Area Info / PARC Candidates' Forum 2009

PARC Candidates' Forum 2009

On September 15, the Randolph Learning Center hosted the People Advocating Real Conservancy (PARC) candidates' forum for the upcoming city council elections. Cecil Bothwell, J. Neal Jackson, Esther Manheimer, Kelly Miller, Carl Mumpower, Ceasar Romero and Gordon Smith gathered in order to voice their views on recent city council decisions and explicate their political platforms. The candidates were asked "Yes, No, or Pass" questions concerning various issues that have arisen recently. For example, the first question was "Yes, No, or Pass, would you have voted to build the Ellington [hotel & condominium]?" Each candidate was given up to two minutes for each answer and a one-minute rebuttal was allowed if one candidate mentioned another candidate in their response.

The candidates running for the council come from diverse backgrounds and have wide-ranging political views. Most of the questions dealt with decisions in the past, concerning new construction. Candidates were asked about the sale of the land at Pack Square Park, clear cutting the top of Richmond Hill Park and the sale of air rights at 21 Battery Park. They were also asked about their stances on upcoming City Council votes like the sales of air rights in general and the re-acquisition of park land from Steward Coleman.

Cecil Bothwell, the oldest candidate running, voted in favor of the opening of green spaces and against the sale of air rights and new developments in and around the city, such as the land sale in Pack Square Park for a high-rise condominium. Bothwell was also one of only two candidates to not answer "pass" on any of the issues.

J. Neal Jackson, a UNCA graduate who feels that running for city council is his civic duty, voted "Yes" for the building of the Ellington and "Pass" on all questions concerning the sales of air rights. Jackson also answered "Yes" to conservation easements for city parks and "No" on the building of the high rise.

Esther Manheimer, a mother with a law degree, answered "No" on passing a resolution to stop the sale of air rights and "Yes" on the selling of land at Pack Square for the building of a high-rise. She also responded that she would have been in favor of forcing Staples to comply with the building code. Manheimer passed on questions concerning the air rights at 21 Battery Park and creating green spaces in front of the Basilica of St. Lawrence.

Kelly Miller, an Alaska native who has been living in the Asheville area for 10 years, answered "Yes" to the building of the Ellington, "No" to the clear-cutting at Richmond Hill Park and also passed on all questions regarding the sale of air rights.

Carl Mumpower, the vice mayor of two years and council member of eight, responded "Yes" to both the clear-cutting at Richmond Hill Park and the sale of land for building high-rise condos. Mumpower was also against the creation of a green space in front of the Basilica of St. Lawrence. Mumpower was the second candidate to not answer "pass" on any of the questions.

Caesar Romero, who is from Nicaragua and has been living in Asheville since September of 2005, surprisingly voted "Pass" on all questions but one. Romero's key campaign issues are advocating equal rights for the elderly and the disabled as well as reducing crime and protecting small businesses. The one question that he did answer was "Yes" to protecting the Chimneys [downtown, specifically Grove Arcade] from being closed after election.

Gordon Smith, a Warren-Wilson graduate, gave "Yes" responses to the questions concerning Staples and conservation easements in city parks. He answered "No" to all air rights sales questions and passed on the issues of taking back parkland and creating a green space in front of the Basilica.