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County Commission race left winners and losers

Michael Edney and Tim Griffin share a laugh during a Chamber of Commerce forum on April 23. Michael Edney and Tim Griffin share a laugh during a Chamber of Commerce forum on April 23.

A script vs. experience
Asked how come he won, Edney responded with an old cliché: "I got the most votes."
Edney faced a sustained attack from challenger Andrew Riddle over his support for the controversial water agreement with the city of Asheville.
Riddle, who resigned as chair of the Republican Party to run for the board, had big ideas — he called for a new countywide strategic plan and wanted to create a new school advisory committee and make schools here the best in the state. He seemed to have a script for everything. To the delight of conservative audiences, he quoted Milton Friedman: "If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there'd be a shortage of sand."
More than the other candidates, he was skilled at appealing directly to audiences. Asked about the county's healthy fund balance, Riddle turned to the audience and exclaimed, "This is your money, folks," and promised to return cash to their purses in a tax cut.
Edney said all that was fine but not relevant to what he tried to do.
"I've always felt like elections were sort of like a ballgame," he said. "You play your game and you sort of don't worry about the other side. Some things you have to react to but I mostly tried to educate voters on what we were doing and why we're in great shape and that there really is no reason to make a change."
As for the election season deal between the Board of Commissioners and the city of Asheville to settle a 20-year-old dispute over Asheville's access to Mills River water, Edney said factors other than the election led to the agreement. Under the agreement, announced with much fanfare two weeks before the election, Henderson and Buncombe counties and the city of Asheville pledged to cooperate to build a firing range and law enforcement training center.
"People have been trying to resolve that for 12 years," Edney said. "It's just a matter of the circumstances." Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer "is fairly new. She didn't have the baggage that others have had, and the firing range issue came up and it gave us an opportunity."
"I look at my precinct numbers," he added. "I've always been strong in the rural areas and that stayed true and I picked up more in the urban areas than four years ago (when he upset three-term incumbent Bill Moyer by 33 votes). I think my base held and some people that may have voted for Moyer voted for me," he said. "That's why we got over 50 percent in a three-way race. Given that the sitting Republican chair steps down to try to knock me off, I think it's a vindication of what I'm doing. Just the fact that he was the sitting chair gave him some credibility regardless of any other reason. If you look at Mr. Corn's numbers, he took from my base."
One issue that seemed to have the potential to be a sleeper in all three Board of Commissioners races was the Flat Rock Playhouse. Griffin said the county's support for the Playhouse — which he called a bailout — was a catalyst that got him into the race. Edney defended his support of the Playhouse and said he never worried that an opponent would successfully use it against him.
"That was never a consideration," he said. "It was the right thing to do. The Playhouse is a staple of our community. It drives tourism, drives the retirement community and to some extent it drives the industrial base by increasing the quality of life. It was right thing to do. You can't really play politics with any decision. I've supported it and I'll continue to support it. They have money in the budget this year."