBT employees who work for Buncombe County receive the same compensation and benefits as other employees doing the same work. We adopted our policy on a 4-3 vote in 2013, making Buncombe just the fourth county in North Carolina to support equal rights for LGBT employees.
Support for local business
Our community strongly supports locally owned businesses. Recognizing the benefits of keeping our dollars local, I co-sponsored a proposal with Commissioner Ellen Frost 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.
Support for County Greenways Network
I am an advocate for implementing our County Greenways Plan. Greenways protect water quality, create a more bike and pedestrian-friendly community, and encourage healthy, active lifestyles for people of all ages. As the Vice-Chair of the Metropolitan Planning Organization, I am working with many dedicated organizations in our community that are passionate about greenways to move the top priority projects forward.
– Brownie Newman