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VOTER GUIDE: Hendersonville mayor Q&A

Incumbent Barbara Volk, 75, is retired from computer services and is a professional registered parliamentarian. Challenger DJ Harrington, 48, owns a granite countertop fabrication and installation company.

Why are you running for mayor?

Harrington: I feel it’s time for a new perspective, new vision for our city. I have a family here and I want to continue to keep Hendersonville a safe, healthy, and vibrant city for years to come. I have many years in the construction field. Working with others, planning, communication is something I’m accustomed to. I believe my experience will help us do just that, keeping Hendersonville, Hendersonville, for generations to follow.

Volk: Hendersonville continues to face issues related to growth—providing excellent services, traffic congestion, water and sewer, affordable housing—which affect our small-town feel and the quality of life we all enjoy. I believe I have the skills, qualifications, and experience to guide the council in dealing with these challenges.


Current plans call for financing the new parking deck with paid parking on Main Street. Do you favor or oppose that option? If you oppose it, what source of revenue would you favor to meet the debt service for the parking deck?

Volk: I am in favor of the parking deck and putting meters on Main Street. We hear complaints that there is no parking downtown. There is always parking in the Dogwood Lot or on the side streets beyond King and Church. It’s not possible to create more parking spaces on Main. We are building a parking deck one half block off Main. To encourage people to use that asset and our other surface parking lots we will charge less per hour than they will pay on Main. There will still be free parking on the outlying streets.

Harrington: I would like to see Main Street continue to be free parking. If not, we need to have options somewhere that are free. Parking is going to be an issue we’ll have for a long time. We will need to be looking for other areas. One option I’ve been looking into and scratching the surface is a trolley. For instance parking say at Jackson Park and take a trolley to Main Street with 3 or 4 drop off locations. I know Jackson Park may not be the best, especially on weekend, but it’s an idea.


The City Council is considering numerous ideas for development of the Dogwood parking lot. Would you favor a city park there, restarting negotiations with a hotel developer for that property, keeping it as a parking lot or something else?


Harrington: I would not be opposed to restarting negotiations with a hotel developer. I would also continue in those negotiations to add part of the cost of the parking deck.

Volk: With the completion of the new parking deck the Dogwood lot will not be needed for parking. With the Cedars redevelopment and the proposed Courthouse Inn there does not seem to be a need for another hotel downtown. If either of these does not go forward I would again consider selling the lot for a hotel. However, I would prefer to see the property used as community space. Suggestions have included a park, splashpad, year-round farmers market, contemplation area, arts space, and others.


The city faces a severe shortage of affordable housing for working families. What if anything do you think the City Council could do to encourage or incentivize the development of affordable housing?

Volk: Affordable housing in the community is a major issue that can’t be solved by Hendersonville alone. I want to continue working with developers and nonprofits such as Housing Assistance Corporation and Habitat for Humanity to build and manage as many affordable units as possible. Hendersonville can apply for or support others’ applications for housing grants and purchase property which could be used by the nonprofits to build homes. We should also continue providing water and sewer to developments to allow for higher density, which usually allows for lower cost housing.


Harrington: I would like to see ownership. When most think of affordable housing, the thought is of cheap rentals. I want to work on a program to get working folks into their own home. This will have lots of moving parts and lots of people coming together but I feel I am the person to help with that. Helping others own a home is thinking long term, which we need to be doing.


What other priorities would you have for the city if you are elected?

Harrington: Our growth is happening. We have to make sure our foundation is strong, from our roads, to our services we provide. Working with the state DOT on road repair, as some of the roads that run through our City are controlled by them, needs to be addressed. We need to keep our Fire Department, Police Department along with others services such as water and sewer maintenance departments properly funded and supplied to be able to perform. Again we need to look at our foundation and that includes our spending.

Volk: I will continue to be available to and work with all citizens in Hendersonville and surrounding areas. Challenges of growth require looking at the big picture for the City. I want to keep the small-town feel we all love, while supporting development that will keep housing costs reasonable and commercial and industrial in appropriate locations. Municipalities are to provide services and I want ours to be excellent, with employees who are valued and compensated competitively.