Letters

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Asheville is at a key inflection point, as multiple critical issues are converging that will affect residents for years, maybe decades, to come. Now is the time to put the right people in office to ensure that future includes a thriving, sustainable and fair city that benefits all citizens, rather than only a select few.

As hotels are being erected left and right, catering to tourists and large corporate hoteliers who pay notoriously low wages with little or no benefits, and as our infrastructure deteriorates from overuse and underfunding, we desperately need to diversify our economy in ways that provide the most benefit to citizens across the socioeconomic spectrum.

We need someone on Council to advocate for citizens with a vested interest in creating a livable, workable community, not for developers with only a short-term interest in profit. Some Council members have had their chance, and they are not getting the job done.

So now that voters have picked the final six candidates to compete in the upcoming general election, it’s time to get serious about electing Rich Lee to City Council. Not only does Rich have a solid history of grassroots organizing at the neighborhood level here in West Asheville, as well as a background in finance, he also has a comprehensive understanding of the most pressing issues affecting this city.

Rich is exceptionally bright, fair-minded, genuine, and most importantly, he has integrity. Electing someone as honest, hardworking and knowledgeable as Rich would be a win for the city of Asheville — a win we desperately need right now.

- Tom, Mountain Xpress 10/18/15


With six strong candidates running for City Council, one might think choosing any three candidates will get the same result.

Over the past year or so I’ve attended meetings, read media reports and political blogs, and gone to candidate forums.

My first choice for Council is Rich Lee. Lee is not the most flamboyant of the candidates, but he has a quiet and deliberate intelligence that will serve the city well.

I don’t attend all the city board, agency and commission meetings, but at every meeting I do attend, Rich Lee is the only candidate who is always there. His input is thoughtful and productive.

I’m impressed at the breadth of his knowledge about how the city functions and how things get done. It is apparent that he loves Asheville and that involving and caring for the citizens are profoundly important to him. The election is on Nov. 3 (early voting begins on Oct. 22). Please vote for Rich Lee.

- Beth, Citizen-Times 10/21/15


We need Rich Lee’s patient and humble voice of reason on City Council. We need his vision, financial expertise, political independence and his steady pragmatism. We need passion for smart planning and livability, for consistency and clarity in government, whether permitting new entrepreneurs or standards for big development.

Asheville hovers on the brink of tremendous change. Our long-term resilience is at stake. As we prepare to weather storms in uncharted territory, we must continue to steer Asheville on a course of unique identity and fiscal strength.

Lee is rooted first and foremost in Asheville. He knows process and policy, has served on committees and boards, led citizen groups, canvassed and volunteered. He shows up and advocates for all of us, wherever people’s lives are impacted. He’s there both when conversations begin and as they reach the highest levels. Moreover, he educates and galvanizes others to act, constructively and positively, in our struggling — too often divisive — civic arena.

Fifteen years ago, Asheville had very few young families. How do we keep ones we have now invested in Asheville? How do we grow careers? Jobs that sustain a life, dignity and respect?

Lee has earned the trust and admiration of an impressively broad cross section of residents, business owners, nonprofit leaders, activists and public servants. His lifelong commitment to service, evidenced by years with his wife in the Peace Corps, advocacy for seniors and the elderly, smart growth and neighborhoods, economic and environmental justice, responsible industry and greenways, all speak very clearly of a personal investment and perspective we need now more than ever.

Bringing our seniors and young families together, rekindling a united stake in Asheville’s future across generations — a future that learns from its past — is the task we face. Rich Lee’s election to Council is nothing short of essential to help chart that course.

- Matt, Mountain Xpress 10/31/15


Rich Lee is concerned about helping others and committed to public service. He has the determination to follow through and actually make good things happen. He has an amazing memory for detail, which is really helpful when it comes to follow through.

Rich has applied these traits to advocate for various neighborhood issues, ranging from fewer trucks on Haywood Road to traffic calming on our streets. His contributions have made a positive difference and I predict he will do the same as a City Council member, if elected this fall.

- Lynn, Citizen-Times 5/21/15


I am glad to know that Rich Lee is running for City Council. This is what impresses me about Rich: First, he is smart and articulate. That’s important in leadership.

Second, he cares about every group in Asheville, including young folks just starting out, elders and the disabled, who need affordable housing and public transportation, two of the biggest issues in Asheville.

And third, he has a wide range of experience, from working in the Peace Corps to working for an investment firm. He knows a city like Asheville needs investors as well as workers, and wants to help Asheville be a thriving place for both.

- Jane, Citizen-Times 5/21/15


The first thing I noticed about Rich was his excellent ability to listen. There may not be a more important quality for an elected leader to possess. But as I listened to Rich, I found a person with an impressive understanding of city policy — past, present and future. Rich understands what it takes to craft policy and to move it forward, and his enthusiasm to serve the citizens of Asheville in this way was evident.

He talked about his work with East West Asheville Neighborhood Association, particularly his efforts to have the trucks from New Belgium Brewery rerouted from Haywood Road in West Asheville. He spoke of his work on the Greenway Commission, and how he’s worked with city staffers and city council to promote, expand and care for the city’s greenways. And he spoke of his love for this city and his eagerness to help make it a better place for all of us to live, work and play.

Rich Lee has volunteer experience, financial smarts, a strong grasp of city policy and a willingness to listen to the needs and hopes of the citizens of Asheville. I’m proud to cast my vote for Marc Hunt, Julie Mayfield and Rich Lee.

- Mike, Mountain Xpress 11/2/15


As Asheville faces unprecedented growth, and neighborhoods are increasingly impacted, we need a City Council that will be responsive to neighborhood concerns on issues ranging from development and sidewalks to traffic calming. In Kenilworth, it took 3 1/2 years for residents to challenge an inappropriate 100-unit development on a steep 30-percent to 45-percent slope!

Rich Lee is the only candidate I have seen who has regularly attended Coalition of Asheville Neighborhood (CAN) meetings. Through those interactions, CAN members have gotten to know a caring individual who is intent on creating better solutions to addressing our neighborhood concerns, such as helping to negotiate a better route for a new brewery’s rumbling trucks to thinking of new ways to create affordable housing.

After reading Rich’s open letter on why he supports the green space in front of the Basilica [of St. Lawrence], I believe that he has the financial savvy to help our city go forward without sacrificing our quality of life.

I base my support for Rich Lee on the fact that he is doing the homework needed to better understand the issues Asheville will be facing in the next four years, and I urge my neighbors to vote for him in the upcoming primaries and elections!

- Valerie, Mountain Xpress 10/3/15


 

I support Rich Lee for Asheville City Council because he supports a transparent government and data-driven decision making.

To build an Asheville that works for everyone, we need community builders and forward-thinking individuals to develop 21st-century solutions to issues like jobs, affordable housing and tourism.

I appreciate Rich Lee’s honesty and willingness to engage in constructive debate so often absent from political discussions.

Tourism provides benefits and challenges to Asheville, yet we lack a strategy for sustainable growth. Rich supports directing tourism-related taxes to local needs, rather than using these funds exclusively for marketing purposes.

Rich also understands that an economic development strategy for Asheville must focus on the development of small businesses invested in our community, rather than handouts to a few large corporations.

When I organized a community event on affordable housing, Rich showed up with positive ideas. Rich advocates for the increased availability of accessory dwelling units and homestays, while regulating short-term rentals with a common-sense approach that protects the fabric of our neighborhoods.

On each issue, Rich has worked to bring the community together and discuss the facts, a refreshing break from the safe talking points we often hear from political campaigns.

- Patrick, Mountain Xpress 11/2/15