Here are my responses to the
Asheville Get There Questionnaire
1. Are you planning to attend “The Step Right Up” on Sept. 22nd? Yes, I plan to participate in this forum.
2. Tell us something about your transportation habits. How do you get around Asheville? As an avid runner, I try to limit my time in my car as much as possible. I live just a couple miles from work, so I do enjoy strolling to work on occasion. However, I do strive not do it more often in addition to riding my bike to work more. I am an infrequent bus rider due to the nature of our bus service. In the past, I have taken the bus to work, but I do find using it all the time can prove to be quite a challenge. I do generally drive around town, but I enjoy leaving my car parked at home whenever possible.
3. What recent advancement in Asheville’s transportation infrastructure do you think has had the greatest impact on our community? Why? I believe the greatest impact to our transportation infrastructure is the addition of the hybird buses. I can’t wait until the entire fleet has been replaced. This is a huge step toward reducing our carbon footprint and doing our part to minimize climate change.
4. Even if you haven’t held elected office, you’ve likely been an active member of Asheville’s community. Please describe one thing you’ve done to make our city friendlier to pedestrians, cyclists and/or bus riders. As a runner and community activist, I have organized The Gay 5K footrace as a fundraiser for Blue Ridge Pride. By putting my resources to pull off this event, I gave the community a chance to compete in a fun race and get some exercise while enjoying the beauty of Carrier Park. As a runner, I also keep my eyes on where I am going as to no run over a pedestrian or get in the way of a cyclist.
5a) As a council member, would you advocate for the implementation of the city’s Bicycle Master Plan? If so, in what specific ways? If not, why not? I would push to have the city’s Bicycle Master Plan put in place as quickly as possible. I will advocate for more bike lanes in high density areas that they are needed. We must have more bike lanes, so our cyclists will be safer on the roads. In addition, I would push for a bike helmet ordinance that would require the use of a helmet when riding a bike on our city streets. This will save lives and prevent head injuries. I would also implement a helmet donor program to assist those riders that do not have the money to purchase their own helmets.
5b) If you are a current council member, have you advocated for the implementation of the city’s Bicycle Master Plan? In what specific ways?
6a) As a council member, would you advocate for the implementation of theTransit Master Plan? If you’d advocate for the plan, how would you encourage increasing ridership? If you wouldn’t advocate for the plan, why not? This is a no-brainer. My goal is for the complete implementation of the Transit Master Plan. I personally want to see the time table of implementation sped up. I believe the biggest piece of the puzzle to increase ridership is Sunday bus service and more frequent routes in areas that already have high ridership. If the service is easier and efficient to use, then the people will ride the bus.
6b) If you are a current council member, in what specific ways have you advocated for the passage and/or implementation of the Transit Master Plan? What are some of the challenges with the implementation of the transit plan?
7.What role do you think greenways play in Asheville’s future? Greenways are not just a place to run, walk or bike for recreation, we must pust forward with the Greenway Master Plan and link all of Asheville to the greenway. This is a great tool to allow people to get out of their cars and get around town on foot or bike. Greenways can be a vital piece of our infrastructure and make Asheville healthier and help to make our environment just that much more greener.
8. Past City Councils invested in planning efforts. Our city has a Sustainability Management Plan, a Greenway Master Plan, a Bicycle Master Plan, a Transit Master Plan, and a Pedestrian Thoroughfare Plan. The next step is to fund the implementation of these plans. In these hard economic times, how would you propose to fund these plans? Or, do these plans need to be cut? If you think the plans need to be trimmed, what plans or pieces of plans should be cut? We need a comprehensive approach to funding this projects. We need to treat these projects like our streets, because this is the wave of the future – travel outside of the automobile. It is time that America divorced and the car and fell back in love with their feet or pedals. We need to look at public-private partnerships to fund this project. If businesses and private individuals take an active role in funding these plans, they will be more of a treasured part of the community. Also, we need to look at the County funding these plans as once they are complete, all of Buncombe County will reep the rewards. I would also consider a bond referendum to assist in the funding. I don’t believe that cuts need to be made, we must continue to prioritize which pieces should be completed and implemented first.
9. What is the most compelling reason to improve transportation options in Asheville? The most compelling reason to improve transportation in Asheville is our environment. If we can encourage people to take the bus, ride their bikes or walk to where they need to travel, then our environment will benefit with less pollution in the air. Asheville can be a leader in the fight against climate change by taking these steps to give people a greater opportunity to get around town without using their car. The secondary benefit is a healthier core of citizens. Research has proven that the more walkable a city is, the healthier its citizens are. Sadly, Asheville has a weak walkablity score of 50. We must work together to improve this in the very near future.
Having lived in Asheville for the past six years, I have grown to love this town because of its scenic wonder, its progressive politics, and its friendly and diverse community. Running has always been a passion of mine; now, I want to help run this town. I have run nearly 100 races, including three marathons, and owe my success in that department to the support I have gotten from Asheville’s many runners, walkers, and hikers. This passion led me to found Asheville Front Runners, an LGBT running/walking group.
While running is my passion, my two children, ages 9 and 7, are my inspiration. It is because of my two daughters that I want to run for City Council, to make this a city where children will have alternatives to sedentary activities, a city with safe streets–with sidewalks–and safe parks. We owe it to the next generation to instill good habits with regard to physical exercise, just as we owe our children a good education, proper nutrition, and health care. Children need green spaces in order to grow and thrive–and it doesn’t hurt grown-ups either.
In addition to being a runner, a father, and an environmentalist, I am an LGBT activist. I have been part of a few demonstrations. I will continue to fight for what is right: equality for all. The struggle for LGBT equality has strong ties to the women’s movement, the civil rights movement, and the immigrants’ rights movement. In sum, it is a seamless continuation of American history, a country born from a desire to be free.I urge you to support me in my efforts to protect our environment and to enrich the lives of all Ashevillians. I urge you to help me run this town.
Here are my responses to the
WNC For Change Questionnaire
1. What do you think the Asheville Police Department should do to improve community policing that would enhance the safety of communities vulnerable to hate crimes (including race, gender and sexual orientation)?
I would see to it that the LGBT antibullying ordinance, currently in the City Attorney’s office, is enforced. The city needs to require more appropriate and meaningful sensitivity training for the APD in dealing with issues of race, gender, ethnicity, and religion, as well as issues of the LGBT community. Also, the APD should have more visibility in high risk areas with more foot and bike patrols.
2. Would you support eliminating automobile traffic from one of Asheville’s major downtown streets and converting this street into a pedestrian mall (similar to the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, CO)?
I would absolutely support a pedestrian mall in the downtown area. As a city we need to do more to encourage people to drive less. This starts with a better infrastructure, including quality sidewalks, bike lanes and increased bus ridership. A more efficient transit system, such as was laid out in the transit master plan, will make our buses more appealing. We already have many parking garages around town; by taking appropriate measures to make sure businesses can have goods delivered on a schedule and by making sure there are no obstacles to people with mobility issues, I believe a pedestrian mall is feasible.
3. If elected, what are the three most important things you want to accomplish during your four year term on City Council?
1. I want to make sure that the antibullying ordinance that was adopted last February is on the books and being enforced as soon as possible. Also, I will stand up for the rights of the underrepresented in order to promote a diverse and equal Asheville.
2. I want to improve Asheville’s infrastructure to make the city more walkable. This includes maintaining existing sidewalks, building new ones, and building more bike lanes, along with creating safe crosswalks with working crosswalk signs. This will increase bike, foot, and bus travel and make our town more attractive to businesses and entrepreneurs wanting to start up in our town, bringing the most critical need to Asheville: jobs.
3. I will listen to Asheville’s communities and protect our steep slopes from unbridled development. We do need business development, but it must be smart and responsible development, respecting the will of the people, not just that of the business community. It is imperative we make smart decisions in this area. We have already seen the destruction of wooded areas in Montford due to a poorly planned Heath Adventure project and the proliferation of digital “bullyboards” despite public outcry for their removal.
4. Do you support President Obama’s initiative to build the foundation for a green energy economy, tackle the issue of climate change and protect our environment? Explain why or why not.
I support the initiative for a strong, green energy economy. It is the wave of the future, and we must encourage the growth of this industry in our city. We should be a leader in green industry development in the South and start attracting more ecobusinesses. Also, we must face the issue of climate change on a local level. We can do this by reducing the number of cars on the road and by making our town walkable, as well as accessible by bike and mass transit. This shows the importance of good sidewalks and bike lanes and plenty of them. We must do a better job of protecting the environment and the natural beauty of our steep slopes. Development on our slopes not only ruins the view but constitutes a safety hazard. The proposed steep slope project in Kenilworth will fill the winding mountain roads of the community with a projected 100 more cars a day. Kenilworth has narrow roads where it is difficult for two cars to pass. This is irresponsible and dangerous. We must work for sustainable and smart development that cares about our mountains and the people who live and visit here.