Edwards Looks To Become First Female Commission Chair - TribPapers

Edwards Looks To Become First Female Commission Chair

Amanda Edwards. Photo submitted

Buncombe County – Buncombe Commissioner Amanda Edwards looks to make history as she has filed to be the first woman elected as Chair of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners. Edwards recently filed for office at the county board of elections.

According to a press release, “growing up deep in the Appalachian Mountains shaped Amanda into a lifelong advocate for the citizens, our beautiful mountains, and our vital natural resources. Amanda is the Executive Director of the A-B Tech Foundation, which raises scholarship funds for community college students. Amanda is the past Executive Director of the Western North Carolina Chapter of the American Red Cross.”

Amanda, a longtime Democrat, has been twice elected to the county commission. She currently represents District 3 and has led on policy to make Buncombe County more livable and affordable for locals and more resilient to climate change, pandemics, and economic downturns.

Edwards is endorsed by fellow Democrat Commissioners Al Whitesides and Parker Sloan, and current Chair of the Board of Commissioners Brownie Newman, who is not seeking re-election.

“I’m known for my inclusive, accountable, transparent leadership and for bringing people together in our community,” Amanda stated. “As Chair, I’ll draw on my lived experiences and my career in human services and education to strive for common ground and to deliver real solutions efficiently and respectfully. Kitchen table issues are my issues.”

Edward won the 2022 and 2018 general elections by wide margins and defeated multiple candidates in the 2018 Democratic Primary. Amanda has lived and worked in Buncombe County for more than 25 years.

She has served the community and has been on the commission for early childhood through adult education since she worked as the executive director of the Literacy Council of Buncombe County. She is also a proven leader in creating an economy that supports locals, funding emergency services, and conserving farms and forests for future generations.

“As Commissioner and throughout my life, I’ve worked hand-in-hand with our community to reimagine and meaningfully improve how we respond to people who are in need, who are chronically underserved, and who are marginalized,” she stated.

“We’ve had successes, and yet there is more to do. We have hard-working people who aren’t finding good-paying career-track jobs, who are struggling to afford rent or mortgages, and who are simultaneously caring for their children, parents, and neighbors,” Amanda said. “These kitchen table issues are my issues. I’m here, especially for people who are feeling walked over and pushed out.”

Edwards was at the forefront of championing the Community Paramedicine Program, advocating its inception and subsequent expansion. This initiative dispatches adept medical professionals to tackle a spectrum of emergencies, spanning medical and behavioral health crises, including opioid overdoses and mental health incidents. Her push for bolstering Emergency Medical Services (EMS) staffing and consolidating 911 centers aimed to enhance overall efficiency. Drawing from her substantial experience at the regional American Red Cross, Amanda facilitated coordination among local and federal entities, primarily focusing on disaster relief efforts.

Her tenure as Commissioner boasts a robust portfolio of initiatives. Amanda ardently advocated for the preservation of farmlands and wilderness, supported the county’s legal pursuit against opioid manufacturers, and set in motion plans to develop 2,000 new affordable homes by 2030. Furthermore, her advocacy for solar installations on county government buildings heralds substantial savings in taxpayer money and a marked reduction in carbon emissions.

Her environmental stewardship echoes in her resolute backing of a fiscally prudent strategy to achieve 100% renewable energy for county operations by 2030 and the entire community by 2042, which would substantially change the means by which residents travel, heat, and cool their homes and other aspects of their lives. Amanda played a pivotal role in endorsing the non-discrimination ordinance, amplifying transparency, and restructuring the county’s nonprofit funding process, a crucial avenue also utilized for Recovery Act funding.

Amanda Edwards is a staunch union supporter, having joined her mother on the picket line during a teacher’s strike as a child. She also publicly shared her personal experience of surviving a school shooting at the age of 16 and is an advocate for gun control through her support for the MOMS Demand Action WNC chapter. In 2018, Edwards launched her first campaign, focusing on increasing transparency, preventing fraud and nepotism, and establishing employee conflict of interest rules following the arrests of former County Manager Wanda Greene and her son. Edwards is married to Derek Edwards, an educator, and they reside in Weaverville with their teenage son, along with their dog and cat. Amanda is an enthusiastic cyclist and hiker.