It is a rare event for me to publicly endorse a political candidate, much less work for one. There’s a reason why: Most politicians are compromised by their personal ambitions; beholden as they are to a political system that demands conformity to a narrow, moneyed agenda.
It is with great enthusiasm that I support Martin Ramsey’s bid for Asheville mayor. Martin’s campaign represents a pivotal, transcendental moment in local politics for us to move past the obstacles of apathy set in place by those who so often seem to answer to money and career concerns in the end. We see expensive hotels blossom alongside a low-wage workforce who increasingly cannot afford to live here. As Martin himself asks, “Is tourism working for Asheville, or is Asheville working for tourism?”
I find it fundamentally problematic that Martin’s opponent, Vice Mayor Esther Manheimer, has been incapable of participating in some of the most important development decisions facing our city. Her law firm, Van Winkle, has represented — and continues to represent — those who gain the most financially from these projects, such as the McKibbon Hotel Group. That’s not leadership when our would-be mayor can’t weigh in on important community choices. It is a crisis of leadership. Meanwhile, candidate John Miall has essentially disqualified himself with a fast-and-loose meltdown of insulting conduct, demonstrating a lack of civic grace unbecoming of Asheville’s mayor.
We have an incredible opportunity in the form of Martin’s campaign — a campaign born out of conscience rather than career ambition and unacceptable compromise. I agree with his statement that “cynicism and pessimism play into the hands of our enemies. That they’d prefer working people to be quiet, discouraged and isolated,” and that “we must respond by being organized, compassionate, and in it for a long haul.”
This is not about a candidate. This is about a movement. That movement is us. This is a rare moment to make the way things work in our city to better reflect the needs, dreams and aspirations of folks who actually live and work here. On Oct. 8, vote Martin Ramsey for Asheville Mayor!
[The writer is part of Ramsey's campaign staff]