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It looks like Hendersonville may have a mayor's race.
Jeff Miller, the longtime local business owner, founder of HonorAir and politically connected activist in many areas of the city and county, said he's strongly considering a run for mayor of Hendersonville. If he enters the race, he could mount a formidable challenge to incumbent Mayor Barbara Volk, who filed for re-election on Friday.
"I'm just concerned about the debt and some of their spending habits and some of the water department charges that are really running off good businesses," Miller said Monday. If he runs, he promises to launch a strong pro-business campaign. Together with Henderson County, which he said had adopted pro-business policies, Hendersonville can do more to attract business and provide affordable public services, he said.
He said he had looked at the initial system fees that the city charges new businesses and thought they were excessively high. Miller will have numerous allies in the business community in attacking the water charges, which city officials say represent a proportionate charge based on water usage by a large customer like a restaurant or a carwash. Business leaders, including the Partnership for Economic Progress director Larry Rogers, say the fees are so high they make Hendersonville non-competitive for national retailers considering the Hendersonville or South Buncombe area.
Miller, 58, ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2010 as the Republican nominee. He has been a political adviser to the 2012 winner, Republican Mark Meadows, and to state Sen. Tom Apodaca, the Hendersonville Republican who became a high-ranking Senate leader when Republicans took control of that chamber in 2010.
"I think elections should be more than a confirmation hearing," Miller said. "It's tough to get people to run for these city and county seats because they're thankless positions and they're time-consuming."