Asheville City Council candidate profile — Keith Young

by David Forbes September 27, 2015

Name: Keith Young

Profession: Deputy Clerk of Superior Court

In up to two words, describe your political affiliation: Democrat, Progressive

In one brief sentence, describe yourself and why you’re running: I am running for city council to help shape the vision of this city’s future growth to include people from all walks of life on both sides of the track.

General questions

These questions are about problems, challenges or topics facing city government and how you would try to deal with them if elected.

1) According to recent studies, Asheville has an extremely low amount of available housing and the city’s currently making national lists as an unaffordable place to live. What steps would you pursue to deal with this issue?

The city needs to explore land banks/trust to make housing permanently affordable for generations to come. Also, we need to work with the county on more projects such as the SECU project that will provide real workforce housing for teachers. A real break in prices that real working class folks can afford. We need to work on the way we are growing as well i.e density, infrastructure improvements, and transit improvements. They all go hand in hand.

2) During the past year, we’ve seen an increasing numbers of concerns raised about de facto racial segregation in Asheville, an issue worsened by the impacts of redlining, racism, urban renewal and the state of public housing. If elected, what specifically would you do to help address this problem?

Opportunity is key. There is a deeper underbody to these questions. That underbody consist of education, culture and political action in the communities at the polls. Local government can only do so much but if we improve infrastructure, transit and work on density issues, while thinking out of the box to get real affordable housing stock on the market we can take some steps forward. Also working to improve the climate for a diverse job market will help. Attracting companies that pay living wage jobs and a workforce educated enough to have them will need to go hand in had.

3) From internal disputes and problems with morale to concerns about racial disparities, many are wondering about the state of the Asheville Police Department. What specific steps do you see as necessary to reform the APD and improve relations with the community?

First we need to make sure APD has a finger on the pulse of the communities it serves the most. Do they know what the communities concerns are? Secondly, follow the plan laid out by the consultants study. Third keep micro management to a minimum or void all together. Let the chief lead the charge on internal disputes!

4) Wages in Asheville are well below the state average and federal data shows pay for many jobs here remains stagnant despite the tourism boom. If elected, what specific steps would you pursue to help boost local wages?

Let’s work with county and state government to attract a diverse group of businesses that will pay a living wage. We don’t want to incentivize ourselves into corporate welfare but we do need to be in the ball game for our citizens to take advantage of any and all opportunities. We can help facilitate good economic growth for everyone. We need to make sure we are in a good position to do so when opportunity arises.These things will take time to incubate. In the meantime preparing our infrastructure is a must. A long term vision will need to be drafted. What does Asheville look like 15-20 years from now, and how do we accomplish these goals.

5) The last city budget estimated the total cost of the city’s infrastructure needs at around $400 million. What steps would you encourage to address this problem, what funding sources would you use and what would the top priorities be?

This discussion needs to happen with the TDA. The increase they just received needs to be on the table.
Yes/No questions

These questions are about specific proposals Council has or may consider, and how you would vote on them. The first word of each answer must be Yes or No. An explanation of one’s position — or an alternative proposal — may follow.

1) A majority of Asheville City Council recently approved increased fines and enforcement to strengthen the ban on short-term rentals (i.e. Airbnb and similar sites) in most areas of the city. Do you support this move?

No…I think we need to go back to drawing board. How can we regulate these rentals in such a manner that will not burden the owner/ or uproot a neighborhood and also provide an alternative funding stream for the city?

2) City staff recently proposed a detailed plan to restrict busking in downtown in three major spots, with specific rules on the numbers of performers and the amount of space they can occupy. Do you support this proposal?

No…again go back to the drawing board. How can we make use of this diverse group of entertainers in such a way that may possibly allow the city some revenue from this stream and still regulate it in a way that is fair to the buskers and business owners…we need to hear everyone’s input and not shut the door on this conversation.

3) Do you support a $12.50 minimum wage for all city of Asheville employees, regardless of classification or status?


4) Will you approve city funds to support the proposal, backed by the city-county African-American Heritage Commission, for a monument on Pack Square marking the contributions and history of Asheville’s black citizens?

Yes. We need to also seek a private philanthropist to help with the project.

5) This year’s city budget included a property tax increase, with a majority of the current Council claiming this was necessary due to revenue changes at the state level. Do you support that increase?

Yes. For now. There may be room in the future to walk these back. We need some work on our general assembly state wide.