Hi. My name is Jonathan Wainscott and I am running for Mayor of Asheville. Four years ago the Mayor’s seat was “open” when Mayor Terry Bellamy chose not to run for re-election. In 2013, three people stepped up to say, “I can do the job”. Now, after her first term as Mayor, Esther Manheimer faces opposition by 3 candidates who are saying, “I can do a better job”. I am one of those candidates.

Asheville is a unique place with many different issues that concern the public. The basic concerns of the citizens of Asheville revolve around affordability, safety, and inclusion of all us in the opportunities we have to grow as individuals and a community. Unfortunately, those concerns have been grossly neglected by our current Mayor who has handed over what little power the office of Mayor and the body of City Council has to the City Manager and his staff who now run the city with little oversite, an apathetic evaluation of their performance, and maintain a charade of public input. This must end.

It is the express purpose of City Council and the Mayor to direct City Staff to implement policies and practices that reflect the needs and desires of the citizens and to hold Staff accountable for its performance in that duty. Today, City Council and the Mayor serve as little more than a rubber stamp for Staff to implement the policies and practices that they deem worthy and effective. This is happening with a growing dissatisfaction for Asheville’s out-of-control growth amidst a crumbling infrastructure and an economy dependent on the unsustainable, fad-driven tourism industry.

As Mayor I will return what little power the office and council holds to being the dedicated watchdog that holds City Staff to task. From there I will work on transferring power to a system of governance that employs a “Strong-Mayor” form of governance. As it is, it’s the City Manager that “runs” the City, and the Mayor’s office is little more than a figurehead position which puts forth the illusion that the Mayor is in charge while behind a curtain of opacity, our affairs are carried out by the un-elected City Manager. This is not because I want to “run the city”. I don’t. I want to fill the position as it currently is as a step in the direction of having those that actually run the City to be the ones that are most directly held accountable by you- the citizen shareholders of the corporation that is the City of Asheville.

Once in office I will do whatever I can to:

  • Achieve full transparency of all the financial transactions by the City of Asheville by using and on-line “account statement” for our public funds. This will reduce corruption and negligence through crowd-sourced oversight of our finances. You, the tax-paying investor in our City will be able to review all of our receipts and payments, whenever you want.
  • Shift our economic development philosophy from efforts of promotion to accomplishments of attraction. Instead of City that is watching an exodus of school teachers, we will work toward making the Asheville City School System the premier public school system in the Southeast. We will develop an auxiliary police unit that is charged with serving the public by way of tending to matters of property crime and non-violent infractions with unarmed police officers so our engagement with law enforcement officers doesn’t automatically include lethal force. We will bring our necessary infrastructure up to typical standards, and if affordable, to higher upgrades befitting of a premium city. It’s this effort that will attract sustainable economic growth in Asheville.
  • Proactively establish district elections for our municipal governance to ensure fair representation of our citizenry. The only city in NC that is larger than Asheville and has an at-large city council is Wilmington and it is a failure. It’s time for us to use an electoral process appropriate for a city of our size.
  • Provide intense scrutiny of the performance of City Staff and remove those who are doing their jobs poorly.

I will serve the office of Mayor full-time and consider it my primary occupation. I offer true change to our civic leadership by demonstration of my own personal growth and change. I am ready to work for us. All of us. Thank you for your consideration-