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Caraker and two challengers announce City Council candidacies

Jennifer Hensley Jennifer Hensley

A month before filing opens for city elections, an incumbent and two challengers have announced their plans to run for the Hendersonville City Council.

Saying he wants to continue his focus on Seventh Avenue revitalization, the Grey Hosiery Mill project and greenways, Council member Steve Caraker announced his intention to seek a fourth term on the council. The two challengers are both young moms and business owners who say they would bring a fresh voice to the council.

Council members Caraker and Ron Stephens are up for re-election this year. The filing period for city elections is July 5-19. Candidates can live anywhere in the city and all seats are elected at large by all city voters.

Jennifer Hensley

Jennifer Hensley, a chiropractor and mother of two who has been active in volunteer and board service, says she would be a voice for young families and for small business owners.

"I've been wanting to do this for several years," she said. "I feel like I bring a lot to the table. I needed to be prepared and ready."

A resident of the West Side Historic District, Hensley, 40, said she supports several initiatives the council has adopted.

"I'm a huge fan of greenways," she said. She is a member of the county Parks and Recreation Board, which helped to guide a greenway master plan. "They're safe for kids. We're an aging community and they're really into exercise... I want to keep it affordable to live here. I want to keep it a great place for my kids."

She said she would work to encourage small business growth.

"A lot of my friends are small business owners but they don't get to vote in city elections," she said. "I want to be their voice."

Along with Jeff Miller, Hensley and another challenger, Lyndsey Simpson, would add two more downtown area business owners on the board if they were elected. Her practice, Well-Adjusted Chiropractic, Acupuncture and Massage, is on Bearcat Boulevard across from Hendersonville High School. Simpson owns a graphics firm with offices in the old Federal Building on Fourth Avenue West.

"I feel like I can do this," Hensley said. "I feel like I can do it responsibly and I can do it well."

Here is Hensley's announcement:

"Giving back to my community has always been a priority of mine. While growing up, I held a strong interest in student government and community service. Upon moving to Hendersonville in 2003, I was immediately impressed by our local leaders and the impact they make in our community. It was then that I knew I wanted to contribute to our community as a public servant.   Our incredible community has offered numerous opportunities to prepare me as a member of our Council. I am ready to fully understand, support, and acknowledge our city's residents and their diverse needs. 

For the past 10 years, I have been volunteering and serving on many local boards.

"I am actively serving on The Henderson County Parks and Recreation Board, the Child Fatality and Protection Board, Henderson County Greenway Expansion Committee, and I previously served on the Hendersonville Environmental Sustainability Board. I've been honored this past year to be the Chair of The Henderson County Social Services Board.  In addition to community service, I am proud to be a wife to my amazing, supportive husband Kevin; a mom to the best kids anyone could ask for, Shelby and Enzo; and I am a successful chiropractor and small business owner here in our wonderful City of Hendersonville.  

"My love for Hendersonville is why I have chosen to run for City Council. I will continue the path of thoughtful growth that our local leaders have forged. I believe in focusing on our future and giving our great citizens a community in which to thrive. I will prioritize providing support for public safety, recreation, and healthy lifestyle opportunities. I will strive to solidify our infrastructure in order to support local businesses, thus providing jobs and creating more opportunities for affordable housing. "These elements allow all city residents an instilled sense of pride in their community.
In addition to being a Hendersonville small business owner, I'm a Hendersonville homeowner and current resident. I am a payer of city taxes. I can assure you that I will be a responsible steward of taxpayers’ money. I will do my best to listen to the needs of Hendersonville residents; and vow to serve and represent you in the best way possible. 
"How can you support my candidacy?  If you live in the City of Hendersonville, take the time to contact me so I may answer any and all questions you may have about how I can prove myself as the strongest candidate for City Council and earn your vote. For those outside of the city or county, I would appreciate your prayers, encouraging words, and social media support. Thank you for this opportunity to prove myself to you as the best candidate for Hendersonville's City Council."

Lyndsey Simpson

Saying that the makeup of the City Council does not reflect the changing demographics of the city, Lindsey Simpson announced her candidacy for the board.

LyndseySimpsonLyndsey Simpson“I don’t feel like the younger families are represented. With more young families moving into our city it is time for a more diverse city council in roder to make the best decsiions to move us forward,” she said. “There’s a lot of young families moving here. I just don’t see anybody that has a young family in our city politics.”

A supporter of downtown, she serves on the board of Hands On! Children’s Museum. She and her husband, Tony, have a son, Cole, who will turn 7 in August. He is a second grader at Hendersonville. The family moved from St. Augustine, Florida, three years ago. Simpson owns LS Creative, a graphic design firm with offices downtown in the Old Federal Building.

“When we first moved here, I said to my husband our downtown looks like if ‘Better Homes & Gardens’ made a city. It is the cutest downtown I think I’ve ever seen," she said. "Whenever we moved here we kind of assumed that we would be in Asheville all the time. I think as a family we’ve been to Asheville probably twice. We spend most of our time down here.”

The city's growth will require changes that need to be carefully planned.

"Hendersonville was this ‘best kept secret’ in a lot of ways for the people that have lived here and, both fortunately and unfortunately that best kept secret has gotten out,"  she said. "My feeling on it is that no matter what we do, people are going to be moving here, the community is going to grow and we can do two different things. One is we can not push through some of these improvements that need to be made and we’re going to end up having to be reactive. That would make me concerned that we would actually lose our small-town feel. But if we take pro-active steps in accommodating the growth that we’re going to be seeing, then I think we can ensure we can keep our small town feel that we all love so much about Hendersonville.”

After growing up in Titusville, Florida, Simpson, 32, received a B.A. in Graphic Design from Flagler College, in St. Augustine. President of Hands On! Children's Museum, she is also active in the Henderson County Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis Service First Committee, Hendersonville Elementary School and the YMCA's fundraising campaign. She is a graduate of the 2019 classes of the United Way's Rising Leaders program and Vision Henderson County.


Steve Caraker

A former county building inspector who is now a manager for a plumbing contractor, Caraker got into city politics when he was appointed to and later led the Historic Preservation Commission. He was first elected in 2007 in the aftermath of a citizen uprising over a proposed high-rise condo development downtown. SteveCaraker2015Steve Caraker.He has been aggressive in pushing for Seventh Avenue redevelopment and the rehabilitation of the Grey Mill for apartments and has supported greenways and the independence of the city water and sewer system. He currently represents the city on the French Broad River MPO, Henderson County Transportation Advisory Board, the Mills River Partnership, Hendersonville Water and Sewer Advisory Board and the Seventh Avenue Advisory Committee and serves on the board of the Fireman’s Relief Fund.


"I have decided to try to continue my public service with the City of Hendersonville for one more term," he said in an announcement. "While a great deal has been accomplished in the past twelve years, there are some things out there, near and dear to me that remain incomplete.

"I would like to continue to guide the revitalization efforts of the 7th Ave. District, and complete the task of transforming The Grey’s Hosiery Mill, continue to grow the area’s Greenway systems in the future. Traffic issues remain a significant challenge here, and the ongoing efforts to gain cooperation of local governing bodies in the best interests of all citizens of Henderson County remains a paramount interest."

"I have served for quite a few years now. When I relocated to Hendersonville 20 some years ago, I felt that I had finally 'Come Home.' You will not find a more passionate advocate for this City and this county than myself. I’m very proud of what I’ve been a part of in this City and would like your support to continue to keep Hendersonville the special place it is to live, work and play."