What’s Boone’s greatest challenge? Municipal candidates answer

Jake Markland, Reporter

Leading up to the Watauga County 2021 municipal general election Nov. 2, The Appalachian sent each candidate the same questions via email, asking what motivated them to run for their positions and how they plan to tackle other issues. Read about what they believe is Boone’s biggest challenge here.

Tim Futrelle (Mayor)

The preservation of water as a clean, accessible, viable resource. 

Todd Carer (BTC) 

No doubt, it is the lack of access to safe, affordable housing for students, the workforce, low-to-moderate income families, single-income households and people living with a disability. 

Dalton George (BTC)

Municipal growth is the driving force of our town, creating opportunity, building diversity, and improving the overall quality of living for numerous residents; however, rapid growth is also the cause of many problems. Town council cannot, and should not, stop the growth of Boone, but it must manage it effectively. We must ensure that growth encourages beneficial developments, allows for compatibility with existing neighborhoods, and creates housing opportunities available for students, families, and all residents alike.

Now, more than ever, the town council must recruit and appoint qualified residents to guide municipal growth through service on advisory boards. Appointees must be empathetic to the issues faced by struggling residents. We need to expand the duties of the Planning Commission to research long-term solutions and policies to address current growth. We also badly need to increase the budget of the town’s Department of Planning and Inspections.

We must also confront Appalachian State University, their board of trustees, and the Board of Governors as they continue a policy of unsustainable increases in admissions that impact the town. Accountability, transparency and direct communication are lacking between major community stakeholders most affected by the consequences of rapid, unmanageable rental housing complexes. I plan to ensure we put local residents back into local government, rather than those solely driven by profits at the expense of others.

Benjamin Ray (BTC)

Benjamin Ray did not respond to The Appalachian’s questions. 

Virginia Roseman (BTC) 

Improving relations with the County Commission is our most important challenge.  The county and the town have shared concerns that we can come together on.  This relationship between the commissioners and the councillors has to be mended and each must be willing to go back to the table–to best benefit all–to make necessary changes to the distribution of the sales tax that we collect.

Eric Wooldridge (BTC)

Affordable housing and growth management/sustainability. I address both issues within this questionnaire. 

Eric Brown (BTC)

My priorities are to see objectives of the council met and the agenda of the community heard and considered.  Pedestrian life in Boone should be a friendly experience.  Not everyone wants to enjoy the high country with a car. I see keeping Boone friendly to pedestrians as an attainable vision for the future. 

Christy Cook (BTC)

Whether it be our town or our country – I would like to see less division and more non-partisan efforts to move us forward in a positive way. I’m just suggesting that we “give each other the benefit of the doubt” every once and awhile. Choosing to assume the best in others will help the community and others affect positive change. 

Becca Nenow (BTC)

I think the greatest challenge the Town of Boone is facing right now is that the town is being commodified, and the wealth gap that we’ve known about for years on the national level is now being experienced on a smaller scale in our town. We have wealthy property owners and stakeholders whose actions prove their interest is not in the people, nature or town but is increasing their own wealth. The future organization of Boone will continue to cater toward the wants of the wealthy while diminishing the needs of everyone else unless we are active about interfering with their process.

Edie Tugman (BTC) 

Edie Tugman did not respond to The Appalachian’s questions.