Asheville City Council Candidate Q&A: Andy Ledford
Editor's note: BPR's candidate questionnaire was created after asking community members to share their questions and what issues matter most to them and their communities. 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 email@example.com or record a voice mail at 828-253-6700.
Andy Ledford Bio:
I was born and raised in Asheville, upon graduation from T.C. Roberson in 1992, I headed off to the US Navy. I trained as a radar technician and was deployed overseas for three years. I came back home to Asheville in 1998 and I became employed in the telecommunications field. After losing my job in the 2002 dot com bust, I made the most of that time, enrolling at AB Tech, and then pursuing careers in local manufacturing and field service. I went on to obtain my bachelor’s in business management and I now work as an engineer. As an engineer, I have experience in fixing problems, minimizing waste, and improving processes.
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1. If elected, what is your top priority as an Asheville City Council member and what steps would you take to achieve that goal?
For real efficiency we need to trim down the budget, get rid of departmental overlap, and NOT increase property taxes. Just because Asheville has not increased taxes per se, everyone's taxes/services have still increased, so if you are paying more in 2022 than you did in 2017, your taxes went up. This plan can free up revenue to increase incentives for our city workers to bring staffing back up to budgeted levels.
2. 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?
The city cannot handle the increased population without more housing. It is not going to be easy, and it will have to happen in someone's backyard, but we will have to increase the housing density to achieve more supply. We need to find and assist people who want help what is available in the community where they can receive it. There is always going to be an element that doesn’t want help, and it think it’s important to focus on the people that are looking for help.
3. As a City Council member, what is your role in building an equitable and diverse community in Asheville?
If someone has been historically discriminated against, lending a helping hand and providing resources to that group or person would be a good thing and helps establish a fair start. The problem with the concept of equality of outcome occurs with the idea of government having the explicit goal of making sure everyone ends up at the same place. This is because in order to accomplish this, the government will inevitably end up suppressing the success and abilities of some in order to ensure this “equity.” Realistically, this is a larger issue that local governments have little control over.
4. How should the City fund reparations efforts?
I think reparations is a very divisive term to use. Some people hear that and shut down the conversation. It’s more about compensating citizens and neighborhoods that were affected negatively by urban renewal. I don’t think you can throw money at a problem and make it go away, so it would have to be a transparent process showing where the money is sourced from, and who or what it is going to.
5. What role should the City play in helping residents respond to extreme weather and climate change?
Having emergency action plans in place and coordinating with the county and other municipalities to implement them in case of an emergency.
6. What development priorities would best serve Asheville moving forward?
Provide incentives to revitalize existing unused properties. By rebuilding in places where there already is a building, we will reduce the amount of land cleared.
7. How do you respond to voters who feel the City is prioritizing tourism over investments in public services?
Tourism brings a huge amount of revenue to local businesses, but it shouldn't be all that the city relies on. Given our location, we could be a fantastic manufacturing and innovation center if we can attract the right businesses. If it was up to me, I would have 100% of TDA money spend on critical infrastructure improvements in the area, I don't think we need more marketing.
8. How will you approach policing and public safety in Asheville?
I believe the loss of trained personnel all over the city has had a snowball effect that had only gotten worse. Not enough police to enforce laws, long response times for emergencies, releasing people who have been arrested because the jail is understaffed. These factors have all contributed to the increased incidents all over town and should be the prime focus of the City Council.
9. What is your position on the proposal to restructure City boards and commissions?
I see that the current structure is unwieldy and there are some boards that are redundant, but I think that the public should be allowed input on how they are consolidated.
10. How do you plan to engage community members in the Council's decision-making process?
Follow N.C. Open Meeting Law with regards to all decisions and have regular meetings with citizens.