O'Connell Attempts Run For Seat As Unaffiliated Candidate - TribPapers

O’Connell Attempts Run For Seat As Unaffiliated Candidate

Bruce O'Connell. Photo submitted

Buncombe County – A second unaffiliated candidate has emerged in Buncombe County. Would-be politician and businessman Bruce O’Connell is back for another run for a political seat, although a much harder attempt, as he is running as an unaffiliated candidate for the District 2 Buncombe County Commissioner seat.

O’Connell joins former Democrat and former Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan in a run for a seat on the county commissioners board as unaffiliated candidates, with Duncan running for the chairman.

Readers may remember O’Connell from a couple of years back when he ran as a Republican candidate for the 11th Congressional District. O’Connell came in fifth out of a field of eight primary candidates. You also might remember him as the operator of the Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

About 10 years ago, O’Connell defied the Obama administration during a government shutdown and kept his restaurant open, leading to the entrances to the inn being blocked by armed parkway rangers.

Asked about why this time he’s running as an unaffiliated candidate, O’Connell said, “I am running as a UA because I feel that though I lean heavily conservative, I cannot go 100% in with every single plank that the Republicans stand for. The idea that I must “tow the party line” (for either party) does not allow me to speak my mind. I choose to be an independent, conservative-thinking patriot who wants to participate in the political process and help redirect local governance. It is apparent that I am not alone, as UA voters make up the largest voting block in our county. The hurdle is getting an unaffiliated [candidate] on the November ballot.”

O’Connell is running against incumbent Democrat Commissioner Terri Wells, who is also running for re-election. The district covers Candler, Sandy Mush, Leicester, Alexander, New Found, Weaverville, Flat Creek, Jupiter, Barnardsville, Reems Creek, Ox Creek, Swannanoa, and Woodfin.

Having managed the Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway since his arrival in Western North Carolina in 1979, O’Connell says he has established a track record of effective leadership. As a candidate for County Commissioner, Bruce promises to introduce practical, independent thinking to the office. Not aligning himself with any major political party, Bruce has also made the choice to relinquish party allegiance, opting instead to pledge his loyalty to the flag of the United States and to all the residents of Buncombe County.

O’Connell says he shares residents’ concerns about critical issues such as the environment, the surge in crime, the escalating cost of living, and the preservation of the quality of life that residents cherish. Recognizing Buncombe County as akin to a sizable business entity, He emphasizes the necessity of a commissioner with a business background to adeptly handle infrastructure, payroll, capital projects, and ongoing maintenance. He says his extensive experience positions him as the ideal candidate to bring practical business understanding to the commission, ensuring effective management and addressing the pressing issues that matter most to the community.

O’Connell has until March 4th to come up with the 2800 signatures he needs. Anyone interested in learning more about O’Connell or signing his petition can go to: www.bruceoconnell.com