UPDATED: May 3 Letters to the Editor

Black Mountain News
letters to the editor

She's voting for Patrick Fitzsimmons for commissioner

I am writing in support of Democratic candidate Patrick Fitzsimmons for Buncombe County Commissioner in District 2 in the May 8 primary election. Here's why:

He is a man of high ethical standards, a refreshing voice dedicated to rebuilding trust in the commission with strong transparency and tenaciousness. He is concerned about and wants to change the county's outdated zoning standards that are inadequate to meet the present onslaught of development. 

He is pro-jobs, having served as executive director of Mountain BizWorks, a nonprofit that helps entrepreneurs learn how to start and develop successful business, and in fact has helped create over 700 jobs and launch over 100 locally owned businesses.

He has served on the Weaverville Town Council since 2015. He brings extensive managerial experience to the job, and he knows how government and business work. 

Jill Jones

Black Mountain

Clara Richardson was right about Black Mountain

Wendell Begley's article quoting Clara Richardson' s 1957 letter to the editor expressing her love for "welcoming" Black Mountain (BMN April 12) prompted this letter.

In 1994, I retired as a pastor in Florida, and my wife Nancy and I moved to our newly purchased home in Black Mountain. Prior to moving to Florida, we had raised our family in New Jersey, where I served as a pastor for 20 years. As retirement approached, we decided we didn't want to live in Florida year-round, and we had no idea where our family would eventually settle. So we decided on Black Mountain, where we had spent some delightful vacations, as our "first" retirement home. 

The only person we knew in Black Mountain was Gay Fox, who had sold us our home. But we had lots of energy, and Nancy and I soon became involved in a multitude of organizations, from the Old Depot, to the Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry, The Black Mountain Presbyterian Church, Rotary, McCALL, Warren Wilson College, and the list goes on.

What we discovered, as had Mrs. Richardson, was a welcoming community where strangers soon became friends. We spent 12 very happy years in Black Mountain. 

However, by 2006 our family had settled back in New Jersey, and they and we knew we needed to be closer to them as we aged. That year we moved to a retirement community on the edge of Princeton, minutes from family. It was the right move at the right time and life here has been very good.

But we often boast to our New Jersey friends about Black Mountain, that delightful little community with all its wonderful people. We came as outsiders, and we left with a multitude of friends. May it always be the welcoming community that we experienced. 

David E. Mulford 
Skillman, N.J.

Why wasn't the district attorney at the forum?

With reference to the election for district attorney, why wouldn't current DA Todd Williams participate in The Asheville Citizen Times/Blue Ridge Radio Forum?

Seems like a sitting DA would, one, be eager to do so and, two, feel an obligation to do so.           

Bill McGuire

Black Mountain

(Editor's note: The Black Mountain News reached out to Todd Williams for response, which he provides below.)

District attorney responds to letter

Thank you for the opportunity to respond. During the course of this primary campaign, I have participated in numerous candidate forums, given numerous unscripted interviews to WLOS, WWNC 570AM, BPR news, AshevilleFM, WPVM, The Asheville Citizen Times, The Urban News, and The Mountain Xpress. I have aggregated many of these interviews on my website,

In addition to these I also participated in a moderated debate-style forum Thursday, April 19. That event was hosted by the Buncombe County Bar, the professional association for lawyers, and moderated by Bar President-Elect James Kilbourne. On April 3, I notified the Citizen Times of that forum, to allow ACT to coordinate live-stream or other timely coverage.

All lawyers must comply with ethical rules and regulations issued by the State Bar. A prosecutor must comply with these rules and also comply with special rules for DAs. This limits my ability to correct the record when my opponent misstates it with regard to any pending criminal matter.

A DA must not make public comment about pending matters, to ensure procedural due process. It is important to preserve the goals of justice while also delivering transparency - without forfeiting either. For this reason I agreed to participate in a forum moderated by a lawyer who is well-aware of the ethical limitations placed on me as a district attorney and my inability to correct the record when attacked by my opponent.

The Asheville Citizen Times published its coverage of the forum on Sunday, April 22 (search for "Buncombe County DA candidates discuss issues in public forum"). 

Todd M. Williams

Buncombe County District Attorney


Ben Scales campaign responds to Todd Williams letter

Because (Buncombe County district attorney Todd) Williams has refused to participate in any public forum, including those requested by The Asheville Citizen Times and BPR, NAACP, League of Women Voters, the African American Caucus, Indivisible Asheville/WNC and others, the Ben Scales campaign ensured that the Citizen Times was aware of the bar forum on April 19 and urged them to have a reporter present.

They also managed a livestream of the forum which is available online in full on the campaign Facebook page, as well as WPVM who additionally provided a live stream. The Scales campaign prioritizes transparency and accessibility, thus it was a priority to make this single forum that the sitting DA had agreed to participate in as openly available for all to watch as possible. 

Ashley McDermott

Media contact, Ben Scales campaign

(Editor's note: The Black Mountain News received this letter May 3 and posted it here on that date so that the Scales campaign's response was available before the May 8 primary. Williams and Scales are running in the May 8 Democratic primary for Buncombe County District Attorney. The letter is scheduled to run in the print edition of The Black Mountain News on May 10.)