2015 TOWN OF
BOONE MUNICIPAL ELECTION
ELECTION DAY: NOVEMBER 3, 2015
LINKS: Click here
for a printable PDF "Pam's Picks" marked sample ballot for the
November 3rd elections. If you like, you can print it out and take it with
you into your polling place. Click here
for voting locations and hours.
Click here to read "My
Take on This Year's Election."
IMPORTANT CHANGES TO VOTING THIS YEAR
The North Carolina General Assembly and the Watauga County Board of
Elections continue to make significant changes to voting locations and
continue to reduce ballot access opportunities. The State Board of
Elections refused to site an early voting location on the Appalachian
State University campus again for this year's election and has reduced
early voting hours by almost 40%. These
changes are designed to suppress voting options for progressive voters
in hopes you will be too discouraged to cast a ballot.
Progressives cannot afford to become discouraged. The future of our
public schools, our air and water quality, our constitutional rights, our
voting rights and quality of life are at stake. We must fight back - hard
- against local and state voter discrimination efforts. We
do that by exercising our constitutional right to vote.
YOU DO NOT NEED AN ID TO
VOTE in this year's election although you may be asked if you have one.
Thanks to recent court actions, this year you CAN
register to vote and vote on the same day during the early voting period
but you CANNOT
register to vote and vote on election day. You
can also vote "out of precinct"
on election day this year. If you have moved from the address at
which you are currently registered to vote, this means you can go to any
other Town precinct (Legends for example) on election
day and vote a provisional ballot (be
sure to ask for it) even if your election day precinct is
are your options for casting a ballot in this year's municipal
#1): VOTE BEFORE ELECTION DAY:
If you live in the Town of Boone but are not registered to vote, you can register
and vote at the same time during
the early voting period (not on Election Day). All registered
town of Boone voters can vote at the ONLY
EARLY VOTING SITE AVAILABLE FOR THE UPCOMING ELECTION: the
Administration Building (beside the downtown courthouse), across
from Mellow Mushroom. It will be open for voting:
Thursday, October 22 and Friday, October 23:
Monday, October 26 through Friday, October 30: 8AM–5PM
Saturday, October 31: 8AM–5PM
#2): VOTE ON ELECTION DAY:
You can vote at your regular election day precinct on election day. The
election day precincts are listed here.
If you are you are a registered voter who has moved from one precinct to
another, you should vote during the early voting period in order to update
your address and cast your ballot at the same time. If you do not know the
location of your new precinct, call the Watauga County Board of Elections
year you also have the right to vote in a
precinct other than the one where you reside if
you say the magic words, "I want a provisional ballot." Don't let
any poll worker tell you otherwise. In fact, the precinct judges are
required to tell you if you are in the wrong precinct that you have three
options: (1) Go to your correct precinct to vote, OR (2) go to the
transfer precinct to vote (the Courthouse downtown), OR (3) cast a
#3): REQUEST THAT AN ABSENTEE BALLOT BE MAILED TO YOUR HOME:
print out and fill out the Absentee Ballot Request form and mail it to:
Watauga County Board of Elections • PO Box 528 • Boone, NC 28607
OR print out and fill out the
Absentee Ballot Request form, sign it, scan it, and email it to Donna.Houck@watgov.org
Once you receive your absentee ballot, you will need two witnesses (or one
notary) to sign it before you return it to the Board of Elections. Your
witnesses do not
have to be registered voters. Witnesses must be at least 18 years of age
and can be family members. Witnesses do not have to be residents of
Watauga County. Candidates for the election CANNOT be witnesses to your
Ballot. It will cost you 98 cents (two "forever" stamps) to return
Election Day Polling Location Changes:
New River 3
Precinct Voters: Your election day polling location is located at
Mt. Vernon Baptist Church: 3505 Bamboo Road. Click here
for directions. There is no public transportation to the site.
Precinct Voters: On Election Day you vote at the Agricultural
Conference Center on Poplar Grove Road. Boone
3 precinct voters should vote before Election Day at the Administration
Building in Downtown Boone or by "provisional ballot" at Legends on
Precinct Voters: On election day, you vote at the ASU Legends
NOVEMBER 3TH BALLOT (how I will cast my ballot):
for a printable PDF "Pam's Picks" marked sample ballot. If you like, you
can take it with you into your polling place. You
are NOT allowed to use your cell phone or any other electronic device
inside the voting enclosure.
Disclaimer: What is Pam's Picks?
“Pam’s Picks” is simply one person’s opinion
about the 2015 Town of Boone municipal elections. I am a progressive
Boone resident and have long held interest in local politics and issues.
Pam's Picks endorsements may or may not reflect endorsements of a
political party, but Pam's Picks is not associated with any political
in Pam's Picks?
General voting information
(when, where, and how) and information on candidates whose names will
appear on your November 3rd Town of Boone municipal elections ballot. Tthe
candidates are presented in the order they will appear on your ballot.
I have researched candidate campaign platforms and records where
available. Information for my candidate discussions comes from individual
candidate information, candidate voting records, press reports,
non-partisan and partisan analysis, and other sources. I have also
supplied candidate web site references and/or Facebook links where
available. The majority of my candidate information comes from responses
to a questionnaire I sent to all of the
candidates. Even though Town of Boone municipal elections are
non-partisan, I have provided the candidates' party affiliations. For
additional information, you can follow the provided links or contact
candidates directly with your questions.
Picks does not endorse candidates who do not respond to the
to The Information On This Site:
Click here for the
Pam's Picks disclaimer.
Click here for IMPORTANT INFORMATION
about voting changes for this year's election.
Click here for
recommendations on how to best cast your ballot this year.
Click here for
recommendations on Voting Information (who can vote this ballot and early
voting locations and hours).
Click here for your Election Day
Click here for "My Take On This Year's
Click here for a full discussion of my endorsement
for Town of Boone Mayor.
Click here for a full discussion of my endorsement
for Town Council.
Click here for a full discussion of my
endorsement for Town Council Unexpired Term.
DAY PRECINCT LOCATIONS
All registered voters who reside in the Town
of Boone are eligible to vote this ballot. This includes ASU students who
live in dormitories on campus as well as those who live in off-campus
housing within the Town of Boone.
Day Precinct Locations: Polls
are open on Election Day, November 3rd, from 6:30AM-7:30PM.
Blue Ridge: Laurel Fork Baptist Church
Boone 1: Watauga County Administration Building, beside the Courthouse
Boone 2: ASU Legends
Boone 3: Agricultural Conference Center on Poplar Grove Road
Brushy Fork: Oak Grove Baptist Church
New River 1: Boone Town Hall on Blowing Rock Road
New River 2: Three Forks Baptist Association
New River 3: Mt Vernon Baptist Church on Bamboo Road
North Fork: Edgar Eller's Garage
Need More Information?:
Call the Watauga County Board of Elections at 265-8061.
TAKE ON WHAT'S AT STAKE IN THIS ELECTION:
Like every other year before this one, candidates talk the same platform:
protect single family neighborhoods, "smart" growth, sustainability,
walkability, support for small business, and a commitment to a "progressive"
agenda. And indeed some of those words are followed up with good
action: greenway development, sidewalks, bike lanes, appearance standards,
etc. But not only is the Council not
meeting some of the most important progressive goals they have promised,
they are instead actively defeating them.
• How can the Council on one hand commission and acknowledge a housing study
that finds we are over-saturated with high-density student housing and then
turn around and vote in favor of the same high-density student housing of a
size never before seen in Boone (e.g.,
Scottish Inn, Southern States property, and the enormous project at
• The Council leans on its 2030
vision plan to advocate for higher density development. While the 2030
plan lays out a beautifully illustrated argument for higher density, what we
are currently building doesn't much look like the pictures and is not
achieving the plan's promise of higher density with "a
small town feel" and more green space in exchange for that higher
density. Instead we are getting mega-sized student housing complexes (which
isn't even fair to students who continue to pay exorbitant rent prices).
It's not fair to small businesses either because while the town's ordinances
require that the bottom level of these buildings be reserved for small
businesses and professional offices, the town has been allowing developers
to reduce that space requirement.
• Allowing high-density housing developments to build without requiring
sufficient parking spaces for residents clearly isn't working. Yet the
Council asks us not to worry, that everyone is going to finally get some
exercise, be forced to walk instead of drive, and that everything is
actually working according to a bigger vision and, besides, no-minimum
parking standards complies with our ordinance. Meanwhile everyone (including
our council members) is driving to work, to doctors' appointments,
to a dinner out, and to meetings.
• Every time something becomes obviously screwed up (like
Zaxby's), the Council decides to put pen to paper to look for ways to
"tweak" development regulations, even though the problem is actually the
result of the Board of Adjustments' vote to give the development a
pass on complying with the town's development regulations in the first
place. The traffic issues related to the Zaxby project were
certainly predictable because the approved proposal included using a street
which was not wide enough for two-way traffic, which the adjacent
neighborhood insisted would be a problem, and which even Zaxby's traffic
engineer conceded was a problem.
• The Town proclaims it is protecting traditional neighborhoods by pointing
to development regulations like requiring the terraces on high rise
apartment buildings to face away from low density neighborhoods instead of
prohibiting developments where they don't belong in the first place.
• In response to a perverted reading of the Town's 2030 "what-do-we-want-to-look-like-in-the-future"
Plan, and to a Board of Adjustments' request to please revise the
town's ordinances because they are having to approve too many variances to
accommodate developers who say the requirements are a "hardship," the
Council is now considering a new "PUD" planned unit development initiative
that will render the Town's UDO regulations and zoning districts defunct
because it essentially does away altogether with the very regulations the
Council has promised to enforce.
other words, talk is cheap.
the Council continues to insist we have the tools to say "no" to unneeded
and undesirable developments and yet continues to approve unneeded and
undesirable developments. In fact, they have turned down virtually no high
density projects at all, instead borrowing from future water allocations to
accommodate those projects while at the same time crying that we are in
danger of running out of water. To say all is well because what is happening
in Boone is somehow consistent with adopted plans is the tail wagging the
dog, and to hide behind these plans is an abdication.
more of the same? Then encourage a lot more of the development we
are currently seeing in Boone by giving high-density developers more
Let me take
you down the drainhole....
In the beginning, the Town convinced all of us, including me, that the
Town was running out of water and needed to seek additional water
resources for BOONE'S future growth. That's when the water intake
project was born. But somewhere along the way, and behind closed doors, the
Town decided to expand the intake project to include 1 million gallons per
day of water for "unallocated reserve."
There are, the best I can tell, two possible reasons for this unexplained
expansion: (1) the Town cut some deal with the County to give them a bunch
of water, again behind closed doors, to get them onboard with the intake
project, and/or (2) the Town needed to include an additional 1 million
gallons in order to qualify for the USDA loan it was seeking to finance the
project. But of course that's just a guess.
Over the last few years, the then-County attorney, at my request, provided
updates to the Town's Water Committee (on which I serve) of Raleigh
legislative actions and state Court cases that could affect the Town's plans
for the intake. The writing on the wall became clear: the
state was going to eliminate Boone's ability to regulate developments in
its ETJ, the state was going to
confiscate the Town's water intake once it was completed, the
state was going to place the water intake that the people of Boone had
built under a regional water authority without financial compensation
and without public consent, and the
courts were warning that towns did not have the authority to swap
water for compliance with land-use regulations anymore.
In spite of all these cold water slaps to the face, the majority of the
Council brushed off the few water committee members who warned that we
needed to back up and re-evaluate. And even as current signs suggest our
warnings were accurate, the Council continues to plow forward because, well,
ignorance is bliss.
here's where we are now.
The Town Council is being led by the nose by a
new Town Manager who is working overtime not to let the death of an intake
project end up as any kind of evidence of a personal failure on his part,
and under direction from a new attorney who is clearly in
over her head, on more than one level,
and who also happens to be a
licensed real estate broker and general contractor.
So instead of sensibly tabling the project for re-evaluation and
developing a plan of action in response to reality, the Town Council has
instead astonishingly decided to speed up the intake project, primarily
because opposition to it is growing and because the Council feels the need
to get themselves to higher ground before their constituents figure out
what's going on and that they're on the financial hook for a project that
has spiraled out of control. They've figured their best bet is to put on a
happy face that we're almost there, regardless of where "there" leads us
and regardless of what getting "there" will cost us.
here's how we got there and what getting there means:
• This September the Town signed a contract with
Watauga County to reserve 500,000 gallons of water per day for the
county's use, to be made available to the county after the intake is
completed. The water can be granted to any county property regardless of
whether it is in or out of the Town's zoning jurisdiction. Sadly, in an
effort to avoid public discussion of the easement terms, the Council
attempted to approve it, as it had a previous easement
agreement with the County, in a consent agenda.
• The contract states that the Town's 500,000 gallons per day of water
reserve to the county was based on a "previously
expressed intent" to provide the water. When I asked when the
"previously expressed intent" occurred, I was provided the
minutes of a 2006 closed meeting in
which the Council discussed their overall concept for an intake by answering
a series of "give me some direction" questions from the Town Manager. Question
#6 suggests the Council would support providing 500,000 gallons per
day to non-Boone properties but would only
allow line extensions and service to areas that are under the Town's
zoning jurisdiction (the ETJ), a qualification that didn't make it
into the contract.
• So while the Council insisted publicly it would not run huge amounts of
water into the county with no development regulations, instead this past
September they signed a contract to run 500,000 gallons of water per day
into the county with no development regulations. And after the Council spent
blood and political capital years ago to push through a steep slope
ordinance to protect our mountain ridges, the current Council has handed
over 500,000 gallons per day of water that will allow unregulated
development up steep slopes.
• The Town insists it can still require that any development using its water
out in the county will have to follow its development regulations because it
says so and because it believes in pink ponies, even though the contract
language with the county only ties development outside of Boone's zoning
jurisdiction to the requirements of the Town's water and sewer code which
does not in any way require developments outside Boone's zoning jurisdiction
to follow the Town's development regulations.
• Even so, the Town has confirmed that even if they could somehow magically
get away with regulating development outside of their zoning jurisdiction,
they have absolutely no statutory authority whatsoever to permit or inspect
or ensure compliance of said "regulated" development. I asked at a recent
Water Committee meeting, "So if we don't
have any statutory authority to inspect and regulate development outside
our zoning areas, how will anyone ensure that the development in the
county is meeting the development regulations?" The Planning and
Inspections Director said, "Not me."
• When Councilwoman Clawson wanted to temporarily table the intake project
to better plan for the inevitable State taking of Boone's new intake in
light of the Asheville Water Court of Appeals
decision (that says, "there is no
constitutional prohibition against a State withdrawing from a municipality
the authority to own and operate a public water system and transferring
the municipality’s system to another political subdivision 'without
compensation' to the municipality or 'without the consent' of the
municipality’s citizens"), the majority of the Council chorus said
not to worry because their crackerjack broker/contractor attorney had
assured them the
Asheville case isn't relevant to Boone. It is astonishing,
not just to me but also to the three other attorneys I've consulted on this,
that Council can actually say this with a straight face.
• The Town Council originally pooh-poohed the suggestion that the Town's new
intake would end up handed over to a regional water authority where the town
would likely get only 3 voting members on a 15 person board, and where the
state legislature would make the majority of appointments to decide who and
what developments got water and which could vote to disallow any conditions
at all on that water. Now that Asheville lost its water in this same
fashion, Council members just don't care and in some cases have been reduced
to suggesting that might be a good thing.
• If not a water authority, what's your bet for how long it will take for
the introduction and passage of a Soucek/Jordan local bill to deny allowing
the Town to apply its development regulations outside its zoning
jurisdiction? I'm figuring right around the same time the ribbon is cut on
that new intake.
• The majority of the arguments put forth in
favor of continuing on over the cliff (Brantz,
Mason, and David) can be summed up in Mason's answers to the
questionnaire, which can be read in full by clicking HERE:
1. "The Town's water
supply is inadequate for future needs." What exactly is our vision
for this water now that we know we can't regulate development outside our
zoning jurisdiction? And exactly what future needs are we talking about? Do
we really have a need
to run unregulated water into the County and up our steep slopes?
2. "The Town has
completed all required studies, obtained needed permits and easements and
is ready to put this project out to bid." First the Town does not
have all the needed easements--one of them is hung
up in court as we speak awaiting a final decision by a judge as to
whether the commissioners will have to approve first. And it looks like the
Town Attorney missed the statutory filing deadline for paperwork
associated with filing some or all of the 16 condemnations the Town rushed
through to beat back a legislative bill that would jam things up. Second, we
have studies for sure, but the ground has shifted dramatically since those
studies. Things have significantly changed.
3. "The Town also has
secured very favorable financing terms for this project, which will be
funded from water customers through the water/sewer fund and not from tax
dollars." We've spent around $2 million so far on an intake
project that no longer resembles anything close to what the public voted for
in 2008. Why are we going to throw another $30 million plus down the hole
for a project that has now expanded to run water into unregulated areas? As
for tax dollars vs water/sewer charges--either way it's coming out of the
hides of those who pay both, which happens to be all of us living in Boone,
and our water/sewer rates are now some of the highest in the state because
we are trying to build up enough in the coffers to pay off the debt to
finance the project.
4. "If the project is
resumed in the future, water customers will face much higher water fees."
There is no evidence to support this statement. By the same logic, we can
say that if we don't build the intake, our water fees will go down.
5. "The lack of an
adequate public water supply will encourage development out in the county
which will have to rely on wells." Well, at least we're finally
acknowledging that we do plan to build an intake that will provide
significant water resources out into the unregulated County. But the rest of
the argument ignores, of course, that high intensity development follows
water, and that while the size and scope of high density development
is limited with wells, it goes all steroid on water availability.
6. "This will not only
lead to urban sprawl in areas that have limited land use planning, but
wells could compromise our water tables and potentially the water supply
to our rivers." Okay, but we get even more urban sprawl by
running water lines into unregulated and unplanned land areas. Urban Sprawl
is defined as "the spreading of urban
developments onto undeveloped land near a city" or "characterized
by [an] unplanned and uneven pattern of growth." And as for "potential"
compromising of our water tables with wells, how about the "definite"
ruination of our quality of life by encouraging high density, unregulated,
and unplanned development just outside the Town boundaries and up our steep
Everyone agrees that water
availability significantly increases development density. Everyone
agrees higher development density follows water. Everyone
agrees the Town has an effective steep slope ordinance, and everyone
agrees the county does not. The Cottages of Boone was built on
wells just outside the Town jurisdiction on an unregulated steep slope. With
significant water availability plus unregulated land, we'll get many more
and even higher density developments like this:
So who can
we vote for on November 3rd who will back up and take a hard look at
where we're headed before we proceed with the intake?
We have to make choices between a lot of bad options this year. Lynne
Mason insists that the state won't take our water and
continues to claim the Town can regulate development with the water even in
the face of all evidence to the contrary. Loretta
Clawson has been trying to get the intake put on hold to
re-evaluate but doesn't have the votes to even table for a few months to
take a sane look at reality. Jeannine
Collins is 100% behind the intake because it's a water plan
not just for Boone but for the whole area. David
Welsh would vote to table the intake because we don't have
all the easements yet, but he supports giving 500,000 gallons per day of
water to the county just to keep the peace. Jennifer
Teague has been convinced by Mason that the Town can regulate
development with intake water and that she's not gonna have to vote on it
anyhow because shovels will already be in the dirt by the time she takes
Mizelle is conflicted as well but at least she smells a rat
and has some concerns, so maybe there's some hope there before all is said
and done. Rennie Brantz
just believes everything will work itself out.
In light of all that, here are the specifics on the candidates and my
reasons for endorsements and non-endorsements.
OF BOONE MAYOR (you may vote for one):
Brantz's full responses to the questionnaire are HERE.
Brantz is an ASU professor of History and is retiring from ASU this year. He
has served on the Boone Town Council for approximately 10 years and as Mayor
Pro Tem for several years. He recently became acting Mayor when former Mayor
Andy Ball resigned in late July. Brantz says his short term as mayor thus
taught me the importance of careful preparation, active listening,
balanced decision making, clear communication, and being available."
In his answers to my questionnaire, Brantz sees managing growth, increasing
public input, defending the steep slope ordinance, updating long-term plans,
and expanding cultural activities as the most important issues facing Boone.
He believes Boone is approving too many high-density housing projects
(but continues to cast his own vote to approve them). He supports Boone's "no minimum" parking requirements for large
housing projects "as long as the
developer provides reasonable off site parking opportunities for all
tenets." Brantz supports the Town's contract with the County to
provide 500,000 gallons per day of water to the County and the Town's
water intake project. He believes the Town will be able to require Town
development regulations in the County's unregulated territory, which it
Brantz supports the Town's Urban Forestry Project, believes
"The Comprehensive Plan needs revisiting to accommodate economic and
political changes at the state and local levels," and does not
believe the Boone Police Department should prioritize low level drug
offenses. He has a solid record of assisting non-profits, encouraging the
purchase and restoration of important town properties, and putting a
positive face forward in Town matters.
I have known Brantz for
decades and, like everyone else who knows him, find him to be one of the
friendliest and most patient people I know. These are, of course,
exceptional and necessary traits for any Mayor. Brantz is very
progressive on most issues, but has
pushed for streamlining development requirements in order to move large
projects through faster. Brantz is also naive about what is at
stake as a result from the Town's continuation of the intake project. He
does not believe the state legislature will confiscate the Town water
intake and remains convinced that the Town will be able to apply its
development regulations to new water applicants (which
it will not). He either simply dismisses out of hand or chooses
to ignore any of the concerns or facts related to problems with the
intake. That's because he believes people in the end will just do the
right thing, including a County without zoning regulations and a contract
much in their favor. All that said, I think Brantz is clearly the better
choice of the two options for Mayor in this election.
Hollingsworth did not respond to the questionnaire.
Hollingworth is 23 years old and is a self-described
conservative. He works at Mount Vernon Baptist Church and is an ASU
student majoring in building science design and sustainable energy.
Hollingsworth lists his agenda as: parking deck, finish Howard street
project, support our local downtown merchants, stop wasting taxpayer money
on lobbyists and unnecessary lawsuits. He says,
"I don’t think it matters about your age,
but what you are trying to do. I have heart for the people of Boone.
That’s all that matters.”
If Hollingsworth wants to be Mayor, he needs to
his Facebook page.
COUNCIL (you may vote for three):
Clawson's full responses to the questionnaire are HERE.
Clawson served as a Town Council member for 8 years before serving as Town
of Boone Mayor for another 8 years. After a short (less than 2 year)
retirement from public service, Clawson was appointed to fill Jennifer
Pena's unexpired term when Pena moved to Greensboro. One of the many things
I like about Clawson is that she's a solidly working class gal who grew up
on the backside of Beech Mountain, and she doesn't pull any punches when she
lays out her vision: "I am running for
town council because I believe I can make a difference. I am
concerned about the direction the town has been taking. I believe we
have small town charm but are in danger of losing it. I think we
need to pay more attention to what we are approving. We should never
be a rubber stamp town."
In her answers to the questionnaire, Clawson says "the
possibility of losing our neighborhoods" and too much high-density
housing are the Town's greatest current challenges. She says the Town is
approving too many high-density development projects, has lost its focus,
and she "cannot believe that we are
allowing big housing projects to be built without any parking or with just
a few (parking) spaces." Clawson opposes the Town's contract to provide 500,000
gallons per day of water to the County ("We
could see multifamily buildings going up in the county on steep slopes
and other unregulated areas") and supports tabling the Town's
water intake project ("I believe that if
we get this new water system we will lose it just like Asheville lost
its") She supports the Town's Urban Forestry Plan ("I've
always been a tree hugger"), believes the Police Department
handles drug offenses fairly, and believes the Town should work with ASU
to maximize on-campus housing for students.
Throughout her Town service, Clawson has been a tireless and consistent
advocate for established neighborhoods, is unafraid to buck her
fellow Council members, is straightforward, and is savvy and
forward-thinking about the long-term implications of Council actions. Even
Council members who disagree with Clawson agree
that she is one of the best public servants the Town has ever had.
While I have not agreed with Clawson on various issues over the years, I
share her vision for the Town and wholeheartedly support her re-election.
Collins' full responses to the questionnaire can be read HERE.
Collins Jeannine Underdown Collins is the President of Underdown and
Associates of Boone, a real estate appraisal services company. She is a
graduate of ASU and received an ASU alumni Outstanding Service Award
in 1996 and subsequently served on the ASU Board of Trustees, including as
Chair. Collins also has volunteered with the County's Economic Development
Commission and the Tourism and Development Authority.
Collins' views as the Town's most pressing challenges sufficient "infrastructure
of the Town of Boone to keep up with its constant growth" and "smart
use of monies." She agrees with resident concerns that the Town is
approving too many high-density developments and wants to look for ways to
encourage more affordable single-family developments. Collins believes the
Town's minimum parking requirements are not sufficient and wants to revisit
the Town's earlier requirement that there be 1.5 parking spaces per bedroom
Collins supports the 500,000gpd water allocation to the County: "This
is a plan, reserve for the future of the entire area." She likewise
supports continuation of the Towns' water intake project: "It
is important to support the former leaderships' position in seeing the
intake completed for the betterment of entire area, while at the same
time, it being completed expeditiously." She supports the Town's
Urban Forestry plan and believes "any
illegal use of alcohol or drugs should be punishable."
I do not know Collins personally (although I find from her Facebook posts,
she and I have some common interests). From her answers to the
questionnaire, I also believe she expresses a vision for the Town's future
similar to mine, but I also believe Collins' desire to provide water
resources for the entire region in spite of the region's lack of development
regulations undermines her expressed desire for Boone to continue its "small
Mason's full responses to the questionnaire are extensive and detailed. You
can read them in full HERE.
Mason has served 4 terms on the Boone Town Council. During her tenure, she
has served on the Affordable Housing Taskforce, the Tourism Development
Authority, the Downtown Boone Development Association, the Transportation
Committee and Alternative Transportation Council. She has also served with
NC League of Municipalities Legislative Action Committees since 2010.
Mason answers that she has been "a leader
on the Town Council that has abandoned the status quo," that she
represents no special interests, and that she is "strongly
committed to building a better Boone for today and generations to come." Among
other things, Mason touts her successes as managing growth, adopting
the Town's 2030 vision plan, protecting neighborhoods, preserving green
space, and planning for a new water intake.
While Mason says
"balancing protection and preservation of our natural resources with
planned and responsible development" is the Town's most pressing
concern, she adds that "this issue is
driven by the market and projects that are approved have been in
compliance with Town development ordinances." Mason believes an
updated parking analysis is needed and supports the water allocation of
500,000 gallons per day to the County, believes this allocation is subject
to Town ordinances, and likewise supports continuation of the intake
project. She says the town has all the necessary permits, the Town's
current water supply is inadequate for future needs, the financing package
is "very favorable," and
building with wells creates urban sprawl. Mason supports the Town's Urban
Forestry Plan and believes the Town's Unified Development Ordinance needs
to be updated to be consistent with the Town's 2030 plan.
I have joined Mason over the years in battling
for progressive action in the Town. I first met her when we fought
together to ensure housing for folks with few resources who were being run
out of their homes to make way for the Fairfield Inn and encouraged her to
run for a Council seat. Mason (with
Clawson & Brantz) took
some real hits when they had the courage to stand up against the
Templetons and other developers to pass the Town's very important Steep
Slope ordinance. I consider Lynne and her husband, Andy, good friends.
I have enormous respect for Mason. She is tireless in advocating for what
she believes, but the fact is I hold a contrary opinion to most of what she
has advocated for over the past few years (see "My
take on what's at stake in this election"). While Mason espouses a
compelling progressive agenda and list of achievements, she equates the
adoption of "plans" with success, even when those plans are ineffective or
ignored. It's not just the water intake. It's the "no minimum parking
standards" and her votes to support virtually every large water allocation
to mega-multifamily projects in the face of an ever growing surplus. If all
these things and others collectively have allowed what people like me who
live here to consider a decline in the quality of life, how can these be
Mason is friendly and outgoing, and I am sure she will be re-elected this
year with or without my endorsement. The most difficult decision Pam's Picks
has ever made is the one not to endorse Mason this year, but I feel that by
endorsing a candidate whose priorities don't match mine would be an
abandonment of what I promised this site would be. And I'm just not willing
to ditch that principle.
Mizelle's full responses to the questionnaire can be read HERE.
Mizelle's background is in heathcare management, with extensive experience
in managing high dollar capitol projects. She and her husband moved to Boone
from eastern North Carolina, seeking life in a small but vibrant mountain
town. She says she is running for office "to
preserve all that is good here and work to fix what needs fixing."
She cites preservation of neighborhoods and downtown parking as critical
issues facing Boone and is concerned about "some
serious departures from what I believe the zoning should have been"
to protect Boone's estalished neighborhoods: "Not
protecting neighborhoods is a way of eventually killing the goose that
laid the golden egg. We have to have more foresight than that."
Mizelle does not support "no minimum" parking
standards for high-density housing developments. She notes that when ASU
students come to college, the number of cars in town doubles:
"The “no minimum parking rule” makes no sense to me at all. Adequate
parking must be required and adjacent to every home, apartment and
student bedroom." Mizelle supports the Town's Urban Forestry Plan
and wants to work to require that trees not only be planted live but kept
live as well. She also supports the Town's 2030 plan but worries that some
approved building plans do not fit its vision and that the parking needs
Mizelle believes the Town could have gotten a
better deal with the County in exchange for the 500,000 gallons per day of
water, including a refund of the $2 million in taxes taken from Boone by
the county a few years ago. She also has concerns about the easement
agreement because the County lacks essential zoning rules and regulations
for development and because the Town has no jurisdiction on County
development and construction on county land. Even in light of all these
valid concerns, Mizelle remains conflicted about tabling the Town's intake
project. She notes that currently there is "more
than enough water for the town’s current users." She also says
that since all the permits, plans and financing have been secured for the
intake, and there's a lot of new construction going on, it
might "be reasonable to proceed," but she then worries about the
wisdom of building a $32 million system the state might confiscate or the
possible loss of Boone's ETJ.
Mizelle seems to believe and be thankful that she will never have the
opportunity to have to vote on continuing or tabling the intake. I don't
know where she got that idea. Mizelle, if elected, will have every chance
to table or continue the intake. In fact, she will have complete authority
and power to ask for a vote to table at any meeting of her choosing. If
she doesn't vote to table the intake, that is a vote to continue, and she,
along with all the others who vote to move forward, will in the end be
held responsible for the intake's ultimate effects on the Town and
Welsh's full responses to the questionnaire can be read HERE.
Welsh is a fulltime realtor/broker
with Caldwell Banker and with over 18 years of selling and renting
homes in the Boone market. He has served on the Town's Board of Adjustments
since 2013 and has a background in contracts and contract negotiating. He is
especially concerned that Boone "maintain
its small-town feel as it continues to grow."
Welsh believes increased development and its resulting traffic is one of the
Town's greatest challenges and supports the Daniel Boone By-pass. He
believes the Town needs more "beatification
committees" and a continued effort to build more sidewalks and bike
trails. Welch says the Town needs to be more discerning in approving
high-density development projects and is concerned that the Town is "hitting
a level of saturation," but he does not support rezoning to provide more
single-family building because it could devalue property. Welsh
believes Boone needs to encourage "more
55+ development and put a cap on high density student housing."
Welsh supports increasing the number of parking spaces for both tenants and
commercial development. He supports the vision of the 2030 plan but believes
parts of it are unrealistic for some tracts of land: "We
need to grow slowly and in a smart way for Boone to keep its small town
feel." Welsh supports the Town's Urban Forestry project but
believes that the town's tree protection regulations are not strong enough.
Welsh approves of the 500,000 gallons per day of water contract with the
County because "we need to work better
with the county on all issues and stop the cycle of disagreements."
He would, however, table the intake project because the Town closed on the
intake property without achieving all the easements.
But, while Welsh's record (1 1/2 years) as a Board of Adjustment member
indicate he is sometimes
wary of granting some variances to large projects, he usually does so
anyway in spite of his stated willingness to put a cap on high-density
For example, on April 3, 2014, the "Standard of Boone" (huge building on Hwy
321) requested 8 variances to the Town's zoning regulations, including,
among other things, increasing the maximum allowable building footprint;
allowing a reduction in the percentage of street level floor area that was
required to be commercial; increasing the building height within the
protected neighborhood zone; and an allowance for more height than they were
allowed with the distance they had set the building back. All of the
variances except one passed, but Welsh only voted against decreasing the
commercial space and allowing an increase of building height in the
I like Welsh and almost endorsed him for a seat on Council. I find most of
his responses to the questionnaire thoughtful, but I haven't seen much
evidence to date of actions to support what he says.
COUNCIL UNEXPIRED TERM (you may vote for one):
Teague's full responses to the questionnaire can be read HERE.
Teague has lived in Boone for 14 years and became Director
at the Lois E. Harrill Senior Center in Boone in 2013. Before that,
she coordinated marketing and admissions at Deerfield Ridge Assisted Living.
She has a Bachelor's degree in sociology and a master's in community
counseling from ASU. Teague says she is running for Boone Town Council
because "I believe it is important for
individuals to be active in their community." She wants to
build partnerships with ASU and the County "to
build partnerships that will grow Boone in a healthy and sustainable way."
Teague believes the most important issues facing Boone are housing and
parking. She wants to create incentives to revitalize older developments and
encourage more single family developments, require sufficient parking for
new developments, match "new projects
with the current neighborhood and community in which they are being
suggested," and explore options for parking decks.
Teague supports the 2030 vision plan, but believes in regards to mixed use
developments, "the implementation of the
vision has not had the intended results of the vision." Teague says
the Town doesn't actually have "no minimum" parking standards. Instead, the
Town Planning and Inspections Administrator has the authority to adjust
the minimum required number of parking spaces downward. (ED--That
is the definition of "no minimum" standards). Nonetheless, Teague
promises to "look at these rules to see
if new or different standards should be created to limit the amount of
deductions a developer can remove." She supports the Town's Urban
Forestry Plan and does not believe pursuit of low-level drug offenses should
be a priority.
Teague says her understanding is that the agreement to give the County
500,000 gallons per day of water was made in closed session and without
knowing what occurred in that closed session, it's hard for her to approve
or disapprove of the contract, but she sees no issues with the agreement as
long as the County has to abide by the Town's development issues (which
it does not) and as long as the county development will pay for
the use of the water. Teague skirts stating a position on the intake other
than to state that as far as she can tell the Town has "followed
the proper channels" and that by the time she is elected, the issue
will have been addressed. (Perhaps Teague will rethink her position now that
she can read what really happened in that
closed session and now that she knows all "proper
channels" have not been followed.)
Teague's assertion that she will try to find a way to limit the number of
parking requirement deductions Planning and Inspections can allow for a
development instead of simply requiring that there be no deductions from
ordinance established minimums is of concern to me because I fear she is
more motivated by compromise than getting it right, and I assume the
ordinance minimums were established for good reason. And like Mizelle,
Teague appears to want to avoid having to stake out a clear position on the
water intake. Unlike Mizelle, Teague remains under the mistaken impression
that the Town's 500,000 gallons per day of water will have to comply with
Regardless, Teague is running unopposed for Pena's unexpired 2-year term, so
her election is a given.