Well, that was... wow.
I am truly honored and humbled by the support that pushed me through the primary, more than 800 votes ahead of my 2015 result. Volunteers worked polls before sunrise and through the muggy October day as record droves turned out for a city primary. At the end of it all, I was in fifth place, ahead of a record fund-raiser, a council incumbent, and a half-dozen other dedicated and qualified candidates. If there is one message coming loud and clear this election, it's that grassroots beats money in city elections, and we're all better off for it.
Now the real work begins. The city general is only 27 days away. The gap between the 3rd place finisher and my result is only 432 votes. I've been in this position before. Worse, in fact. In the 2015 primary, a first-time candidate with little name recognition, I squeaked through in 6th place, 545 votes behind the Top 3. Then, as now, a slate closed ranks against me, tying up donations and endorsements. But by the general four weeks later, I had passed an incumbent vice-mayor and his running-mate to land in the 4th spot. From my current position to a seat on council, it's actually shorter haul now than in 2015.
Make no mistake: the work will be hard. There is little time and, due to the high primary turnout, few new votes to unearth. Mailers need to go out this week to reach voters in time, while canvasses, phone banks and events have to be crammed into a packed schedule of debates and forums. It's the last mile of a marathon, but one I have run before. You know me: I'll go the distance every time.
What kind of help can I use?
- Contributions. Flatly put, if you have been holding off on donating, I could use your support now. Printing and postage has a high price tag in the thousands of dollars. Help us reach more people as soon as possible with a contribution at http://richworksfor.me/donate
- Write a letter to the paper today. Letters have a long lead time. If you want to share your perspective before early voting begins again, submit one now. Citizen-Times and Mountain Xpress forms here and here.
- Talk to neighbors. Grassroots, one-on-one contact had a bigger effect on the result than any other factor. Volunteer to phone bank at Democratic HQ Thursdays, any time 10:00 am to 8:00 pm. Email manager Lindsay at email@example.com to host a get-together any weekday in October. Help with solo or group canvassing: sign up at www.richworksfor.me/join
Most of all, keep your spirits and enthusiasm up. We've been here before. Candidates in this position post-primary have finished in the Top 3 in two out of the last three elections. I've been here before, and with fewer advantages, came within a hair's breadth. We can do it.
What kind of experience are you looking for in city leadership? We've got four weeks to let people know there's an important city election and what the candidates stand for. Here's mine: I've been neighborhood advocate, pushing improvements through the system, for years. I'm a fiduciary and transportation commission member. I think that's sort of important. Don't you?
First, thank you for the trust so many of you placed in me during the last city election. Yes, it was disappointing to come in first runner-up at the end of a bruising race, but I went to bed on election night sunburned and elated, proud to have run the hardest-working campaign of the season. The next morning I applied for every open city board and commission seat at the time. Things have been nonstop ever since.
So we've arrived in 2017 with many of the issues we talked about last time still unresolved. The city still struggles to be an affordable and sustaining home to many. The character of the community is more threatened than ever by traffic, a weak job market, adverse legislation and the impacts of being a highly-commodified tourism economy. We have more hotels opening than ever, but fewer affordable places to live. And despite passing massive bonds in 2016 to pay for parks, roads and affordable housing, city government hasn't yet figured how to balance old needs with new ones, the steady creep of gentrification against the needs of locals, the 90,000-and-counting conflicting ideas of what Asheville is supposed to be.
But I have hope. It's clearer than ever that the root thing that makes this "Asheville" to all of us is the feeling of a genuine, diverse, working, small town. A place whose natives and newcomers, Baptists and tattoo artists live cheek-by-jowl and pull together for the community. A place that's easy to get around. A place that preserves its buildings and history. A place that lets others live and do as they like, that encourages them, even. A city for locals. A place that holds itself out as a bastion of tolerance and commonsense old mountain progressivism. A place that feels beautiful and authentic.
I believe we can hold onto all that even if our population balloons past 100,000 (as expected in the next decade) or 200,000. The core character can be saved. But it's going to take work: local government that's daring, knowledgeable and committed, with the public always pushing it to try harder. I have a few thoughts about how it can happen. I'm sure you have some I haven't heard yet. If you have an idea or want to be part of this effort, please contact me using the link below and get involved. I'll work with anyone, always have.
I'm ready to work,
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