Asheville City Council Candidate Q&A: Allison Scott
Editor's note: BPR's candidate questionnaire was created in May after asking community members to share their questions and what issues matter most to them and their communities. This Fall, BPR offered candidates the opportunity to update their bios and respond to three additional questions. Those questions are identified with an *. The candidates' responses have not been edited or fact checked by BPR.
Share your questions and ideas for future elections coverage by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or record a voice mail at 828-253-6700.
Allison Scott Bio:
Lifetime local Allison Scott is a transgender woman who advocates for LGBTQ Southerners as the Director of Impact & Innovation for the Campaign for Southern Equality. Allison’s career has spanned working in the corporate world to serving her community as a community organizer and bridge builder who has coordinated with school systems, churches, businesses, news agencies, medical practices, and politicians regarding equality for LGBTQ people at the local, state, and national level. She has chaired our Citizens Police Advisory board and served on the boards of several nonprofits serving youth in Western North Carolina. Allison lives in the Montford neighborhood with her partner Daniel a math professor in the UNC system and 12 year old son who is a proud Asheville Middle School student.
Contact and campaign info:
If elected, what is your top priority as an Asheville City Council member and what steps would you take to achieve that goal?
Affordable Housing for All:
Increase available housing supply through multi-family zoning.
Community land trusts to ensure availability of permanently affordable housing.
Advocating for BIPOC led housing initiatives from the Reparations Fund.
Create rapid response paramedicine teams to address substances and mental health crisis.
Modernizing policing by focusing on innovative, diverse, de-escalation-based programs.
Transparent Local Government:
End off the record city council check in meetings.
Implement remote and call in meeting options for the public.
Quarterly community meetings where the council comes to neighborhoods.
Last Spring, BPR asked you about your priorities as an Asheville City Council member and what steps would you take to achieve those goals. What have you learned about these priorities during the campaign season?*
While my priorities haven't changed (Affordable Housing for All, Community Safety, and Transparent Local Government) it has become apparent that people in our community may seemingly be as divided as our country I've also seen that when talking to our community we agree on more than we may know. It doesn't mean we don't have a long way to go for working together to find solutions. Asheville isn't unique in our challenges and many of the solutions we are trying or want to try we can look to other parts of the country to see what may be working or not working. That's why I want us to learn from other cities and see what works or what doesn't so we are not experimenting with peoples lives and get closer to solving the issues. We know that many of these issues are systemic and can't be truly on the path to resolution unless Congress and the Senate also commits' to acknowledging our history as a nation and providing resources to address the issues. As a city and region we also have a long way to go to earn back trust in the community. Local government scandals are often on peoples minds when candidates talk solutions. People want controls and visibility to ensure funds are being spent for the stated goals.
The 2036 strategic plan calls for Asheville to be “a city with abundant housing choices for people at all economic levels and stages of life. Chronic homelessness is a thing of the past and rapid rehousing strategies abound thanks to an effective network of service providers.” What action is needed today to reach these outcomes?
Homelessness is a solvable issue, but it’s going to take real investment from our local government and community to solve it. I will support minimum wage initiatives that reflect the true cost of living in Asheville; I will champion creating city rapid response teams similar to Buncombe County paramedicine teams; I will collaborate with all local organizations (faith-based, nonprofit, etc.) along with the community residents to utilize our existing systems and facilitate partnerships for wraparound services to support our unhoused neighbors; and I will work to engage and educate our community around the issues that have led to this crisis.
As a City Council member, what is your role in building an equitable and diverse community in Asheville?
I believe it starts by electing diverse candidates such as myself. I would be the first transgender person elected to public office in North Carolina and that sends a message for our city and citizens. I have worked for over a decade across minority communities to build coalitions to create change. Bringing diverse groups of people to the table will always be my priority as an elected official.
How should the City fund reparations efforts?
Asheville’s legacy of redlining and urban renewal make reparations a necessary part of achieving racial justice. I was pleased to see the committee members selected recently and I believe the city should earmark in the budget continued funding for reparations. It is crucial that Black leadership continue to steer and control this process, with meaningful community input in the Commission’s recommendations. Addressing our legacy requires that we budget in to continue funding reparations.
What role should the City play in helping residents respond to extreme weather and climate change?
Increasing awareness of green energy programs for homes at the state and federal level. Funding city infrastructure improvements that meet more extreme weather events than we have faced in the past.
What development priorities would best serve Asheville moving forward?
Sustainability is key for the health of our community. We need to work to make Asheville a more livable city for locals with priority on housing and diversify our economy with jobs outside of Tourism.
How do you respond to voters who feel the City is prioritizing tourism over investments in public services?
Any industry left unchecked will become a problem. Tourism can be made sustainable by working with state legislators to reallocate funding from advertising to city programs and infrastructure. If state legislators are unwilling to change the current 75% funding statute of the TDA (Tourism Development Authority) then I will work with Buncombe County Commissioners to disband the TDA.
How will you approach policing and public safety in Asheville?
None of us should live in fear for our families and personal property. I recognize that some residents have concerns about community safety and often cite high levels of poverty, rise in substance abuse, and lack of social safety nets as contributors to those fears. As a City Council member, I will support the creation of city rapid response teams to care for people in substance abuse or mental health crises, like Buncombe County’s paramedicine teams, so that police personnel can be better utilized. Also, funding should be earmarked specifically for modernizing policing by focusing on innovative, standalone, de-escalation-based programs.
What is your position on the proposal to restructure City boards and commissions?
As someone who has served on city boards for years I believe they are invaluable and under utilized tool for our city. We do not need to hire consultants when we have local experts who are currently donating their time and energy to serve on boards and commissions. I believe we need to work to implement their recommendations before seeking outside input.
How do you plan to engage community members in the Council's decision-making process?
Transparency in local government is a top priority for me. All of our neighbors in Asheville should know about the process of local decision-making. As a City Council member, I will work towards ensuring city council meetings have in-person and virtual options, changing council check-in meetings to be publicly accessible via streaming and recording, improving timely responses to requests for public records, and engaging Asheville's community members through quarterly community meetings where the council comes to neighborhoods.
Is there a role City Council should play in countering misinformation and threats to democracy? If so, what?*
At a local level that often can be done with transparency and bringing people to the table much earlier before decisions are being made. No one wants to find out about a vote with something that affects them or their neighborhood the day of our worse the day after. Constantly reviewing our policies around what constitutes a threat and how do we handle it. So many times we don't rule something a threat unless it has a component of physical violence or our own human bias may downplay threats. I'm very proud of the steps taken by our Election Board to involve all who wish to take part in poll monitoring. By including everyone that wants to be involved we make our systems less prone to misinformation. Nothing counters these narratives more than having all kinds of people who have been involved as spokespersons in their communities.
Asheville City and Buncombe County filed a lawsuit against Mission Hospital alleging monopolization and inflating prices. What do you think are the most important steps City Council can take to improve healthcare in Western North Carolina?*
Funding mental health, substance abuse, early childhood healthcare for the most vulnerable populations would be a good start. Not only does this help many of the issues we are facing in our community but it can keep people out of lifelong healthcare situations. Beyond that working closely with the NC attorney general and state legislators in the future to ensure that our NC statutes are updated to reflect what we've learned from the HCA buyout of Mission. On paper many of the leaders at the state level have said this was legal but I think many of us know what is legal isn't always right. This should be a learning experience that shapes our laws and practices for the future. Local government should not let this go and make sure we get our state representatives to codify laws that will not let this happen again in NC.