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HVL CAMPAIGN UPDATE: Candidates mix it up

Jeff Collis speaks during a campaign forum. Jeff Collis speaks during a campaign forum.

A Lightning clearinghouse of political announcements, campaign statements and candidate comments on the current Hendersonville City Council and mayoral election.



Collis, Hall trade charges

Jeff Collis said in a Facebook posting that two current council candidates favor local real estate developer Jim Hall as a partner for the Grey Hosiery Mill. Collis showed photos of dilapidated property that Hall owns.

"I think the residents need to be aware that the owner of these dilapidated properties is one vote away from being given the Grey Hosiery Mill Building for a condo project," Collis said in a Facebook posting. "Do you think he deserves to be GIVEN/not sold a taxpayer owned $1.2 million dollar property? Two current council members believe he does! He said he would work to remove those of us who turned him down....WAKE UP HENDERSONVILLE...TIME FOR ACTION!"

Collis posted photos of property Hall and his partnership own on Jack Street, Fleming Street, Greenville Highway and Locust Street.

"My development partnership is staying the hell out of the way" of proposed mill job, Hall said. "It is not the place to enter into a development that is a public-private development when you have split government and when you have someone as antagonistic as Jeff Collis has been towards me. I can't think about that until after the election."

HallPropertyCouncilman Jeff Collis posted a photo of one of Jim Hall's properties.Collis's implication that he has "some significant role in the campaign of Ron Stephens and (council candidate) Jeff Miller is absolutely false," Hall said. "My involvement is to put up signs on all the property that our partnership owns; there's 17 of them, and they are not all rundown dilapidated properties, for which we pay $75,000 a year in city and county taxes ... I have not contributed to their campaigns and I am not an adviser."

The properties are in transition to commercial and currently for sale, he said.

Collis said he assumed Miller would support Hall's mill proposal because the developer supports Miller.

"I've never talked to Jeff Miller about the project," he said. "I don't know if Jeff supports it. I just know his signs are all over (Hall's) property ... I know Ron supports his project 100 percent. I just know Jim Hall has said his mission is to put people on City Council that would support his project."

Miller said Collis incorrectly included him among the potential votes for Hall's proposal to redevelop the mill. Hall, the owner of Investors Realty Group, was one of the partners in a proposal to turn the mill into residential condos. Council instead, in a 3-2 vote, chose a proposal from a Richmond, Va., developer to develop the building for use by Wingate University. Stephens and Steve Caraker voted for the Hall project.

"I don't know the details at all about the different options that were discussed about the mill," Miller said. "If that comes up I'll do my homework but you can be assured that just because they're my friend — and I do consider Jim Hall a friend — they will get no more consideration than any other one.

"For him to make these accusations I guess is pure desperation on his part," he said of Collis's suggestion that candidates made a deal to support Hall's proposal.

Cops endorse Smith, Andermann

The Mountain Chapter of the North Carolina Police Benevolent Association has endorsed Hendersonville City Council incumbent Jerry Smith and Guri Andermann.
"These candidates had an understanding of the issues important to our membership and a willingness to work with us to improve and promote the local and state law enforcement profession," said Brandon McGaha, Mountain Chapter president and a Hendersonville police sergeant.

Stephens rebuts Collis's charge on tall buildings

Councilman and mayoral candidate Ron Stephens, currently a candidate for Mayor of Hendersonville, has issued the following response to a Facebook posting by Councilman and candidate for re-election, Jeff Collis:
"It is too bad that one candidate for City Council has lowered the campaign with an attack on me using information that is not true," Stephens said.
Here's Collis's statements and Stephens' response:
Collis Facebook posting: "In 2005 I fought to save the City from a ... (developer) who proposed a high rise apartment in the middle of Historic Hendersonville. We saw then Mayor Neihoff and Council members Stephens singing his praises. Thank goodness for residents and Mayor Volk for fighting with me. In the end, the CROOK left town (owing plenty of money), our City was saved, and we now know the will of the majority. BEWARE HIS CRONIES ARE BACK WANTING TO DISMANTLE THE CITY IN THE UPCOMING ELECTION. Vote vote vote!"
Stephens response: "First, I was not on City Council, nor was Fred Neihoff still Mayor, when the "high rise condo building" was approved.
"Second, I have never sung the praises of the gentleman who was trying to develop the condo building. I was only introduced to him during an event at the Copper Crest Inn that he owned and operated. I never met or visited with him after that.
"Third, I never supported the 'high condos' for several reasons. In addition to the height of the building not being appropriate for Historic Hendersonville, the developer was asking for several variances; e.g. there was no sidewalk on the King Street side, there was only one entrance, so the trash cans had to be next to the building entrance; there was a lack of enough parking; etc.
"Also, if Mr. Collis knows who the 'CRONIES' are who want to dismantle the city in the upcoming election, he should name them.
"There are many important issues in this election that need to be addressed. Hopefully, Mr. Collis will return to those issues and stop attacking others based on false information."

During the 2006 tall building controversy, the council voted 3-2 to allow a five-story development originally called the Sunflower and then the Carolina Grande. Voting in favor were Mayor Greg Newman and council members Bill O'Cain and Jon Laughter. Voting no were Collis and council member Barbara Volk, who is now mayor.

Collis to PEP: Release your newsletters

Hendersonville City Council member Jeff Collis, under fire as antibusiness in a heated city election campaign, challenged the Partnership for Economic Progress to release its newsletters for the last six months.In a news release that he emailed to media outlets on Wednesday, Collis said he had come under fire as antibusiness. That's not so, he said, citing his work with business groups. And he challenged Larry Rogers, PEP's director, to release the newsletters that he sends to PEP members.

Rogers did not respond to a phone message seeking comment on Collis's demand.

Here is Collis's statement:

"The truth is serving on Hendersonville City Council has allowed me to work with the Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development, Hendersonville Chamber of Commerce, and the Hendersonville Merchants association on various issues and I pride the working relationship I have with each of their members. As a member of City Council, my responsibility is to strike a balance between the safety and well being of the residents and the health and prosperity of businesses when setting City policy. I take this responsibility seriously.

"I believe that the majority of the businesses in the City and County that we affect by policy know I study the issues, make myself available, and am not afraid to make sometimes tough decisions. I am always honest and I don't believe in telling anything but the truth to those I represent. I am dedicated to those who play by the rules, work hard, and try to make the community better for everyone. As we are seeing so many signs of economic rebound, I believe there is no room for spin and behind the scenes antics while trying to encourage a healthy economy and business environment.


"The business organizations that I support all have web pages and produce multiple news letters available to the public with information on what the organizations missions are and what they are currently working on. I would like to put up a challenge to one lobbying group Partnership for Economic Progress. This organization has endorsed Jeff Miller for City Council and Ron Stephens for Mayor. I would request, not only as a City Council Member, but as a resident of Hendersonville, that the Executive Director of Partnership for Economic Progress Larry Rogers provide to the media, as the other business groups mentioned above do, copies of the newsletters provided to his membership for the last 6 months. With many of PEP members providing very large campaign contributions in this years City election, I believe it will serve the entire citizenry to see what business ideas PEP promotes and make them very clear to everyone."