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Mountain Xpress Candidate Questionnaire

Basic information

Name: Sage Turner


Occupation: Finance & Project Manager, French Broad Food Co+op

Previous candidacy or offices held: none

Key endorsements (please list no more than five):

Esther Manheimer, current Mayor;

Julie Mayfield, current Councilor and Senate candidate district 49;

Alan Glines, Planning Director, Conover, NC and previous Interim Planning Director, COA;

Jeff Staudinger, Consultant to Asheville Land Trust and 2016 NC Affordable Housing Professional of the Year;

Franzi Charen, Project Equity and Director Asheville Grown

Amount of money raised (Jan 31): $8,600

Top three donors:

Bernard Arghiere, environmental advocate;

Drew Smith, West Asheville business owner;

Barry Bialik, affordable housing builder


Please limit your answers to no more than 80 words per question. We may edit the text for grammar, spelling, clarity and length. Depending on space availability, we may not publish responses to every question asked in our print edition.

What makes Asheville home to you?

It’s a feeling, a sense of belonging, of connection to community and the ways our community lives and breathes and how we care for each other. My family has lived here for 20 years. It’s the only home my son (18) has ever known. It’s where extended family have had their roots for generations. It’s walking down streets and knowing the neighbors, the store owners, and their children. It’s volunteering at events and organizations that work for a better Asheville.

Name three achievable goals you would champion in the next two years.

1. Establish a path to and create 1,000 affordable homes/units by 2025

2. Lift City employee full-time minimum wage to $31,200 ($15/hr, 40 hours/wk)

3. Leverage my role as a community leader and as a city councilor to deepen collaboration between nonprofits, businesses, local governments, and community members to achieve goals around climate resiliency, opportunity gap, and responsible planning.

Which recent City Council budget decision(s) do you disagree with, and what would you have done differently?

Council did not fund needed updates to the UDO, Downtown, and Riverfront Design Guidelines. These documents define how we grow, what can be built, what it looks like, what we prioritize (trees, public spaces), and how we protect our culture. I would have.

Council voted to spend $290,000 on multiple designs for 68 Haywood. I would have requested limiting plans to two designs and a cap of $150k, allocating the remaining 140k to an urban forester and forestry plan.

We also asked readers to tell us what is on their minds this election season. The questions below are based on readers’ suggestions.

How will you as a City Council member help Ashevillians cope with the rising cost of living?

Use my knowledge and experience as the chair of the Affordable Housing Committee and my Masters in Urban Planning to plan and create 1,000 affordable units by 2025. I will strategize responsible locations to preserve green space, limit new infrastructure, and reduce transportation costs, which can cost 25% of income. I will prioritize a wage floor of 31,200 ($15/hr/40hrs), work on solutions for wage compression and retention, and increase efforts for renewables and home weatherization.

How will you balance Asheville's growth while protecting the quality of life for current residents and the city’s unique identity?

Update the UDO to ensure we are building a fiscally, socially, and environmentally sustainable community, which requires identifying strategic growth areas, including downtown, urban centers, and along transit corridors to help protect neighborhoods against demand. Expand infill options to produce incremental growth without overwhelm. Require major projects to provide ground floor activation, ensuring locals don’t lose access and local storefronts. Invest in infrastructure and cultural programs, including functional public art, roads, transit, multimodal upgrades and repairs to our water systems.

What actions would you support for Asheville to fight climate change and meet its 100% renewable energy goal by the established deadline of 2030?

I support updating the UDO, which governs all development, ensuring we are zoned for strategic, fiscally, and environmentally sound growth along transit, downtown, urban centers, and major corridors. I support restoring our tree canopy. I support investing in renewables in ways that exempt low income residents and affordable rents from increased costs. I support aligning green jobs and weatherization with economic opportunity for marginalized residents. I support implementing the transit master plan and modifying fares to increase ridership.

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