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Riddle takes down attack ad over water vote

The Riddle campaign on Friday pulled Asheville Highway signs that attacked Edney over 1995 water vote. The Riddle campaign on Friday pulled Asheville Highway signs that attacked Edney over 1995 water vote.

Henderson County Board of Commissioners candidate Andrew Riddle on Thursday night retreated from his attack on Commissioner Michael Edney over a 1995 Henderson County-Asheville water agreement, saying he had made a mistake in singling out Edney.


During the fourth and last public candidate forum for the Board of Commissioners primary election, Riddle opened his remarks with an apology to Edney and a promise that his campaign would take down signs that accused Edney of selling Mills River water to Asheville.
Riddle has in at least two forum blamed Edney specifically for the 1995 water agreement, which has been a sore point for many Henderson County residents for years. Under the agreement, Henderson County allowed Asheville to tap into the Mills River at the confluence of the French Broad River.
"And I also make an apology," he said. Turning to Edney, he said, "You're a good man, a decent man, you've put your time in and I'm sorry."
Under the 1995 water agreement, Asheville gave the county a 137-acre tract of land on the French Broad River near I-26 that the county would use for a wastewater treatment plant. The county never built the plant, and was obligated under the law the deed the land back to Asheville on July 15 of this year.
Last week the Henderson County Board of Commissioners adopted an agreement that resolves a long-standing dispute over the property. Under the agreement, the property is to be sold and the proceeds used to build a law enforcement training center that Henderson County, Buncombe County, Asheville and other local law agencies can use. The Asheville City Council ratified the agreement on Tuesday night.
Edney said after the forum that he did not know what inspired Riddle's apology.
"I haven't said a word to him" about the sign, he said.
Edney has defended the agreement, which the Board of Commissioners adopted on a 4-1 vote during his second term, saying that water service Asheville brought to the Fletcher-Mills River area had generated $330 million in property appreciation and "I think over a thousand jobs" along the N.C. 280 corridor.
The Riddle campaign on Tuesday erected a Burma-Shave-like series of signs on Asheville Highway near I-26 that said "EDNEY SOLD MILLS RIVER. VOTE RIDDLE COUNTY COMMISSIONER."
Riddle said in post-forum interview Thursday night that no outside influence or comment figured into his decision.
"It was a mistake," he said. "It was a board vote, not a Mike Edney vote. This campaign has been clean and above board."
He said he did not want negative feeling to remain after the election, whatever the outcome. "I have to live in the same town as Mike Edney," he said. "We have to work together."