2018 may not be a presidential election year, but midterm elections are just around the corner and, especially on the local level, are arguably the most important for voters’ everyday lives. One of the offices up for election this year is that of County Commissioner, responsible for administering the county government. It’s a critical position, handling everything from taxes to public services and infrastructure, and Amanda Edwards, who will be on the ballot November sixth, hopes to make a major impact on the community if elected.
Edwards, who moved in Asheville in the mid-90s, has made her career in nonprofit leadership. She has worked with the Literacy Council of Buncombe County and the Western North Carolina branch of the American Red Cross and currently acts as the Director of College Advancement for AB Tech Community College. In each of these positions, she has sought to make positive progress and worked with a goal of “leaving it better than I found it.”
This is a philosophy that she hopes to carry into politics as she runs for County Commission. “I have a skill set,” she says, “and I know how to go into organizations that are struggling and [leave] them better than I found them. I want to work hard to really restore trust and accountability, and those two words have been the hallmark of my campaign since I announced in January.”
This, she thinks, is a piece often missing from local politics – particularly in Buncombe County, where recent years have brought troubling missteps in local government, Edwards feels that it’s important to help residents feel that they can trust and rely upon their government as a whole and the individuals of whom it is comprised. “I think there’s so much negativity surrounding local politics and government right now, that the more that we can have conversations and take the party out of it and really at the end of the day be able to deliver effective, efficient services is what a Commissioner should be doing, and what I want to do.”
Those services cover a wide range of issues, including one of the most prominent in our community – that of affordable housing. Edwards sees the path to creating affordable housing in Asheville as one of accountability and commitment. She advocates for working with organizations whose success has been proven, and for linking transparency with accountability – by publishing specific goals, she believes, the government and the organizations with which it works can be held accountable for accomplishing the goals that they lay out in pursuit of a sustainable and affordable housing supply.
Another major concern in Asheville is that of short-term rentals. Edwards sees a genuine concern about houses being used for vacation rentals when the city currently has an affordable housing crisis and is committed to listening to all sides of community opinion on the issue. “As a Commissioner, it’s really important to listen to the community, and to hear all sides, and to ask really hard questions and have those conversations before moving forward and making any decisions. … I’m really interested to hear and learn more as we move forward.” She feels that the bigger, overarching concern is affordable housing and that any decisions made about short-term rentals should take that into account as a primary concern.
On the whole, Edwards has come to recognize the importance of community engagement and strives to help make decisions that truly benefit the individuals affected by them. This goal is a product of her commitment to the people of Buncombe County – “What I…have learned is how much I care about Buncombe County, how much I care about the people that live here, and for me, having served our community in so many ways directly impacting people, this is another way for me to do that on a really large scale.”
Elections will be held on November 6th. To find out more about Edwards, visit ElectAmandaEdwards.org, or email her at [email protected].