Twice-elected alderman steps aside to make room for new leadership

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Buncombe County's general election is nearly four months away, but the Black Mountain Board of Aldermen is assured of having at least one new member once the November results are in.

Carlos Showers, elected to the board in 2009 and re-elected in 2013, announced July 10 he would not seek a third term.

Candidate filing for municipal offices opened at noon July 7 and ends July 21. Showers, who served on the town’s recreation commission for nearly a decade before he was elected alderman, said stepping aside leaves room for “new and younger leadership for the town.”

“We have some good and intelligent young folks in town who can bring some fresh ideas and vision to the board,” he said in a statement. “All over this nation citizens are mobilizing to bring a new order to their communities, and Black Mountain should be included.”

A native of Mobile, Alabama, Showers moved to Western North Carolina in 1974 to attend Mars Hill College (now Mars Hill University). He and wife Sheila moved to Black Mountain in 1984. He worked nearly three decades at the Swannanoa Valley Youth Development Center before it closed in 2011.

Showers made an unsuccessful run for the board in 1995. A decade later, in 2005, he ran for mayor and received 641 votes in a loss to Will Kennedy, who passed away a less than a year into his term.

Four years later as one of five candidates vying for two seats, Showers became the second African American to win an alderman's seat in Black Mountain (in 1991, John Ben Hamilton, who passed away in 2010, was the first African American elected to the board).

“That shows that people had trust and belief in me,” Showers said during a recent interview. “Being a minority in that position hopefully set an example for the kids in the community.”

His 2009 run was encouraged by his friend and mentor, the late Lib Harper, who served on several boards in Buncombe County and Black Mountain.

“Lib was very active in the town,” Showers said. “We used to talk about things, and we spoke about minority representation. I used to kind of push her to run, but she didn’t want that kind of notoriety.”

As a non-native, Showers was challenged by campaigning.

“Any time you run for office and you’re not from the area, there can be apprehension from people who are from the area,” he said. “I just tried to convince people that Carlos was Carlos and I wasn’t trying to represent one specific group. I got people to understand that I wanted to treat everyone fairly.”

His election in 2009 indicated that voters wanted a change in representation, Showers believes.

“I think there were people at the time who felt like they weren’t always being represented,” he said. “And I’ve always felt like they just thought it was time to give me a shot to see what I could do.”

During his two terms on the board Showers has been involved in controversial topics impacting the town. In 2011, he voted against selling the town square property and in favor of designating the property for a park. Earlier that year, he faced a death threat and attempts at intimidation when he moved to make the entire clubhouse at the Black Mountain Golf Course open to the public, he said. He still stands behind his votes.

More recently he opposed the elimination of compensation for elected officials in the town. The board of aldermen voted June 12 to give up their pay so they could fund a new public works position in town.

“It was good to be compensated for my time,” Showers said. “The money I received didn’t amount to much, but I would use it to pay bills and I would also use it to make donations to the Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry and other community organizations. It was kind of a way to give back to the people who put me where I was.”

Showers has no plans to return to politics in the future and instead wants to spend more time with his wife, three children and eight grandchildren.

“Time isn’t promised to anyone, so I think this is the right time for me to step aside,” he said. “But I think I’m leaving the town in better shape than I found it.”

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