Opinion: Considering Asheville, Buncombe candidates, nothing will change in 2024 elections (2024)

In early November, Weaverville Mayor Patrick Fitzsimmons posted a picture on social media of a brick wall on which someone had scribbled “nothing changes if nothing changes.” I’ve thought of those words often in the weeks since.

When I get up in the morning, I start the coffee, walk the dog, Wordle, and read the papers. I start with the Asheville Citizen Times and then I move on to the Washington Post and New York Times. Looking at the news recently, I realize how simply and eloquently the five-word phrase “nothing changes if nothing changes” applies to the issues we face. It comes to mind when I read about the stalemate in Ukraine, the war between Israel and Hamas and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, multiple daily shooting deaths across America, migrants at the border, North Carolina's drop in life expectancy, and the host of local problems in search of solutions. I could write an essay on each one, but the Citizen Times won’t give me an entire section of the paper, so I’ll focus on our local challenges.

I’ve read articles recently on a business closing most of its locations citing Asheville’s “social decline” and “changing market conditions;” a letter to Asheville’s Mayor and City Council signed by more than three dozen local business owners saying they are “pushed to a point of despair” and pleading for more emphasis on safety downtown; the lack of affordable housing; local wages lagging behind national and state averages; county expenses outpacing revenue; homelessness; the approval of new housing developments, apartments and hotels; shootings and shooting deaths; and the degradation of Mission Hospital under HCA, to name a few.

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If there were easy solutions for these challenges then anyone could solve them, but there are no easy solutions and not everyone is equipped to solve them. Complex and seemingly intractable problems require bold, competent, innovative and nimble leadership. And no one is going to bat a thousand when they’re facing difficult policy decisions. There will be swings and misses, and those who step up to the plate deserve the space to strikeout from time to time provided they’re willing to admit mistakes and make course corrections when it becomes apparent a chosen path isn’t working. The quid for the quo is that we deserve leaders who don’t just sit back and study problems ad infinitum, they step up and work to solve them.

The filing period to run in the November 2024 election is closed. What’s apparent from the slate of local candidates is that the status quo will be preserved. That’s not to say that any of the people who are willing to step up to the plate are bad people, they’re not, but it’s clear that locally no sea change is coming. Sure, there will be some new faces in some seats, but in most cases, it will just be a move from one seat to another on the same dais or the person selected to fill the seat will be the anointed choice of the person currently in it. That’s not change, and as the message on the wall says, “nothing changes if nothing changes.”

To see an example of voters opting for change over the status quo, look at Woodfin. Since 2021, voters in Woodfin chose a new mayor, replaced all the members of the town council, and elected new trustees to oversee the sanitary water and sewer district. At a Woodfin candidate event in 2021, an incumbent candidate pledged to do X, Y and Z if reelected. An audience member pointed out that the incumbent had years in office to do X, Y and Z, and didn’t. That’s not to denigrate the years of service by the incumbents who were replaced, but it shows that Woodfin voters decided that change rather than the status quo was the best path for their town to move forward. They recognized that nothing changes if nothing changes.

Voters in Asheville and Buncombe County who are satisfied with the status quo are in luck. The 2024 election is not going to result in a significant change in course like the change that took place in Woodfin. Voters deserve real choices, not incumbents swapping seats or handing the reins over to friends or relatives they chose to take their places. The only way things will ever change is for things to change. Maybe next time they will.

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Opinion: Considering Asheville, Buncombe candidates, nothing will change in 2024 elections (1)

Moe Davis is a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, attorney, former administrative law judge, and former N.C. 11th Congressional District candidate. He is currently writing a historical fiction novel set in Western North Carolina.

This article originally appeared on Asheville Citizen Times: Asheville Buncombe 2024 candidates will preserve status quo

Opinion: Considering Asheville, Buncombe candidates, nothing will change in 2024 elections (2024)


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