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VOTER GUIDE: Board of Commissioners District 1

Although terms expire this year for three of the five members of the Henderson County Board of Commissioners, voters will decide just one seat. The board’s chair and vice chair, Bill Lapsley and Rebecca McCall, were re-elected without opposition.

School Board member and former chair Amy Lynn Holt is hoping to deny District 1 Commissioner Michael Edney a sixth term. The two square off in the Republican primary. No Democrat filed.

An attorney, Edney, 61, and his wife Lisa have two children, Mitch and Megan.

Holt and her husband, Ritch, have four children, Kyle, Christian, Connor and Aliyah Faith, and a granddaughter, Elle, plus “four legged babies” Kahlua and Brandy. They own Champion Comfort Experts, where Holt serves as the major gifts officer.

Why are you running for the Board of Commissioners?

Edney: “Primary among the reasons is my desire to serve and give back to this community. My family roots in Henderson County go back to the late 1700s and throughout the generations many members of my family have been involved and served our county. As a commissioner I have been involved in the many projects and plans which have made Henderson County the best place to work, raise a family and retire. I want to keep a good thing going! We have several projects, such as courthouse and jail expansion, VFW restoration and rail-trail development that are very important to me and I want to see them through.”

Holt: “I am running to represent EVERY resident of Henderson County, regardless of their zip code. Every resident of Henderson County pays taxes and county government must provide equal services whether they live within city, town or village limits or in areas that lie outside those municipalities. We must continue to preserve local farmlands and incentivize farmers to remain in the business. I love our county and want to ensure that my children and their children still have a place they love to call home for generations to come. Growth and expansion are inevitable, but never losing that hometown feel is required.”


Commissioners recently endorsed a proposal to search for 20 acres or more for a soccer park costing up to $14 million. Do you support the proposal?

Holt: “Being outdoors and exercise are key to a child’s development and success. However, the number of soccer players in Henderson County does not in my opinion meet the threshold to justify investing $14 million at the present time. According to the last census, there are over 27,000 children under 18 in Henderson County. Children playing soccer account for less than 3% of that population. That equates to $17,500 per child playing soccer. While I understand these fields could increase participation in soccer, I still do not believe it would meet the level necessary for me to feel comfortable spending that amount of capital on this project.”

Edney: “First, a point of clarification. Commissioners recently endorsed a proposal to search for 20-plus acres of property suitable for the development of a soccer/multipurpose park. Commissioners in no way endorsed the $14 million price tag. I totally support the proposal. I, in fact, am the one who made the motion to begin the search. Again, many reasons to get behind this proposal. We need an improved space for the county recreation youth soccer program. A facility such as what is being discussed can be an economic driver for the local economy by hosting tournaments. A facility such as what is being discussed can be an economic driver for the local economy by hosting tournaments that attract families from around the region who will spend time and money in Henderson County. The park will enhance the overall health of our citizens, reducing the burden on hospitals and medical providers.”

Mr. Edney has advocated for “development of a Countywide Water and Sewer Authority that offers equal rates to all customers regardless of their location,” possibly in collaboration with the city of Asheville, and has proposed construction of a wastewater treatment system “to serve the US Hwy 64 corridor from the eastern continental divide to the county line at Etowah.” For Mr. Edney, how would this work and who would pay for it? For Mrs. Holt, do you favor or oppose a countywide water and sewer system? Why or why not?

Edney: “There are two primary ways local government can influence growth. One is by enacting land use/zoning rules. The other is by designing and planning where and when utilities (water and/or sewer) are made available. Outside cities, it is the County Commission’s role to address growth and development. Currently water-sewer decisions are being made by the elected officials of the city. … The cost to develop and build out a water-sewer system would initially be funds through federal and state grants. The costs for expansion and operations would be paid by the users. Residents in areas of the county where the services isn’t possible would not be expected to offset the costs.”

Holt: “Commissioner Edney would have our services sold out to a city who cannot even manage its own infrastructure. I believe that a comprehensive review of the current system should take place and county and city officials should come together to do what is best for the citizens of Henderson County, not the coffers of government. I believe an expansion of the current water and sewer systems is important to the future growth of Henderson County. However, I could not support another municipality, especially one as disjointed as Asheville, holding control of our county’s water system.”

The county has 13 fire departments and four local law enforcement agencies. What services if any do you think could be consolidated, such as recreation, law enforcement, fire and rescue service, etc.?

Holt: “My initial response is absolutely not. The men and women who serve our county as first responders, firepersons and law enforcement personnel are some of the hardest working people in our county. I would however propose focus groups with local leaders from these agencies to discuss the impact consolidation would potentially have on their agencies. Are there areas of duplicated services? Are we missing services that are offered to some and not others? Are there agencies that could be restructured to better meet the needs of our county’s residents? These are the kinds of questions that must be answered before any talks of consolidation could take place.”

Edney: “I would like to see one consolidated communication-dispatch center be implemented. It could even be done as an independent entity. I believe it would improve the quality and consistency of service and would likely reduce costs.”

What other priorities would you have for Henderson County if you are elected?

Edney: “Continue to work to attract companies that offer high paying jobs and be an asset to the community such as ‘Project Independence’ with 117 jobs. Continue our support of the public schools and BRCC. Continue to support health care through the county-owned Pardee Hospital and projects like the Health Science Center to house Pardee’s state-of-the-art Cancer Center and also serve BRCC and Wingate. Focus on first responders, EMS, Rescue Squad and law enforcement. When you dial 911 in Henderson County you expect — and get — the best! We need to continue our support of the men and women who served in the military!”

Holt: “I would like to work with local municipalities so that there can be a more cohesive plan between the county and municipalities. I have seen firsthand what happens when government works together; and it makes things better for all residents. I realize that every town or city pays their taxes to Henderson County as well as the municipality that they live in. I also would like to work with our first responders and see how they can best be supported. They truly are the heroes of our county, and we depend on them to save lives. I would like to see some incentives for farmers keeping their farmland exactly what it is — farmland.”