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Asheville City Council Voter Guide: Candidate Sage Turner

Courtesy of Sage Turner

Earlier this month, BPR asked the Asheville community one question: What do you want candidates to talk about as they compete for your vote? We received more than 300 suggestions from about 150 people in the Asheville area.

BPR sent six questions informed by the community responses to each City Council candidate. Here are candidate Sage Turner's responses.

  1. What is the biggest challenge facing Asheville in the realm of housing and what do you see as the best solution right now?

    Housing unaffordability, both rental and ownership, its short term impacts on health and wellness, and its longer, generational impacts on families and wealth building. 50% of residents cannot find places to live that they can afford. This impacts their day to day lives and choices.

    Creating affordable options is an uphill, difficult, but not impossible battle in our community. We make great strides, helping create over 1000 new affordable homes in recent years, but the demand for thousands more follows. With the population and popularity of Asheville growing rapidly, it is imperative we strategize where and how we will accommodate this growth.

    To protect our neighborhoods and quality of small city life, we will need to focus growth in our more urban zones to help protect our neighborhoods from the pressure. Think downtown, along arteries like Tunnel rd and Patton Ave. Think more apartments and condos and micro units. We also need to increase by right zoning in those areas, requiring needed transit stops, and adding multimodal everywhere it makes sense as we grow. To focus growth, we must focus policy.

    Neighborhoods are not off the hook; they need incremental growth like backyard cottages, triplexes, courtyards; with infrastructure improvements along the way. We need to focus on growth with impacts, outcomes, community strengths, and advancements as a society. 

  2. What role, if any, should a city council member play in addressing the impacts of climate change? Are there specific policies related to climate change that you would support?

    Climate impacts and environmental sustainability should be considered in all actions we take.

    Housing and transportation policy are at the center of environmental problems and the potential for change. It is the sheer movement of people and goods that threatens our world, climate, oceans, and ecosystems. The gist is - the more we spread out, the worse it gets. And we humans, we policy makers, and we residents are the stewards of this stunning area of the world; only we can make the changes needed to help inform better human behavior and protect our natural resources.

  3. Are there specific measures you would take in your first 100 days to make Asheville City government more efficient and responsive to the needs of the people? 

    Finalize long term infrastructure and facilities capital planning; including getting - and keeping - items like neighborhood pools, roads, parking decks, and water pipes in full working order.

    Finalize any new affordable housing and infrastructure bonds and begin laying the groundwork for rapid repairs and implementation.
    The City Manager contract ends or renews in 2025; we may see the search for our next city manager begin in early 2025.
    Continue advancing the recommendations of the NAEH National Alliance to End Homelessness, including changing up our role at the table and how we instate federal funds and pursue outcomes.
    Finalize the Missing Middle Study and Affordable Housing Plan, and move to policy and implementation mode.

  4. The Sheriff’s Office Downtown Initiative is a recent example of increased police presence as a solution for crime downtown. Do you believe this is an effective method for curbing crime? Why or why not?

    Yes. The presence of public safety and community responders is a deterrent to crime. They help residents and workers feel safer because help is nearby, and it helps those who may partake in criminal activity think twice, potentially changing their course. If done really well, community members in crisis can find assistance and preemptive aid in public safety officers and community responders.

  5. Who of the 8 candidates, other than yourself, is the strongest candidate for City Council and why?

    Undecided at this time.

  6. Asheville City Council has worked on a number of strategies to provide shelter and services for people experiencing homelessness. What strategies would you support as a council member?

    COA plays a significant role in receiving and granting annual funds to partner orgs that assist those experiencing housing crises. Currently, some of our partners are experiencing growing pains, struggling with leadership, growing expenses, and having financial issues; our existing partnerships need our attention. We have incredible staff working on these efforts, but we have capacity and funding issues. The community needs a professional, clinical, efficient, and compassionate approach to helping people get back on their feet. We need a large facility, with community wide reach, with the County and health orgs like Mission and Dogwood at the helm. The city should play a teammate role, as COA does not have the capacity that our larger partners have; we need them to help and inform and lead this process. The location should be near the hospital, not in neighborhoods, and recently sourced state funding the County will receive should support it.

Laura Hackett joined Blue Ridge Public Radio in June 2023. Originally from Florida, she moved to Asheville more than six years ago and in that time has worked as a writer, journalist, and content creator for organizations like AVLtoday, Mountain Xpress, and the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce. She has a degree in creative writing from Florida Southern College, and in 2023, she completed the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY's Product Immersion for Small Newsrooms program. In her free time, she loves exploring the city by bike, testing out new restaurants, and hanging out with her dog Iroh at French Broad River Park.