Newly elected Black Mountain officials speak on what's next for the town

Karrigan Monk
Black Mountain News
Town council candidate Alice Berry speaks to the crowd at the Sept. 21 candidate forum.

After the election in November, Black Mountain will have a new mayor in Mike Sobol and a new council member in Alice Berry. Council member Bill Christy will return for a new term.

Berry said she is looking forward to standing by her campaign promises in the work she will do as a new council member.

“I’ll be looking to apply those values that I ran on,” Berry said. “Sustainable development, environmental stewardship and equitable solutions are some of the things that we already know are in the works right now.”

Both Berry and Christy said they are eager to get the employee pay study back and work with the other council members on making any changes that will be needed based on the results.

“I anticipate in January we’ll be getting back the employee pay study to look at all of the town employee’s wages and making sure that we’re in line with what folks are being paid and that they’re being fairly compensated,” Berry said.

More:Mike Sobol headed back to office after win in Black Mountain mayoral race

Berry and Christy are also both looking forward to the completion of the parks and recreation study. This study allowed for public input, something Berry said she appreciates as everything the town does should be “driven by the community.”

Christy said he also appreciates having public input, especially in the parks and recreation study.

“That’s a really useful way to try to get public input and to figure out how we spend our limited resources,” Christy said. “Sometimes people seem to think we have unlimited resources, but we really don’t.”

Sobol said recreation for Black Mountain's children is near the top of his list of most important things to address in the town.

Town council incumbent Bill Christy speaks to the crowd at the Sept. 21 candidate forum.

Christy said the town still has some funds left over from the American Rescue Plan Act that he hopes to use to fund roll-out trash and recycling cans, but said other grants may fund this project.

For Sobol, the topic of greenways is his "favorite" issue facing the town.

"We've got to get these greenways finished," Sobol said. "I started them with a friend of mine back in 1994. That's back before most people even knew what the word meant. Now we've got other cities that have already accomplished theirs."

Mayoral candidate Mike Sobol speaks to the crowd at the Sept. 21 candidate forum.

In the long term, Berry said she is concerned about the rising costs of living in Black Mountain. She said she wants to keep the town affordable.

“Our bigger picture concerns are about affordability,” Berry said. “Having housing that allows folks to live and work in Black Mountain, sustaining our local economy and also looking to the future.”

Christy said the town continues to grow and the council needs to figure out how to account for that growth in policies and decisions being made.

“I think the issue there is coming to terms to understand what has happened,” Christy said. “We’ve become a destination that people like to go to and it seems like we’re crowded all the time.”

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Berry said she wants to work on these issues with not only the Town Council, but with the residents of Black Mountain as well.

“It’s been such a joy to connect with so many different people and hear their ideas and find a way to plug in that energy and excitement and creativity to the challenges and opportunities that we have,” Berry said. “I’m really looking forward to working with other council members to see how we can utilize all the resources that we already have and really highlight and expand upon those as well.”

Christy said he is looking forward to continuing working with town staff and the other council members.

“It will be fun to bring Alice on and start working with her as well,” Christy said. “We’re having a change with the mayor and so figuring out how the new mayor works with the council will be interesting.”