North Buncombe – In December, fresh faces join both the Weaverville Town Council and the Woodfin Board of Commissioners as the November elections reshaped the boards.
In Weaverville, Michele Wood and Catherine Cordell join the board along with re-elected Councilman Doug Jackson. The board also increased its number of council members from five to six. Additionally, the mayor now has the right to vote on all matters presented before the town council as the town charter, changed back in February, goes into effect.
“A record 30 percent of registered Weaverville voters came out to vote in this election! I am encouraged that so many of you made your voices heard and gave me this vote of confidence,” said newcomer to the board, Wood. “One important matter coming up before Council in the next few weeks is Phase 2 of the Community Center project. The town is currently seeking public input on outdoor recreational amenities, and you all are invited to attend the Council Workshop on November 16 at 6 pm at Town Hall.”
She went on to say, “Another important issue is the expansion of the water treatment plant. This is a major project and will need to be considered carefully. Again, I sincerely appreciate your support and I’m excited about this opportunity to work alongside Mayor Fitzsimmons, newly-elected Catherine Cordell, and the rest of town council to make smart and thoughtful decisions for Weaverville.”
Cordell, the other newcomer, told the Tribune, “I would like to say thank you to all Weaverville residents who came out to vote. This was our best turnout in years. I am happy and excited to become your new council member.”
She went on to say, “My number one priority will be to review all capacity and usage numbers for the water treatment plant expansion project. I want to see the average daily usage numbers, add future commitments and estimated growth so I can know where we will stand in five years. This will allow me to make an informed decision about the timing of the project.”
Jackson, the reelected council member, did not respond to a request for comment.
Woodfin voters turn out incumbents.
In what can only be called a protest of the status quo, Woodfin voters turned out the incumbents on the board in exchange for three fresh faces, Hazel Thornton, Jim McAllister and Eric Edgerton.
“We ran an excellent campaign, and I want to thank all our volunteers who went above and beyond with their support. Our message of Smart Growth and open government struck a chord with Woodfin residents, and I’m honored that so many people turned out to vote for us,” said Thornton. “Changing gears now, I’m definitely looking forward to the changes ahead: adopting steep slope building protocols that will protect our forests and waterways is a top priority. We’ll be studying what can be done to mitigate past land zoning missteps. And of course, we’ll educate ourselves as quickly as we can on what is currently in front of the board from a budgeting and comprehensive plan standpoint, so we can get up to speed and hit the ground running.”
“The turnout sent a clear message that the residents of Woodfin want change,” McAllister told the Tribune. “They want to be listened to and included in the process of making decisions about zoning and development. As I went door-to-door, so many folks told me that they felt the town government had been in office too long and that just the looks of Weaverville Road and other town streets were embarrassing: junked cars, abandoned houses, piles of trash that would prevent fire trucks from passing, that sort of thing.”
He went on to say, “My top priority is to bring transparency – going to the people asking for input. Tied with that priority is helping to get our Comprehensive Plan fleshed out and a Steep Slope Ordinance in place to protect hillsides and ridgetops from being destroyed. People want the Commission to fix zoning issues and get ahead of the developers that are discovering our town. I met so many young people who asked, ‘how can I get involved’ that it has me excited for the future of Woodfin!”
Edgerton did not respond to a request for comment.