Four Black Mountain residents will campaign for two seats, while one backs out

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Five candidates are running this fall for two seats on the Black Mountain board of aldermen.

But only four will actively campaign. Jonathan Braden filed on July 20 but decided to back out of the race after the July 21 deadline. “I’m basically backing out, but I can’t get off the list,” he said.

Running are Jeremie Konegni, Matt Robinson, Bob Pauly and Ryan Stone, the town's vice mayor who in September 2013 was appointed to fill a seat vacated by Tim Rayburn and was elected to the board that November.

Stone, appointed vice mayor by the aldermen in December 2015, is running for re-election. The other vacancy was created when incumbent Carlos Showers chose not to run.

Stone believes the current board “still has a lot more to accomplish.”

“We have a good board,” Stone said. “There are certain things we have done really well and definitely things we can improve on.”

Stone said the decrease in the town’s debt and increase in savings are some of the board’s strongest accomplishments in recent years. There are issues that the town can do better on, he said.

"We really have to put people first. and by that I mean we have to figure out how to address growth," he said. "Both from a planning standpoint and communication standpoint."

Stone added he believes it is time to closely consider how to best address growth in the town.

Konegni has been in Buncombe County since 2008 and Black Mountain for a year and a half, he said.

"I bought my first house here," he said. "I went to that emergency meeting about Dobra Tea at the White Horse, and I heard a lot of people complaining about what's going on with the Trestle Building. I felt like there were a lot of complaints but not a lot of people being proactive. It hit me in the middle of that meeting that I may be able run."

Konegni said he's concerned with the pace of development in Black Mountain.

"Included in that is the condition of our infrastructure and whether or not it can handle that growth," he said. "That seems to be a big concern on everyone's mind right now."

Robinson moved back to Black Mountain two years ago, having grown up here and having graduated from Owen High School in 2002. A former Black Mountain police officer, he was motivated to run for the position to address what he views as a lack of recreational opportunities for local children.

"I've wanted to run for a few years," he said. "Really I'm in it for the kids. There isn't a lot here to do for them. I'd like to see us have more camps and things like that. We cater to a lot of retired people and tourists, but kids here are running out of things to do."

Robinson pointed to the popularity of town's summer camp programs as evidence of the need for more kid-friendly programs.

"The camp we have in place is very good. I send my kids there," he said. "But if you're not there on the first day the spots open, then it's booked. That shows right there how bad it's needed here."

Robinson said having more programs for local youth can help them avoid getting involved with drugs, which he believes is a rising problem in town.

"If you get these kids doing something positive they'll grow up to be better citizens," he said.

Pauly filed on the July 21 deadline. The Black Mountain News made several unsuccessful attempts to contact him for this piece.

Braden said he was energized about running for the seat. But after further discussion with his family, he felt that he wouldn’t have the time to devote to a campaign.

“I still want to get more involved in the community,” he said. “And this will make me compelled to get more involved in the future.”

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