It is an honor to serve as Chair of the Buncombe County Commission. Here are some of the issues that have been a priority for me.
A Commitment to Public Education
While the North Carolina Legislature has cut funding for schools and teachers, Buncombe County has made public education our top priority. We have increased investment in Buncombe County and Asheville City Schools by more than 40% over the past five years, which has enabled long-overdue pay-raises for our public school teachers and other school workers. We have also committed to $3 million in annual funding for expanded Early Childhood Education and Pre-K funding.
A Commitment to Renewable Energy
I want Buncombe County to be a national leader for clean energy. As Chair, I sponsored passage of the Resolution that commits Buncombe County to using 100% renewable energy for our local government operations by 2030 and for the broader local economoy by 2040. I have also sponsored the initiative to develop a 5 MW solar farm on the county’s retired landfill in Woodfin and install solar on more thn 50 county buildings and public schools througout the community. To avoid any appearance of financial conflict of interest, the solar company that I own has never bid on any contracts with Buncombe County and will not do so in the future. I hope my ten years of experience in this sector can be of value to the county as we pursue our ambitious renewable energy goals, but I have no business interests in the county projects.
A Commitment to $15 an Hour Minimum Wage
I led efforts to increase the minimum wage for all county employees to $15 an hour. As one of the largest employers in the community, we are hopeful this will encourage other employers to increase the minimum wage for their employees as well. Everyone who works in this community should be able to afford to live in this community.
Support for Greenways and Land Protection.
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. I have also supported the county’s efforts to permanently protect family farmland and natural areas through expanded use of conservation easements in the county.