How will the Board of Aldermen candidates affect Black Mountain?
BLACK MOUNTAIN - Ryan Stone will have two new board members to work with once Doug Hay and Pam King are sworn in during the Board of Aldermen’s Dec. 14 meeting.
Hay and King will be taking seats held by Jennifer Willet and vice mayor Maggie Tuttle. It is possible that, once the pair attend their first meeting, a new majority will be present with the board.
Previous votes, including a recent 1-4 decision to deny a rezoning proposal and an Aug. 10 4-1 vote for the appointments of Larry Harris and Archie Pertiller Jr. to mayor and alderman, respectively, feature Stone as the lone vote against a four-seat majority.
Stone, who has said that he wants to work toward redefining language in the town’s charter, shares common interests with both Hay and King. He says he recognizes how his views are different from those currently on the board.
“Unfortunately it has been that way for a while,” he said. “It’s not a personal thing between me and any of the other board members, it’s just a disagreement about how we think government should be run. I think that’s one of the things that was an underlying issue throughout this campaign.”
Harris endorsed candidates Tonia Holderman, Willet and Pertiller for the board. Willet and Holderman finished fourth and fifth in voting, respectively, with Willet losing her reelection bid.
Public concern following the Pertiller and Harris appointments and Don Collins’ resignation as mayor expressed a need for added transparency with the board.
A Sept. 21 online forum featuring candidates Hay, King, Pertiller and Matthew Turner featured a discussion about whether the town should hold town halls to inform and listen to residents, reshape how the board makes appointments and how aldermen are available to the public.
Stone said that these concerns and discussions led to the Nov. 3 vote to elect Hay, King and Pertiller.
“It brought a lot to light and really gave a focal point for people to focus on what they didn’t think was correct or in the best interest of public business,” Stone said. “And they addressed it as clearly as they could and they showed it at the ballot box.”
Should the board decide to continue the discussion of town charter amendments or an added ordinance to define appointed official term lengths, it would be held by a majority of board members who believe change should be made.
This is complemented by additional decisions, including two Nov. 9 votes to rezone Black Mountain properties for allowing higher-density development, where a majority would be influential in shaping the town’s future.
Stone said that he is “for exploring anything that we can do to increase public input,” but that he “(hasn’t) discussed it with anybody.”
“I think when you take an oath to serve on one of these boards that you certainly say you’re going to do your best, and that includes making yourself available whenever for public business,” Stone said. “I’m happy to try to accommodate it.”
To better accommodate residents, Pertiller said that he would accept phone calls from residents at any time of day.
Additional concerns raised by Holderman and Turner are rising rental property prices, public safety and how the board handles votes during regularly scheduled meetings. Hay, King and Pertiller added that the town should complete its greenway project and develop rainwater infrastructure.
If Black Mountain were to handle votes with regard to these topics, a Stone-Hay-King coalition could control the board’s decision.
Turner said during the Sept. 21 forum that the board has handled most votes outside of public view, adding that “the back-door stuff that has gone on, it’s legal, but I think as a leader of the community we can’t have it anymore.”
Results from the election reflected a concern for public input.
“I think the citizens spoke pretty clearly,” Stone said. “They wanted a different path and did not want to continue in the mode in which we were going. I look forward to seeing what’s next.”