Food was on the table Oct. 30 at the forum for Asheville City Council and mayoral candidates — both literally, with complimentary refreshments from Gypsy Queen Cuisine, and figuratively. Hosted by the Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council, Bountiful Cities and Youth Empowered Solutions, the forum at Lenoir-Rhyne University attracted a sizable crowd eager to hear the candidates’ thoughts on food policy and security.
The topic is particularly timely given council’s recent revisiting of the Food Action Plan, first approved in 2013. Developed in cooperation with the ABFPC and Bountiful Cities, the plan directs the city to promote healthy food access and food sovereignty through changes to regulations, funding allocation and community partnerships. Council’s Planning & Economic Development Committee reviewed the new plan Oct. 17, with final approval by the full Council slated for Tuesday, Nov. 14.
Four questions were posed by moderators Ameena Batada, associate professor of health and wellness at UNC Asheville, and Crystal Guevara-Alday of the YES! youth staff. Following these prepared topics, the candidates were asked two questions from the audience. Each candidate received two minutes to answer each question.
In attendance were all of the Asheville City Council candidates: incumbent Gwen Wisler; minority economic development professional Dee Williams; financial adviser Rich Lee; community organizer Sheneika Smith; municipal budget consultant Vijay Kapoor; and piano teacher/bartender Kim Roney. Mayor Esther Manheimer was also present, but the chair designated for her opponent, waiter Martin Ramsey, sat vacant throughout the evening.