Asheville Citizen-Times: What to know about Asheville council candidates: Find out where they stand on top issues (18 April 2022)
Andrew Fletcher, musician, activist and LaZoom tour guide:
We need to recognize the failures that got us here if we’re going to make meaningful progress. Economic policy failures that push people down instead of lifting them up, and failures of a broken social safety net with far too many holes. Three principles need to guide the City’s response: First, keep folks at risk of losing their housing in their homes and create affordable housing options for everyone at every income level. Second, ensure that individuals who become homeless have safe and adequate shelter so that needed services can reach them. Third, connect them to permanent housing as quickly as possible.
I have been hearing our leaders talk about the housing crisis for over a decade. As a person who rents, the crisis is not an abstraction to me; it’s something I think about at the end of every month. I haven’t talked to anyone who thinks the current approach is working, and the Bowen Report shows this is more than just stories — it’s data. It’s clear private developers would rather build vacation homes, not housing for locals. It’s time for the city to step up with new partners to make sure development puts the needs of Asheville’s workforce at the forefront.
We need to honor this historic process by supporting the Community Reparations Commission. They have important work to do and we need to hear from them without interference from Council or candidates. The ongoing legacy of Asheville is one of a multitude of sins committed against our Black neighbors. They are many and varied, but we know they involve the taking of land, the denial of opportunity, and the deprivation of safety and dignity. These are sins that have to be addressed, and the Equity and Inclusion Office must take a leading role in decision making outside the Reparations process as well.
My view is that the entire mission of our City government is to provide public safety. Filling a pothole is public safety, adding a speed bump is public safety, having working streetlights, safe roads and wide sidewalks are all positive investments in public safety. A good public school system and equitable economic opportunities are known to increase public safety. We can’t continue to treat policing as the only solution. In addition, social workers and community paramedics have a lot to offer, and we haven’t supported them enough. Our budget has to be a statement of our values.