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A Year in Review: WNC Reflects on Political Changes in 2022

Public interest in politics in western North Carolina may have reached a climax on May 17, when the Republican House of Representatives took office. Madison Cawthorne gave up his first reelection race to Chuck EdwardsWith the controversial freshman in North Carolina’s 11th District no longer running for office, the WNC appeared to have lost its appeal to those outside the region.

But for those who actually live in WNC, the year continued to bring a series of meaningful political developments.Buncombe County Commission Goes Full Blue Instead of Republicans Robert Presley with the Democratic Party Martin MooreThe county’s state legislative delegation was completely overthrown, and three new Democrats won the first election after three veteran members retired. In the first election for the Asheville City Board of Education, voters chose his four new representatives.

These local politics may be more important to the daily lives of WNC residents than what is going on in Washington. Express We reached out to local elected officials, activists and community leaders to learn more about what they’ve taken away from political action in 2022.

What were the most meaningful election results for this year’s WNC and why?

“I was encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive response to the Buncombe County bond for open space and affordable housing. , maintaining WNC’s natural beauty, access to outdoor recreation, and affordable housing for its employees. We are thrilled to have voted to fund a solution for and look forward to the outcome.” — Jennifer Caldwell-Bilstrom, Founder, Velo Girl Rides

“Following discussions with the Asheville Food and Beverage United Steering Committee on the issue of the most meaningful election results for this year’s WNC, we feel it is important that the Central Labor Council endorsed two candidates. . Maggie Ullman When Antanette Moseley — was elected to the city council. The AFBU did not endorse any candidate in this election, but looks forward to working with elected officials committed to advancing the interests of Asheville workers and organized workers. I’m here. ”— Jen Hampton, Organizer, Asheville Food and Beverage United

“For the Asheville City Board of Education, this process was meaningful because it was the first time the board had elected members. I was a candidate approved by the Teachers Association. It always makes me happy when people listen to me.” — Sarah Bodie Norris, activist and teacher

“[The most meaningful results included] Buncombe County has the second-highest percentage of Democratic votes in the state, behind Durham County, and received votes in favor of the continuation of the Asheville City Council with the re-election of the mayor and two city council members. ”— Ken Blame, Political Committee Chair of WNC Sierra Club

“I think it was voter turnout across the state, not just WNC. , it appears that only 51% of voters actually voted in North Carolina, in elections and in our democracy.” — Ron Katz, advocate for social justice

On which political issues do you think the local conversation is most misguided, and how does your approach differ from the commonly held point of view?

“I think there is a misconception about what the Asheville City Council can and cannot do. , the latter being much more complex and requiring far more resources than the city has.” — Ken Blame

“Our conversations and actions towards our currently vacant neighbors need urgent improvement. It is easy for us to ‘stranger’ these people, but compassion is always the right first. I think we as a community need to be more open to addressing our backyard mentality and fundamentally rethinking how we talk about and solve these problems.BeLoved Asheville and Homeward Bound for leading this effort. ”— Drew Reisinger, Buncombe County Register Certified Copy

“The most misunderstood political issue is the perception that an insurmountable divide exists between Buncombe County and its local neighbors, hindering cooperation and progress. There is good reason to find practical solutions for , economic development, and public safety, without sacrificing our soul and what makes WNC so special, as we did with Papertown. Ideas, new people, new interests can be welcomed.” — Zeb Smathers, canton Mayor

“What makes me different is that I encourage all of us to look at the causes that are causing suffering in our communities, rather than focusing on the symptoms. We need communication, we elect our representatives but they won’t hear from us unless we are privileged to attend the meeting.For us it is more about building relationships and meeting each other’s needs than what is right for us. It is important to know.”— Robin Josephus, Admin/Community Manager, Black Mountain Exchange and Asheville Politics

How do you think local politicians can do their best to regain the trust of the people they serve?

“The ways I am working to establish and maintain trust include: Open meetings to promote participatory democracy and address barriers to public participation. Advocate for policy Share information about upcoming decisions Tell how to reach your position Maintain my public record: my votes, my communications at meetings and in the press, my communications As an elected City Councilor, I also make regular recommendations to improve the accessibility and transparency of our organizational processes.” — Kim Loney, Asheville City Council

“The unique status of local politicians gives them institutional power and local recognition. They are aware of their power, maintain a local presence, empathize with voters, To know what will benefit voters, they need to be listened to, including local programs and policies (such as climate action plans). This includes offering multiple options for soliciting public input, and acknowledging voter feedback, whether that feedback takes the form of emails or protests.” — Erica Meyer, Hub Coordinator, Sunrise Movement Asheville

“Trust is hard to earn but easy to lose. Becoming a community servant takes a lot of work and sacrifice. The biggest advice I can give is ‘steady and win the race’.” I’m more interested in seeing honest and consistent leaders than in wanting to see brilliant leaders. What our community needs is stability. It’s not about another ‘new event’, it’s about deploying a treasure that’s already here. ”— Bruce Waller, Black Wall Street AVL Executive Director

“Politicians can restore public trust by participating on a personal level in the most meaningful events in our lives. It is worrying that we have not seen our members show support, and as a leader of the Indigenous rights movement in Asheville, it is important to know that our members of the Council have been involved in our community in making land grants. It is interesting that there is not.”— Jared Wheatley, Founder of the Indigenous Wall Project

What’s the best example you’ve seen locally this year of people with different political beliefs working together towards a common goal?

“In a bipartisan effort, Buncombe County’s lodging tax allocation has been successfully changed after years of advocacy by local hotel leaders and elected officials. Bill co-sponsored by Sens. . Chuck Edwards, Warren Daniel When Julie Mayfield Passed in July, it changed the distribution of the lodging tax paid by visitors staying at hotels, vacation rentals and B&Bs in Buncombe County. This is a hard-won result for our community. ”— Vic Isley, President and CEO, Explore Ashville

“Two indigenous women, Lavita Hill When Mary Crow, from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, have worked to restore the ancestral name of the mountain we know as Clingmans Dome to its historical name of Kwohi. The Buncombe County Commission was the first government agency outside the Cherokee to support their efforts, followed soon after by the town of Andrews, the city of Asheville, and Swain County. This bipartisan effort is inspiring. ”— Drew Reisinger

“Water is life. Like the Cherokee Eastern Band Coalition, reaching common-sense solutions to appropriate environmental injustices and reconnecting species habitats for species to thrive in the face of climate change. Time and time again we have seen people and communities come together for the sake of the Indians founded to reconnect the Oconaluftee River.The river connects us and gives us clean water wherever we go. I hope we can continue to work together to put it in.” — Erin McCombs, Southeastern Conservation Director, American Rivers

“AFBU’s parking discount campaign has garnered significant support. Our campaign brings workers, business owners and community leaders together with elected officials to make small political differences. It has demonstrated the power to advance the common good regardless.” — Jen Hampton

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