I was up last night wrapping presents in a tangle of tape and tissue paper. In a few hours, Meg, Cal and I will get on the road to St. Louis to spend Christmas with Meg's family. If, that is, we can get packed, a project I have yet to start. I'm guessing you know the feeling...
This time of year can feel pretty harried. But the short days and long nights can also be a time for reflection and slowing down, a time to name our hopes for the future.
My hope is that our community will come together in new ways to make sure every kid in Buncombe County has a chance to thrive. Thriving starts with the basics - having a safe home, food on the table and in the cupboard, excellent schools, quality healthcare, the right to play in safe neighborhoods, and being treated with dignity and equality in every part of life.
Right now, here in Buncombe County, 1 in 4 kids lives in poverty. That’s a moral crisis.
As a community we have to build a safety net that is large enough and sturdy enough for all of us - and particularly for the littlest among us. There are incredible people, groups and agencies working to do just this, from teachers in our schools to non profits like Children First and Food Connection to Buncombe County staff working on child welfare issues to local foster families providing loving homes for kids.
And, we can be doing more - like guaranteeing universal pre-K across the county, more deeply engaging issues of racial equity in our schools and ensuring healthier neighborhoods that include sidewalks, parks and greenways.
These priorities are at the heart of my campaign for County Commission and, as we get ready for 2016, I look forward to working together to ensure that every child in Buncombe County has an equal opportunity to thrive.
What’s at stake in the I-26 connector project is the lifeblood of our community - our homes, neighborhoods, and businesses. This is the largest infrastructure project Western North Carolina will see for many decades. We need to get it right the first time because it will be very difficult and costly to stop and fix once started.
NC DOT must choose option 4B in order to minimize the negative impacts of this project on our community. Option 4B separates out traffic from Patton Avenue and makes it “local only” as it crosses the river and heads into downtown. This is one of the few benefits of the proposed connector project and will help connect neighborhoods via walking paths and bikes lanes. This option, more than others, avoids the mistakes and subsequent fall-out of past urban renewal projects.
Buncombe County citizens have clearly voiced their support for option 4B and I add my voice to theirs.
Next, I urge the NC DOT to select the “no build” option in Section A through West Asheville.The proposed 8 lanes through West Asheville are out of place in Asheville and threaten neighborhoods that need to be protected. This element of the project has been labeled a “boondoggle” by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund. The report states, “A large part of this massive project includes widening a highway that does not have enough use to justify the expansion, in the process destroying homes and businesses in a mature livable neighborhood.”
We must be cautious when approaching a project of this magnitude and we must plan for the future we actually want. Any decisions must be informed by the very real impacts this will have on our daily life, both during construction and once completed. NCDOT must listen and address the concerns of Buncombe County before proceeding in any way that could divide neighborhoods, frustrate our local economy, and endanger the wellbeing of Buncombe County families.
You can submit comments to the NC DOT about the I-26 connector project through December 16th. Send your comments by email to Drew Joyner at firstname.lastname@example.org or by snail mail to NCDOT Human Environment Section, 1598 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, North Carolina 27699.
Meg, Cal and I just left the Board of Elections office where I officially filed for the District 1 seat on Buncombe County Commission.
As a working mom, I get it - Buncombe County families are feeling the pressure of soaring housing costs and state budget cuts to schools. Our community deserves excellent schools, healthy neighborhoods and jobs that pay a living wage. I’m running to be a voice on County Commission for kids and families - in all the forms they take - and to ensure that we all have the opportunity for a better life. Our local government needs fresh perspectives and we need a County Commission that better reflects our community
The Democratic primary will take place on March 15, 2016, earlier than usual. That means this campaign season will be a sprint and also that I need your help starting now.
Meg, Cal and I would love for you to join us at our December 19th holiday open house, where you can learn more about my campaign - and eat cookies. RSVP on Facebook.