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2017 TOWN OF BOONE ELECTIONS
Early Voting has Ended. You can still vote.
Election Day Is Tuesday, November 7th

NOTE: The Boone 2 Precinct has been moved from Legends to the ASU Student Union. The ASU Student Union will be open for voting on Election Day.

QUICK LINK: Click here for a printable PDF "Pam's Picks" marked sample ballot for the November 7th Town of Boone elections (PDF file)You can print it out and take it with you into your polling place. You are NOT allowed to use your cell phone or any other electronic device once inside the voting enclosure. My marked sample ballot is also pictured below.
WHO CAN VOTE IN THIS ELECTION: Registered Watauga County voters who live within the Boone Town limits. This includes students living in dorms on ASU's campus. If you are living within the Town of Boone and are not registered to vote, you can register and vote on the same day during the early voting period only. You CANNOT register and vote on Election Day itself, November 7th. For more information on how to register and vote on the same day, click HERE.


Click here to read "My Take on This Year's Election."

Click HERE for a full discussion of candidates running for Town of Boone Mayor.
Click HERE for a full discussion of candidates running for Town of Boone Council.

Tip of the hat to ASU SGA for candidate promo videos.




NOVEMBER 7TH BALLOT (how I will cast my ballot):





QUICK CLICKS:



Click here for a list version of my endorsements.




Click here for early voting locations and hours.

Click here to find out the three ways you can cast your ballot.

Click here to find out how to register and vote on the same day.


Click here for important information on voting this year.

Click here to find your Election Day precinct location.

Click here to read "My Take on This Year's Election."


Click here for Pam's Picks Disclaimer.




HERE IS THE LIST VERSION OF MY ENDORSEMENTS FOR THIS YEAR'S TOWN OF BOONE ELECTIONS:


Town of Boone Mayor (you may vote for ONE):

Rennie Brantz


Boone Town Council (you may vote for THREE)

Marshall Ashcraft
Sam Furgiuele
Connie Ulmer

The Disclaimer: What is Pam's Picks?


“Pam’s Picks” is simply one person’s opinion about the 2017 Town of Boone Election Ballot.  I am a progressive Boone resident and have long held interest in local politics and issues. I am an activist for voting rights and environmental and community issues and generally endorse the candidate who most reflects and espouses my progressive bent. Pam's Picks endorsements may or may not reflect endorsements of a political party, but Pam's Picks is independent of any political party.


What's in Pam's Picks?


General voting information (when, where, and how) and information on all candidates whose names will appear on your November 7th Town of Boone ballot. The candidates are presented below 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 answers to Pam's Picks' questionnaire, candidate voting records, ASU SGA candidate videos, press reports, and/or other sources. I have also supplied candidate web site references and/or Facebook links where available. I provide Party affiliation for all candidates, regardless of whether the race is partisan or non-partisan. I believe informed voters know the party affiliation of all candidates. For additional information, you can follow the provided links or contact candidates directly with your questions.


IMPORTANT INFO ON VOTING THIS YEAR:

All registered voters living within the Town of Boone are eligible to vote in the November elections. If you are not registered, you can register AND vote on the same day during "Early One-Stop Voting." Click here for more details.

-----YOU DO NOT NEED AN ID TO VOTE unless you are registering to vote during the early voting period.


-----YOU CAN VOTE OUT OF YOUR DESIGNATED PRECINCT ON ELECTION DAY. You must already be a registered voter to vote on election day. You can vote"out of precinct" on election day if you are a registered voter. You can go to any Town of Boone Election Day 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 located elsewhere. As long as you are a registered voter living within the Town of Boone, your vote WILL count.

Town of Boone Election Day locations include:
Downtown Boone Courthouse on King Street, The "Blue Ridge Ballroom" in the ASU Student Union, Agricultural Conference Center on Poplar Grove Road, Oak Grove Baptist Church in the Brushy Fork Precinct, Boone Town Council Chambers on Hwy 321 (Police Department), Mt. Vernon Baptist Church on Bamboo Road, Laurel Fork Baptist Church at 235 Laurel Fork Church Road, and Three Forks Baptist Association on Hwy 194.

HOW TO REGISTER & VOTE ON THE SAME DAY:


-----You can register to vote and vote on the same day during the early voting period. You CANNOT register to vote and vote on election day.


-----Same day registrants must prove their residence by presenting any of the following documents showing their current name and current address (NOTE: Current address means the document is no more than three months old):


(1) NC Driver's license (if the address on the license is where you currently live); or
(2) A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or any other government document if it has your name and address; or
(3) A student transcript, tuition statement, invoice, or any receipt issued by the college or university (ASU will send all ASU dorm students a copy of the document they need to prove residency for voting in October via email); or
(4) Documents issued by a temporary or transitional housing facility.


-----ASU Students living in dorms
can show their ASU Student ID and any document from ASU that has your name and on-campus housing address. ASU is sending all ASU dorm students a copy of the document they will need to prove residency in October via email. This information can be presented when you go to vote in hard copy OR from your cell phone.



Here are your options for casting a ballot in this year's election:


(OPTION #1): VOTE BEFORE ELECTION DAY:




All registered and non-registered Town of Boone County residents (ASU students who live in dorms are Town of Boone residents) can vote during the early voting period. If you are not already registered to vote, you can register and vote at the same time during the early voting period (not on Election Day). The early voting period runs from October 19th through November 4th. You can vote during the early voting period at either of these two locations:


Watauga County Courthouse/Board of Elections – 814 West King Street Boone NC 28607

  • Weekdays October 19 - November 3: 8am – 5pm
  • Saturday November 4: 8AM - 1PM

    ASU: Plemmons Student Union (Blue Ridge Ball Room) – 263 Locust Street Boone NC 28607
       • Weekdays only: October 26 -November 3: 10am – 5pm

(OPTION #2): VOTE ON ELECTION DAY:


Polls are open on Election Day, November 7th, from 6:30AM-7:30PM.



You can vote at your regular election day precinct (your home precinct) or any other Town of Boone precinct on election day if you are a registered Boone voter. If you appear to vote in a precinct other than your home precinct, you will be allowed to vote a "provisional ballot." If you are a registered voter in Boone, your provisional ballot WILL count. You cannot register to vote and vote on election day.




All Town of Boone election day precincts are listed here. If 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 at 828.265.8061. 




NOTE: The precinct judges are required to tell you if you arrive at a precinct other than your own 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 provisional ballot.


(OPTION #3): REQUEST THAT AN ABSENTEE BALLOT BE MAILED TO YOUR HOME:


Go here: 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

NOTE: 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 your ballot.

MY TAKE ON THIS YEAR'S TOWN OF BOONE RACES:

I'll be frank. I am very concerned about the way things are going in Boone government, and I believe we are on the fast track to losing our quality of life and environmental protections.

While the current Council members can most certainly be counted on to stand up against asphalt plants and in support of community-initiated projects (like the Appalachian Theater and the new downtown recharging center) and while they fall on the progressive side of social issues, they have lost their way when it comes to development and open government and are now scrambling to fix problems that they themselves have either created or allowed to continue. Worse, they are resistant to voices other than those within their limited circle.

I was impressed with all of the candidate responses to the Pam's Picks' questionnaire. (You can read the candidates' complete responses HERE.) All the candidates responded, sometimes passionately, that they love our mountain community, want more input from the public, are dedicated to encouraging more affordable housing, and want to maintain our quality of life and environment.

But the proof is in the pudding.

While giving impressive lip service to their support for better development, affordable housing, and for a more transparent government, the incumbents' voting records and actions do not reflect their stated promises.

As a result, what is left of Boone is fast becoming nothing more than privately-owned, high-end dorm rooms stacked one on top of the other that are not set back far enough off the road to avoid serious water runoff, have too few parking spaces to accommodate the hundreds who live there, are too tall, are ugly, do not provide workforce housing, and that, to add insult to injury, stiff ASU students with ridiculous prices for so-called luxury living. Most of these developments are built by outside developers who don't live here and who have no vested interest in ensuring a livable town and our quality of life.

The type of building the Town is not only allowing, but is actually encouraging whether intentionally or unintentionally, brings us developments like The Standard, which even most Town Council members now claim to detest even though three current sitting elected Town Council officials (Mason, Brantz, David) voted to approve it.

In the last four years alone, here are some of the larger rent-by-the-bedroom projects approved by the Boone Town Council:

The Standard (towards campus from the Wendy's intersection on Hwy 321): "Affordable Lavish living in Boone, NC." 5 stories tall, 450 beds, 3600 square foot gym, 490 parking spaces: approved 4 (Brantz, Mason, Pena, David) to 1 (Hay--absent).

University Outlook (across from the Convocation Center): slightly over 4 stories tall, 24 apartments and 28 parking spaces on just .7 acre!: approved 4 (Mizelle, Underdown-Collins, Mason, Teague) to 1 (Clawson).

Rivers Walk (approved but not yet built): Snakes along and against Poplar Grove Road and downtown--Old Southern States property, 148 apartments, 380 bedrooms, 184 parking spaces, on 2.7 acres: approved 5-0 (Brantz, Mason, David, Hay, Pena)

The Shadowline Property (approved but not yet built): luxury living, "high-income renters," gated, 457 bedrooms, 700-square-foot swimming pool, a clubhouse and gym. approved 4 (Mason, Ball, Scherlen, Brantz) to 1 (Leigh)

The Marketplace (approved but not yet built--frontage on King, Water and Howard streets in downtown Boone): 350 parking spaces, 159 bedrooms, 1300-1500 additional vehicle trips per day on King and Water Streets, 4 Stories high on King Street, 5 stories high on Howard Street : approved 4 (Mason, Underdown-Collins, Mizelle, Teague) to 1 (Clawson)

King and College: (approved but not yet built--across from the Education building on King Street): 1.4 acres with two separate buildings, 60 bedrooms, four stories: approved 5-0 (Mason, Underdown-Collins, Mizelle, Teague, Clawson)

(I should note there are a few new developments that seem to work: Winkler Square on Hwy 321 across from Hardees and Boone Point near New Market Center come to mind. But they are suitably sized for their locations and only three stories tall. Boone Point has its retail space fully rented because there is parking for it. Winkler Square does not have its retail space rented because there is inadequate parking for it.)

How did we get here?

While the incumbent candidates for the most part bemoan the mega, rent-by-the-bedroom, right-on-the-road complexes, and say they are committed to protecting Boone's small-town feel, they continue to approve them anyway, by granting them a conditional use rezoning, a "Planned Development" rezoning, or just by giving them water resources.

The incumbent candidates say they all actually oppose building over 4 stories in building height and have now tried to fix this problem in the Town ordinances, as well as have made after-the-fact changes to minimum parking standards, conveniently ignoring that the Town's new "Planned Development Ordinance" they passed in 2015 3 (Brantz, Mason, David) to 2 (Clawson, Hay) allows them to negotiate away with a developer the very ordinance requirements they just tweaked.

These high-density, rent-by-the-bedroom mega complexes being built in Boone are not being built "by right"  as asserted by candidate David in his questionnaire responses. They are not permitted under our current regulations. If they were, they would have been simply approved by staff without ever going to Council. The mega developments listed above have instead been granted a waiver to the Town's regulations and/or accommodated with rezonings and/or granted significant water resources through negotiation with the developer.

The Council's new "Planned Development Ordinance" makes matters worse. The stated purpose and "intent" of the ordinance is to negotiate with a developer to "make the development plan more desirable," to "provide a unified and compatible development," and to end up, through that negotiation, with a "development plan which is found to be in the public interest." Certainly a most impressive intent.

Of course good intentions can often lead to unintended consequences, and I have been told the road to hell is paved with them.

The developer-friendly "Planned Development Ordinance" turns substantial planning power over to individual developers, who make decisions on a parcel-by-parcel, piecemeal basis based on their personal financial interests. Our Council arrives at the negotiating table assuming that the developers sitting on the other side are fundamentally decent folks like them, committed to doing what's in the Town's best interest instead of committed to making a strong profit in as short an order as possible.

This doesn't mean our Council members are bad people or failures in life. It just means they suck at negotiation, and, as a result, we, the people of Boone, almost always come away with the short end of the stick.

Speaking of Short Sticks.

For developers angling to squeeze more building onto small parcels, the "Planned Development Ordinance" offers a loophole, and the developers love it because the approvals for "Planned Development" rezonings have thus far typically resulted in bigger and taller on even tiny sites – while doing very little to truly force a superior project. The "Planned Development Ordinance" has become the path of least resistance for developers wanting to build the wrong thing on the wrong site.

To their credit, Council did tweak the "Planned Development" ordinance in June 2016 in an attempt to address some of its weaknesses. The Majority also denied the proposed Rivers Walk "Planned Development" proposal in a 4 (Mason, Clawson, Underdown-Collins, Teague) to 1 (Mizelle) vote. But if it isn't working, why not just put the ordinance on hold or repeal it outright? Or even start over!

For these and other reasons, we are losing our traditional neighborhoods, most recently now in the Perkinsville area. We are also watching any chance of affordable housing go down the drain of luxury apartment runoff. And a town is simply not viable without both. As candidate David aptly notes in his questionnaire responses, "In the last 7 years it appears the town has lost around 1,000 citizens from owner occupied housing to be replaced with rentals, or even worse, vacant 2nd homes."

While all candidates profess a strong desire to protect Boone's traditional neighborhoods from incompatible development, the only sitting Council members to consistently vote to protect neighborhoods are Mason and Clawson, neither or whom is up for re-election this year.

Underdown-Collins believes the town is effectively protecting its established neighborhoods, so there's that. Mizelle says protecting neighborhoods is "a serious challenge" but doesn't mention that she (along with Underdown-Collins) voted against a panicked neighborhood above state Farm Road, wherein residents came out in force against the project saying it would forever set a bad precedent for encroaching incompatible development in their neighborhood. And it will. Nor does Mizelle mention her vote to undermine a previously negotiated compromise between the Wintergreen neighborhood and the Marriott Hotel in favor of the Marriott's request to forgo that carefully crafted compromise to install a large lighted sign shining into the neighborhood.

There are other issues too.

The recent request I made to the Town for two years of public records reveals, among other things, cases wherein (1) one incumbent Council member is repeatedly dismissive of (in some cases hostile to) citizen complaints or suggestions; (2) another incumbent Council member who is impressed by all the phone calls from "smart influential" people; (3) occasional back-door negotiation through the Manager; (4) a Town Manager who sometimes leaves Council and the Mayor out of the loop and who at times subtly encourages dissension, and (5) a Mayor and Council who delegate too much of their authority to the Manager.

There was a recent (and in my opinion tragic) example of the repercussions of delegating too much authority to the Manager. Even though all incumbent candidates (save Mizelle) answered they believed the Town of Boone should follow its own ordinances (as it has historically done) in developing the peoples' public property, they didn't notice until after the fact that the Town Manager burned the circa 1948 home and damaged significant trees at the newly-acquired Town Bolick property without so much as a nod to the requirements of the Town ordinances or state law. And without the public input promised by the Mayor.

The Bottom Line.

I believe we deserve a Council that stands strong behind all of us who live and work here. Instead, we have a Council whose actions, however well-intentioned, have resulted in putting the wants and profits of outside developers in front of all of us who actually live and work here. And they just can't seem to find it in themselves to do much other than try to tease out minor changes around the edges of their mistakes.

As a result we're losing our traditional neighborhoods at a rapid pace. Boone's student residents are being forced into paying ungodly sums in rent for a single bedroom. We are losing that small-town character that brought many of us here in the first place. We are losing our environmental safeguards. And we're eating up what remains of our greenspace.

We can do better. All we have to do is demand better.

So this is what we're left with: for this year's Town of Boone elections, three incumbents are running against three challengers. All the candidates are decent people. And all the candidates indicate in their questionnaire responses that they recognize there are serious development pressures and problems in Boone and that they are more than willing to make changes to fix those problems.

But the incumbents have had the chance to do what they said they said they would do, and they haven't. They say they will, but they won't. In fact, they have made things worse over the past few years. You don't have to take my word for it. Look at their meeting minutes and at their votes. Or try to negotiate water runoff in front of The Standard when it rains. Or just take a look outside your window.

In fact, when the Council had a clear opportunity this past August to keep going the way they are going or consider changing course, they chose to keep going the way they are going.

When considering three qualified applicants to fill the unexpired term of Jennifer Teague through December, they chose the one applicant who they believed would keep on keeping on: the applicant who "has experience": who "was already familiar with the Town"; and who "would bring devotion to the Town Council."

As former President Obama so famously reminded us, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." I believe we need a change, are desperate for one in fact before it's too late, and are unlikely to ever get that change with the current Council. Thankfully, there are three qualified and motivated challengers running for Boone Town Council seats, and I am endorsing all three of them in this year's races.


Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/national-politics/article105511961.html#storylink=cp
TOWN OF BOONE MAYOR: (you may vote for ONE)

Rennie Brantz (Democrat): Rennie Brantz on Facebook

Click here for Brantz's full questionnaire responses.

Brantz is recently retired as a professor of History at Appalachian State University. He served as a Boone Town Council member for over a decade and as Mayor Pro-tem. He was elected to a full term as Mayor in 2015. He is running unopposed this year.

In answer to the Pam's Picks questionnaire, Brantz says he is running for re-election to "to keep our community on a stable, progressive course" and that he supports, among other things, "controlled economic growth, neighborhood preservation, diverse and affordable housing, and environmental protection." He believes that Boone's greatest challenge is managing growth while at the same time preserving small town character.

Brantz believes the Town is "reasonably successful" in preserving traditional neighborhoods but that these neighborhoods remain under threat from AirBnBs, that Neighborhood Conservation Districts need to be better enforced, and that more discussion needs to take place with ASU about residence hall construction.

Brantz wants to offer redevelopment incentives and seek grant monies to address affordable housing needs. He supports the "Planned Development" ordinance because he believes it encourages more public input (which in my opinion it does not), because it simplifies the development process, offers developers more flexibility, and involves the Town Council in the final approval process. He believes we have "reached capacity" in student housing complexes and opposes building in Boone over 4 stories in height.

Brantz says, "a 'sustainable environment' means living in harmony with nature and our diverse communities." He supports, among other things, shifting to renewable energy, 'green jobs,' reduced pollution, more recycling, and "a 10 cent fee on every plastic bag used by customers at our grocery stores." Brantz believes the public should have a say through referendum for Town commitments of over million dollar in expenditures, and that the Town should follow its own ordinances in the development of public property.

I have known Brantz for many years. He is a kind man, much dislikes political football, and leans very, very progressive. He is a good man. But while well-intentioned, I believe Brantz readily delegates too much of his responsibility to the Town Manager, whose actions do not reflect Brantz's stated vision. In fact, those actions undermine Brantz's stated vision.

Brantz is running unopposed this year. I am hoping he will be more proactive and hands-on in his second term.

TOWN OF BOONE COUNCIL: (you may vote for THREE)

Candidates are presented below in the order they will appear on your ballot.

Marshall Ashcraft (Democrat): no site found

Click here for Ashcraft's full questionnaire responses.

Ashcraft is recently retired as Watauga County Schools Public Information Officer for 13 years. A year ago he was presented the monthly Servant’s Heart Award by the Watauga County Board of Education. Previously Ashcraft served as a budget/management analyst in the Raleigh/Durham area. This is Ashcraft's first run for public office.

Ashcraft responded to the Pam's Picks questionnaire that he wanted to "preserve and strengthen (Boone) for those who live here now and those who will live here in the future" and pointed to his skills and experience in local government. He believes the greatest issue facing Boone is "striking the right balance between promoting economic development and preserving Boone’s special qualities and livability" and that we need to better monitor our planning strategies and address infrastructure issues to ensure the Town makes decisions based on long-term consequences.

Ashcraft sees the protection of Boone's traditional neighborhoods as an "ongoing challenge" and believes that offering increased opportunities for public input is key. To provide more affordable housing, Ashcraft suggests, among other things, working on more public/private partnerships and appropriate regulations.

Ashcraft supports the Planned Development Ordinance "in principle," but believes there are problems in its "application." He suggests that while the plan offers flexibility, "the question is whether we are making appropriate use of that flexibility without making too many tradeoffs that affect the quality of local development." He believes the Town should revist the ordinance.

Ashcraft says the growth of high density, rent-by-the-bedroom housing developments "is understandable but not, in my view, desirable." Nonetheless, he does not support an absolute 4-story limit on developments as long as there are "proper standards for green space, setbacks, acceptable slope, parking, viewshed impacts, and other development/landscaping measures."

Ashcraft believes the Town should look for efficiency and resource conservation in providing town services and use "incentives, regulatory powers, and partnerships to encourage resource conservation by residents and businesses" to create a more sustainable Boone. As to the requirement for public referendums before Town expenses in excess of a million dollars, Ashcraft supports such a referendum on bond issues that "require a tax increase or significant hikes in town fees." He adds: "In a representative democracy, our job as citizens and voters is not to directly decide each issue, but to hold accountable those whom we elect to represent us. If we are unhappy with the results of our elections, we should get involved and change our representatives."

Ashcraft believes the Town should follow its own ordinances in the development of public property.

I have only recently met Ashcraft. While I don't agree with him on all the issues (based on his answers to the questionnaire), I do find him deliberate and well informed, and I believe he would bring a thoughtful perspective to Council and encourage new ideas and approaches.

Jeannne Underdown-Collins (Democrat)
:
No links found

Click here for Underdown-Collins' full questionnaire responses.

Underdown-Collins is the President of Underdown & Associates, Inc, an Appraiser, Real Estate business. She was also the Chair of Board of Trustees for Appalachian State University from 2009-2010. Underdown-Collins ran for a seat on Boone Town Council in 2015 but fell short of a win. She was subsequently appointed in a 4-1 vote by Council to fill the unexpired seat of Rennie Brantz when he won the Mayor seat that same year.

Underdown-Collins says her primary reason for running for a seat on Council is to "continue to serve the citizens of Boone through reasonable non-partisan leadership" and to preserve Boone's heritage and small-town feeling. She believes the most important challenge facing Boone is a lack of funds for improving infrastructure while "keeping up with" growth.

Underdown-Collins believes the town is effectively protecting its established neighborhoods, citing her specific votes to prevent incompatible development in certain neighborhoods. However, Underdown-Collins added that she believes developments proposed near or in established neighborhoods "be considered site and location specific." I think she is referring to her lead vote, along with Council members Mizelle and Teague (Clawson and Mason voted against), to rezone a property on State Farm Road that the neighborhood warned would subject their community to similar incompatible development long-term.

Underdown-Collins says that encouraging affordable housing in the Town has remained elusive and that "a public private partnership may be the solution." She supports the "Planned Development" ordinance "when administered properly." She says it is "a tool that can be used to better a development or project than the original pertaining ordinance will allow." She cites the yet-to-be-built  "King & College" development as an example of the PD working without negative input, but there actually was negative input about this project, including concerns about increases in traffic and in traffic flow for the neighborhood above it.

Underdown-Collins says she does not support high density housing developments such as The Standard or the Rivers Walk development at the old Southern States Building, claiming that "This type of high density development congests our corridors and infiltrates our mountain views."  She also maintains more public input is needed to take another look at the Town's Mixed use/multi family dwelling ordinances and opposes a requirement for retail on the bottom of these developments. In addition to the King and College development, she voted in favor of The Marketplace development for downtown Boone and University Outlook across from the convocation center.

Underdown-Collins cited, among other things, protection of "view, slope and watersheds; making Boone more pedestrian friendly; and implementing more incentives for zero waste activities" as her focus for making Boone more sustainable. She also maintains that million dollar plus expenditures should be made by public officials as opposed to through referendums, "depending on the issue," and that the Town should follow its own ordinances when developing public property.

I like Underdown-Collins personally. I find her friendly and engaging. But her votes reflect her unwillingness to demand adequate concessions from developers desiring to build large-scale, rent-by-the-bedroom developments, instead choosing to rezone properties specifically to help meet individual developer needs. These types of developments undermine the quality of life for the students who live there as well as for the community at large.

I also believe Underdown's commitment to neighborhoods is shaky at best and that by getting rid of the commercial space under housing developments (a frequent request by developers), we will end up with nothing other than high-priced rent-by-the-bedroom dorms on the Hwy 321 strip and would lose any chance at all for small business/office opportunity. Those retail spaces would be rented if there were parking for their patrons and, besides, they give our entire town someplace to walk to other than just to and from ASU.

Quint David (Unaffiliated): Quint David for Boone Town Council on Facebook

Click here for David's full questionnaire responses.

David has been in the building energy business since 2007 with IONCON, a sustainability engineering company located in Boone. He was elected to a two-year term on the Boone Town Council in 2013 but chose not to seek re-election after his term ended. He was appointed in August by the sitting Council 3 (Mason, Underdown-Collins, Mizelle) to 1 (Clawson) to fill Teague's unexpired term through December of this year.

David says he is running for Town Council to take care of the needs of its people, protect our mountain environment, and encourage the local business community. His vision is a walkable, bike-able town and long-term sustainability.

David says the most important challenge facing Boone is "ensuring that our workers have an affordable place to live" and travel to work. He says "to improve the quality of life for the people in our community we have to place walking or riding the bus in front of using a car, simple as that." He would like to see 3-story mixed-use walkable density with public parking and "multi-modal greenways" and believes that "all students and workers should live, walk, or ride the bus in town."

David does not believe the Town is effectively protecting established neighborhoods. He notes that "in the last 7 years it appears the town has lost around 1,000 citizens from owner-occupied housing to be replaced with rentals, or even worse, vacant 2nd homes." He suggests the Town partner with ASU for the creation of student housing set goals for how many workers/students they want in town vs out.

David supports the concept behind the Town's "Planned Development" ordinance and hopes that developments that have been approved under the ordinance will prove successful. He says that "by-right" large-scale developments are what we see in Town at present. (This is actually not true. Most of these developments, like The Standard, were passed through conditional use permits or rezonings, not "by right." Council members, including David, approved rezonings and ordinance variances to allow these complexes to be built.)

As for buildings over 4 stories, David prefers "the same human-scale density as king st on corridors, and taller buildings pushed back where they are less noticeable." He supports a limit on height on primary streets and the Town's corridors down to 3 stories/45 feet.

When it comes to sustainability, David cites, among other things, less asphalt and more of our food and energy coming from our own county and neighboring counties. He believes referendums on over $5 million in Town expenditures are unnecessary because "citizens do (so) every November when selecting their representation at election time." He says those who have asked Council to back up and reconsider the new water intake are motivated for "partisan political reasons (and) should be held accountable for their actions" (ed: Really?) As to whether the Town should follow its own ordinances in public property development, David believes the town should follow its own ordinances "for trees, ethics, speed limits, zoning etc."

David and I have a similar vision for much of his platform on the face of it, and I supported him in his first run for office in 2013. But it turns out even where we agree, we have a very different way of getting there. I am happy, for instance, that David now opposes buildings like The Standard, even though he voted for it. He also voted to rezone the River's Walk property to enable that luxury mega building to go forward. I would have hoped he wouldn't have voted for them in the first place, but we can all learn from our mistakes and I salute him for acknowledging his.

But my primary concern about David is that in spite of his apparent easy-going manner, he believes anyone, be it residents or fellow Council members, who question an action/inaction or policy of the Council are personal adversaries. This adversarial nature can be witnessed in the Council public records, even against young people who were once trying to persuade him to sign a petition about floride in the water.  His instincts are to attack, not to solve, and I have seen him accuse even some non-political residents of Grand Boulevard on Facebook who had filed noise complaints of being in the partisan pockets of the Democratic Party (ed: Really?). While I brush off these attacks when they come at me, I believe they are uncalled for and unprofessional when thrown against other citizens of our Town and County who are simply registering complaints or concerns about Council actions.

Sam Furgiuele (Unaffiliated):
Sam Furgiuele For Town Council on Facebook

Click here for Furgiuele's full questionnaire responses.

Furgiuele served as attorney for the Town of Boone from 2001-2014, when he retired. He has maintained his attorney business, now specializing in social security disability claims, on King Street for almost 20 years, and he and his wife bought the historic Proper building on Water Street in order to save it. This is Furgiuele's first run for public office.

Furgiuele says that as Town Attorney, he "received an up-close look at the many pressures on the community and how easily things turn out poorly when we don’t anticipate challenges instead of reacting to them," and that this is partially currently demonstrated in approving development projects which are "destructive to the town so many of us want."

Furgiuele's overall vision for Boone is that Boone become a leading “green” community; "that Boone remain a community which is a peaceful and enjoyable place to live and that we don’t have to feel threatened over and over by developments which erode the quality of our lives; and that we maintain a thriving small business community." He sees Boone's biggest challenge as addressing threats to Boone's low-density residential neighborhoods from incompatible development.

Furgiuele laments the Town "has shown a limited will at times" to refuse development proposals that endanger Boone's neighborhoods: "I was stunned when the Town Council recently rezoned a nearby area off State Farm Road against the wishes of the same neighborhood it had spent so much to defend (in previous years)." He proposes rezoning where necessary, increasing the size of transitional zones between neighborhoods and incompatible development, and having the Town provide a Public Advocate on staff.

Citing limited tools under State law to address affordable housing, Furgiuele proposes creation of a new zoning district for “Cottage” housing and “Tiny Houses.” "As a transition between higher and lower density neighborhoods, a zoning district for such housing is possible and desirable, and we should move quickly to create it."

Furgiuele says he supported a “Planned Development” concept initially, but he had recommended it be reserved only for very large pieces of undeveloped Town of Boone land (such as the old high school property or Boone Golf Course). He says what the Town adopted, however, "allows free-form development anywhere in town, even on the tiniest of lots, and in practice it has not worked." He says the ordinance should be repealed because (1) "while intended to encourage negotiation between developers and neighborhoods it has instead provided developers with talking points to convince the Town Council that neighborhood issues had been addressed when they hadn’t"; and (2) that it allows allows developers to ignore virtually every requirement of the Town’s ordinances (ie: inadequate parking, extreme dimensions, poor architectural features, etc.)
Furgiuele believes "the Town’s experiment with high buildings pushing up against our streets and sidewalks has failed."
 
Furgiuele says the Town has approved too many high-density, rent-by-the-bedroom apartments. He believes such mammoth projects "destroy our quality of life, clog our streets and eventually reduce occupancy in already existing housing, creating urban blight."
He adds that the practice of rent-by-the bedroom is "predatory" and offers ideas in his questionnaire responses for disseminating tenant and other rights to those living in these developments.

Furgiuele considers an environment “sustainable” when, among other things, it has encouraged more conservation and the use of non-fossil fuels; reduced its waste stream; developed as much greenspace as possible, encouraged the use of local-produced food;
has begun to deal with storm-water; and "has become a leader in educating itself about chemicals and other materials that are harmful to the environment." His ideas to reach his vision include, among other things, rebate programs for the installation/conversion to solar panels; better ways to encourage pedestrian/bicycle traffic and public transportation; incentives to reduce the wastefulness and use of plastics; and more purchases of land for parks and natural areas.

Furgiuele says the Town should not deplete reserve funds or borrow massive sums without allowing the voters to weigh in. He says that when the Town's ETJ (Extra Territorial Jurisdiction) was taken away from Boone by the State Legislature, the Town's "enormous supplemental allocation (for the water intake) without going back to the voters was a mistake." He believes the Town of Boone should always follow its own ordinances.

I have known Furgiuele for almost 20 years. He is smart, progressive, creative, and puts his money where his mouth is. He has demonstrated over and over again his commitment to the Town's historic buildings and his devotion to and work towards progressive causes.

Without Furgiuele, the Watauga County Voting Rights Task Force would not exist. His early legal counsel to the Watauga County Voting Rights Task Force was instrumental in getting the organization off the ground and in protecting the voting rights of ASU students and others in the County.

His experience, innovative ideas, and perspectives would be a breath of fresh air, and is much needed in my opinion, on the Council. He listens, considers carefully, and works well with others. I believe our entire community will be much better served if he wins a Council seat.

Charlotte Mizelle (Democrat):
Charlotte Mizelle on Facebook

Click here for Mizelle's full questionnaire responses.

Mizelle
and her husband moved to Boone from eastern North Carolina. Her background is in healthcare management, with extensive experience in managing high dollar capital projects. She was elected in 2015 to a two-year term on the Boone Town Council and is seeking re-election this year.

Mizelle says she is running for re-election to the Boone Town Council because she enjoys the process of getting things done, because she enjoys working with a "dynamic" Council, and because she enjoys working with the Town Manager and staff. Her vision is "to continue to work on managing the inevitable growth of the town and university….a serious challenge…and to continue to listen to the citizens of Boone responsibly."

Mizelle touts the Council's headway on modifying regulations in the Town's development ordinances and holding taxes steady with no increase. She says that the Council has increased transparency through the use of its website and Facebook among other things, although I have personally found few improvements in this area: the website remains clunky (although it has improved in meeting and minutes searches), many notices that are supposed to be advertised on the Town's calendar as a matter of public notice never appear, and the real-time meeting videos rarely offer sound.

Mizelle says the greatest challenge facing Boone is to ensure the Town's infrastructure is adequate to support growth needs. She sees protecting neighborhoods as a serious challenge and notes that she recently voted to protect the Green Street neighborhood and the single family homes left on their street. She does not mention that she voted against similar protection for a neighborhood off State Farm Road, wherein residents came out in force against the project saying it would forever set a bad precedent for incompatible development in their community. Mizelle also voted in favor of a lighted sign at the Marriott that would have negated previous carefully negotiations with the adjacent Wintergreen neighborhood prior to the hotel's building.

Mizelle also notes she took "an active part in running off a 500 bed project where the traffic would be impossible. It was a great company that would have been a pleasure to work with, but it was the wrong project in Boone. I spent hours talking to these folks." I, along with Mizelle, attended the neighborhood meeting for this project. The project, another mega rent-by-the-bedroom development to located just off the Hwy 105 extension, could never figure out how to get the project's projected number of vehicles into or off of 105. For that reason, the project never appeared before the Council.

Mizelle
says, "we have all learned from the “Standard” building on Highway 321. It’s too tall and too close to the road. The council members at the time had no intention of hurting Boone. There were virtually no objections from the public and now we have to simply learn from it."  She also says she voted against the Rivers Walk proposed for the old Southern States site. Actually, Mizelle was not on Council at the time this project was approved by Council, but she was the sole Council member to vote in favor of the developer's revised "Planned Development" project. In her questionnaire responses, she explains why she also voted in favor of the University Outlook building and for the College and King building that will go up on the old Hospitality House site on King Street.

Mizelle is supportive of more affordable housing and seeks new ideas for solutions but explains that it is a complicated problem that will take many years to solve. She believes the "Planned Development" ordinance "is a very helpful tool, not a loophole" and can work under the right circumstances. She explains that the Town cannot contemplate "every single possibility in developing a piece of property to its best and highest use" and that the PD ordinance can help bring new ideas to improve areas for neighborhoods.

MIzelle believes "there has to be a balance of need, neighborhood protections and traffic impact before considering any future student type housing" and says she is opposed to
development in Boone over 4 stories (and limited to 3 stories on King Street) and that she has not voted for any large student housing buildings during her Council term. In fact, Mizelle did vote for University Outlook across from the Convocation Center, for the Marketplace in downtown Boone, and for the Rivers Walk "Planned Development" project at the old Southern States property. Mizelle says she is opposed to approving projects over 4 stories in height: "The Council unanimously approved this limitation in March, 2017 as part of our town regulations in the UDO. Hopefully this problem is fixed." Like other incumbent Council candidates, Mizelle fails to note that under the "Planned Development" ordinance, Council can trade away those regulations in negotiation with a developer.

Regarding sustainability, among other things, Mizelle notes she signed on to a commitment that there be a net zero use of carbon by the year 2050 and says the Town has begun to buy hybrid cars and plans to also commit to electric vehicles as they become available. She would like to see the new Bolick Town property be "built with sustainability in mind."

Mizelle says she will follow the Town Attorney's lead in when to hold public referendums and that the Town can find itself in situations where following its own ordinances may be problematic.

I supported Mizelle for a seat on the Council in 2015 hoping she would be open to seeking new ways of doing business. While I find her personally engaging, Mizelle says she the Council has "been great," that she "is proud of what we've done," and is "proud of her votes." She says, "My votes set the standard for what I believe are a reasonable compromises between good family neighborhoods and student housing needs...A town will die without strong family neighborhoods, schools, shopping, etc. I certainly want to protect that whenever I get a chance to do it." She has had those chances, in fact, and has nonetheless voted in favor of every development project that has come before her and at times against neighborhoods trying to hang on to their quality of life.

Jill Reeves (Democrat):

While Reeves' name remains on the ballot, she pulled out of the race due to health and other reasons. She sent me emails that she endorses Sam Furgiuele and Connie Ulmer for Boone Town Council seats this year.

Connie Ulmer (Democrat): "Connie Ulmer for Boone Town Council" on Facebook

Click here for Ulmer's full questionnaire responses.

Ulmer is originally from Chicago, moved to Boone to teach at ASU about 20 years ago, and retired from the College of Education in the Reading and Special Education Department in 2014. She is seeking her first elective office.

Ulmer says her reason for running is that she wants to give back to her community and wants to help "build our community smartly with an eye towards innovation while preserving a small town feel." Her hopes for Boone are that the Town will learn from its mistakes and listen to and respect opposing voices. Most importantly she wants to work towards encouraging "more family friendly neighborhoods and enhance our town’s quality of life, by working together!"

Ulmer says Boone’s "biggest challenge is staying a small town and progressing as it grows," and she maintains that bigger everything (ie: debt and buildings) do not necessarily lead to quality progress or quality of life. She says the Town needs to step back and think "about what we value the most and then taking action, together. More open conversations with all parties are a start."

Ulmer believes some neighborhoods have been lost to large-scale building developments and that some of these developments are neither efficient nor effective. She says Boone is not alone in having to deal with these problems and that while economic gain is important, larger developments are "taking over" with only profit as their ultimate goal:  "Many people are moving back to Boone for its beauty, its comfort, its serenity, its history and the cohesiveness of family. Were these attributes discussed at the bargaining tables when these developers came?"

Ulmer believes the Town needs to encourage more affordable housing for families and others in Boone, that we should focus on rebuilding instead of new building, and that we should cut back on the number of rent-by-the bedroom developments. Ulmer says there are too many mega complexes being built, and adds, "Building more does not show it is helpful for the town, it just shows that you can do it." She says too many of these developments are already having structural and water problems and that they are simply too large in scale for the town: "building beyond 43 feet could work if they (the buildings) were appropriately placed but not on a main street where no building over 30 feet was even considered. It is just not smart building."

As for the Town's "Planned Development" ordinance, Ulmer says, "This is one of those ideas that sounds good because of the requirement that developers meet with the affected neighborhood. And it perhaps would have been effective had it only been used for large, undeveloped pieces of town property where meeting both zoning and development needs are complex. But in practice, it has allowed developers to skirt community standards like adequate parking, setbacks and landscaping. So I would oppose it as it stands now."

Ulmer says, "a sustainable environment means a lasting environment to me. A sustainable environment is economically, environmentally, structurally, and aesthetically driven.... Sustainable environments create history and or monuments.”  Ulmer supports referendums of the people for large expenditures and believes the Town should follow its own ordinances in public property development.

I do not know Ulmer well, but her network appears large and diverse, and many have contacted me to sing her praises.  Even so, from her questionnaire responses, I believe she will have a strong learning curve early on in her service on the Council. Having said that, she brings much passion, a sense of justice, dedication, and an open mind to the table, all of which I believe are sorely needed at this time.