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Larry Dodson- Candidate for Buncombe County

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Larry Dodson explains platform

By James Matthews-   “Where are you from? Where were you raised?

I was born in Western Pennsylvania but I spent some time in Los Angeles where I met my wife, Alice. Alice and I wanted to start a family and we knew we didn’t want to do that in LA. We drove across the country and in January of 1988, we came to North Carolina. We knew a few folks in the Chapel Hill area. They told us as soon as they were able, they were moving to the mountains. Alice and I took that advice and came to Buncombe County almost 30 years ago. We fell in love with the area and have been here ever since.

How did your childhood influence your willingness to serve the community?

My parents were each born into large families and they had a large family, too. I was the fourth child of six. Our aunts, uncles and cousins were many and we were all very close. They were firefighters, mechanics, social workers, teachers, and leaders in our community. When I got older, I wanted to embody the qualities I saw in my family­­hard work and dedication­­as a leader here in Buncombe County. Over the last two decades, I’ve built homes with Habitat for Humanity, coached soccer in the community, and raised money for various causes through the Asheville Firefighters Association. Now I want to continue my commitment to service as a County Commissioner.

What’s your professional background?

I was hired by the Asheville Fire Department in 1991. For the past 25 years, I have served on numerous committees and teams, including the City of Asheville’s “Green Team,” which worked to create a plan on reducing the city’s carbon emissions. In 2001, I was promoted to Captain of the Asheville Fire Department where I’ve lead our Training Division for the past several years.

How does this professional background give you an advantage/disadvantage in elected office?

Over the nearly three decades that I have spent as a firefighter, I have demonstrated my capacity for hard work, my ability to build teams, and to work with others. I want to hear everyone’s opinion and find common ground, which is necessary in order to solve any problem.

Tell us about your family? Wife, kids, how long have you been married, etc.?

Alice and I have been married for over 30 years. We have two sons, Dominic and Calum.

What do you love about Buncombe County?

Everything. The people, the mountains. But I especially love the possibility for our future if we work together to address tough issues like creating living wage jobs, building affordable housing, and protecting our rural communities and environment.

What makes you the best candidate for commissioner?

I’m dedicated to serving our community. I’m not an expert on all the issues, but I don’t need to be. The members of our community are experts. They have the lived experience. A County Commissioner needs to listen to their community and serve their needs even when it’s hard to do so. I’m not afraid of advocating for my neighbors. I don’t run into a burning building because it’s easy, I run into that building because it’s the

right thing to do. I will bring the same dedication and service to our county as a Commissioner that I do as a firefighter.

What elected/appointed positions have you held in the community?

In addition to serving as Captain in the Asheville Fire Department, I’m a member of the AFD Dive Team and a PADI certified Open Water Diver. I have been a Cluster Leader and then Precinct Chair for the Buncombe County Democratic Party where I have worked hard to elect democrats up and down the ticket.

What are your core values? What will the community get if they elect you?

I value dedication and hard work but above all, I value empathy. If the voters of District 2 choose to elect me, they will get a County Commissioner who listens to them and is deeply thankful for all of the hard work that goes into winning a campaign. Furthermore, the community will have someone who fully invests in finding solutions to the challenges that working families face every day.

What are your thoughts on traffic issues in North Buncombe, urban growth in Asheville and surrounding areas, public transportation for rural areas?

Asheville is growing and growth is not necessarily bad. We need responsible development, development that balances the preservation of our natural landscapes and provides the infrastructure we need to support families. Public transportation is an important and sustainable resource. Expanding buses in the county would expand opportunity for folks who live in all parts of Buncombe County, especially those in rural areas.

What issues do YOU think are the biggest issues facing this county?

We must prioritize three issues to create opportunity in Buncombe County: jobs, housing, and education. A 2015 Harvard study found that out of all the counties in Western North Carolina, Buncombe County was the worst for providing a way out of poverty for children and their families. There is no single policy that would eliminate poverty, but rather a collection of strategies that must be worked on together. This speaks to one issue: opportunity.

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