Terri Wells Responses to Mountain Xpress County Commission Candidate Questions (Due January 28, 2020)
1. What makes Buncombe County home to you?
As a 9th generation Buncombe County farmer who has an abiding love for this community, its people, its farms and mountains, my roots are deep. After a little over a decade of living and traveling elsewhere, I was drawn back to these mountains, as so many people are, to make a home and serve our community. I care deeply about this place and want to ensure that it continues to be the place we all want to call home.
2. What do you bring to the Board of Commissioners that other candidates don’t?
As a farmer and teacher, I bring values and experience to the commission that no other candidate does. I understand how hard-working and passionate both teachers and farmers are and how committed they are in contributing to our community, in spite of the challenging economic situations they face. I bring a unique combination of strong work ethic, passion for service, honesty, and a track record of responsible stewardship of resources to work on behalf of the people of Buncombe County.
3. What do you see as the greatest specific need for your district compared to the rest of Buncombe County, and how would you propose meeting it?
High quality, high speed, affordable broadband. This is an economic, education, public safety, and health care issue. And we want our younger generations to stay in our communities and thrive; they demand better Internet service. I was aware of the need in our rural communities (Sandy Mush, Ox Creek, Barnardsville), and knew that Leicester needs much better service. However, constituents in Weaverville and Asheville also report inadequate service. We must do better. In 2020, broadband is a basic utility necessity.
4. How will you maintain Buncombe County’s quality of life as the region’s population continues to grow?
I am known for being a good steward and I will implement careful planning and resource management to protect what we love and improve our quality of life. By permitting only the sustainable growth we want and need and conserving our natural assets, we can maintain our character. We must bring people together and have a broad vision that includes strong schools, economic opportunity, improved transportation, high-quality broadband internet, affordable housing, recreational opportunities and conservation of our natural resources.
5. In the wake of the continuing federal corruption investigation, what steps will you take to ensure that county government spending is handled fairly and transparently?
As a Commissioner I would ensure that we provide transparency with our decision-making process, budgets, and spending. The county conducted nationwide searches and hired a new county manager and assistant county managers who are experienced and expecting to be held to high standards. I will use my oversight and budget management experience, and my stewardship and integrity to ensure that our county commission and our county management are accountable to the people we serve — which is everyone in Buncombe County.
6. What actions would you undertake to fight climate change and support the county’s goal of powering all government operations with renewable energy by 2030?
I will bring people together to ensure that we proactively work as a community to mitigate the impacts of climate change. We must have a broad vision. In addition to investing in renewable energy, we need to be good stewards of natural resources that help with carbon sequestration, by conserving large intact forests and by using soil conservation practices. We must assess best management practices in transportation and planning, and provide staff with the tools needed to meet our goals.
Terri Wells Responses to Asheville Citizen Times County Commission Candidate Questionnaire (Due Feb. 14, 2020)
- What role, if any, should the county play in affordable housing?
In order for us to have a sustainable and vibrant community, we need quality affordable housing that meets the needs of our young families, our seniors, teachers, firefighters and many more who serve our community. Yes, our county does have a role to play, and you can count on me to work collaboratively on a comprehensive strategy that, in addition to affordable housing, will include good paying jobs and strong public schools, because those are the components of a sustainable, affordable community.
2. Should the county try to preserve farmland and open natural areas? Why or why not? If so, how?
Yes. My perspective is deeply rooted in my experiences in our farming community. Farmland can provide food, jobs, pollinator habitat, reduce runoff, and mitigate climate impacts. Open spaces can support wildlife, reduce runoff, and mitigate climate impacts. Both maintain the character of this place we love, which is essential to our quality of life. As Ag Advisory Board Vice-Chair, I am proud of our work to conserve family farms. We’ve leveraged $3 million in state and federal funds for conservation-minded farmers. As Commissioner, I’ll be dedicated to preserving family farms, mountains, streams, and open spaces for generations to come.
3. Do you support giving $1 million to the city transit system? Why or why not?
I support working with the city to address the issues of improving the accessibility and efficiency of our public transit system. We must strategically assess what will improve the quality of our system and then address budgeting issues based upon those facts.
4. Do you believe the county still has further to go in improving transparency and oversight in light of the federal corruption investigation? Why or why not?
Yes. As a Commissioner I will ensure that we provide transparency with our decision-making process, budgets, and spending. The county conducted nationwide searches and hired a new county manager and assistant county managers who are experienced and expecting to be held to high standards. I will use my oversight and budget management experience, and my stewardship and integrity, to ensure that our county commission and our county management are accountable to the people we serve — which is everyone in Buncombe County.