Your Name: As appears on ballot: Roberto (Bo) Hess, but you can call me Bo.

Why are you running for Asheville City Council?

I am running for Asheville City Council because our community needs representation that truly
understands the daily challenges and aspirations of its working-class citizens. My previous
experience as a server and my extensive experience as a social worker, therapist, addiction
specialist, law enforcement trainer, professor, and community advocate has equipped me with a
deep understanding of Asheville’s diverse needs. I engage closely with our residents every day,
striving to find common ground and develop solutions that lead to tangible, positive outcomes.
My background in social work not only gives me insight into the complex issues our city faces
but also instills in me a strong commitment of service and collaboration. I am passionate
about leveraging my skills and experiences to help Asheville navigate the challenges ahead,
ensuring that our decisions at the council table are informed, compassionate, and effective.
Running for City Council is an opportunity for me to contribute to Asheville’s growth and
resilience, making it a city that uplifts every resident.

If elected, what are your top three priorities for Asheville?

If elected to Asheville City Council, my top priorities will reflect the urgent needs and
aspirations of our community:
1. Affordability and Housing: I am dedicated to tackling the housing crisis by improving
affordability and expanding access to diverse housing options. Ensuring every resident can find

a safe, affordable place to call home is essential for a thriving Asheville.
2. Community Safety and Well-being: My campaign is committed to enhancing safety
across our communities through comprehensive strategies. This includes addressing mental
health, addiction, and homelessness with the aim of building supportive, resilient
neighborhoods.
3. Infrastructure and Accessibility: I will focus on fortifying Asheville’s critical infrastructure,
including repairing roads and enhancing parks. Promoting multi-modal
forms of transportation is key to creating a more connected and sustainable city.
By working collaboratively, we can address these priorities effectively, making Asheville
a city that not only grows but thrives, ensuring the well-being of all residents.

Fair market rate for rental housing increased 78% in five years in the Asheville area
(according to a recent article in the Citizen-Times). Most independent restaurant
employees don’t meet the eligibility requirements for affordable housing, what strategies
and incentives will you use to increase the stock of workforce housing?

The staggering 78% increase in Asheville’s rental housing market over five years demands
immediate action. My strategy to address this crisis involves a multi-faceted approach that
prioritizes the development of workforce housing and ensures that those who contribute to
our city’s vibrancy can afford to live here. Key initiatives will include:

•Partnerships for Housing: Collaborating with local, state, and federal partners to
expand the availability of workforce housing.
•Flexible Housing Policies: Engaging with developers to modify income requirements
and offering subsidies for deposits and applications to make housing more accessible.
•Non-Discriminatory Rent Vouchers: Implementing blind rent voucher systems to
prevent discrimination by apartment managers.
•Strengthened Eviction Protections: Enhancing policies to protect residents from
eviction, securing their housing stability.
•Wage Improvements: Advocating for increased wages across the city to improve
overall affordability for workers.
•Enhanced Transportation: Innovating our multimodal transportation network to reduce
the reliance on personal vehicles, decreasing the cost of living. •Repurposing Existing
Structures: Converting current buildings into affordable housing units to avoid over-
concentrating density in single neighborhoods.
Together, these strategies aim to make Asheville a city where everyone, especially those
serving in our vital independent restaurant industry, can afford to live and thrive.

The cost of and availability of housing, coupled with Asheville/Buncombe County’s high
cost of living in other areas, is making it difficult for food and beverage employees to live
in the City of Asheville and/or Buncombe County. Aside from increased workforce
housing, how will you assist workers with cost of living affordability? 

To assist food and beverage employees with the high cost of living in
Asheville/Buncombe County, my approach encompasses a variety of strategies aimed at
reducing living expenses and improving quality of life for workers. Initiatives include:
•Expanding Public Transportation: Enhance public transportation to offer free or
subsidized services for workers, reducing the need for personal vehicle use and parking
expenses.
•Dedicated Parking: Provide dedicated parking spots for city workers, along with a work
card system for free or discounted parking, easing the burden of parking costs.
•Supporting Workers’ Rights: Advocate for the right to organize, ensuring food and
beverage employees can fight for better wages and working conditions.
•Improving Access to Services: Increase access to mental health and addiction
services, supporting the well-being of our workforce.
•Enhancing Safety and Security: Implement measures to ensure the safety of workers,
especially those working late hours or on weekends.
By addressing these areas, we can create a more affordable and supportive environment for
the hardworking individuals who are the backbone of Asheville’s vibrancy. Electing Bo Hess for
Asheville City Council means committing to a future where every resident, including our valued
food and beverage employees, can thrive in Asheville.

Safety for employees has been a top concern for businesses in recent years. What
approach would you take to ensure safety of employees and all citizens? What
characteristics and experience are you looking for in a new Chief for the Asheville Police
Department? 

For ensuring the safety of employees and all citizens, my approach focuses on a holistic
and multifaceted strategy. It includes:
1.Supporting and Staffing First Responders: Ensure first responders are well-
supported, adequately staffed, and deployed strategically across Asheville to respond
promptly to emergencies.
2. Enhancing Safety Infrastructure: Implement safer speed limits, increase street
lighting, and install police call boxes. Presence of first responders will be increased to
address aggression, assaults, robberies, and fights effectively.
3. Addressing Homelessness Empathetically: Pursue novel and humane approaches
to address homelessness, focusing on programs that assist individuals in becoming
productive members of society, thereby contributing to overall safety.
Regarding the new Chief of the Asheville Police Department, I am looking for:
•Local Experience and Understanding: A candidate from Asheville with a deep
understanding of the community, having served as a long-standing officer within the Asheville
Police Department.
•Cultural Awareness: Someone who has experienced the department’s cultural
shifts and aligns with a local vision for policing.
•Openness and Collaboration: A leader open to feedback, willing to engage with the
community and work collaboratively with community partners to enhance public safety.
These criteria are essential for a police chief who can effectively navigate the complexities
of modern policing while fostering trust and cooperation between the police force and the
community it serves.

Do you support a Business Improvement District (BID) for the downtown Asheville area?
Why or why not?

I am committed to enhancing the services and environment for businesses in downtown
Asheville, whether through a Business Improvement District (BID) or other means. My support
for a BID or any similar initiative hinges on ensuring meaningful involvement and buy-in from
the business owners, stakeholders, and the broader community affected by such policies.
Critical to my support is the composition of the BID’s governing board, which I believe should
include at least one community member who is not a business owner, to ensure a diverse
range of perspectives. Furthermore, the implementation of any BID must be carried out
equitably, with any private security or policing adhering strictly to the values and standards of
the Asheville community.
While I am open to exploring the potential benefits of a BID, it is essential that we proceed
with caution and thorough consideration, taking into account the concerns and aspirations of
all parties involved. My priority remains the sustainable and inclusive improvement of our
business district, aligning with Asheville’s values and the well-being of its citizens.

In what other ways can Asheville City Council support the local independent restaurant
community?

To support the local independent restaurant community, Asheville City Council can take
multifaceted actions that address safety, business innovation, worker support, and
affordability. Here’s how:
1. Enhancing Downtown Safety: Prioritize making downtown areas safer for customers
and employees alike, fostering a welcoming atmosphere that encourages dining out and
socializing.
2. Encouraging Business Innovation: Simplify the process for starting and running
a business in Asheville. Provide resources and support for restaurant owners to innovate,
whether through culinary offerings, service models, or sustainable practices.
3. Supporting Workers: Advocate for policies that support restaurant workers,
including fair wages, benefits, and opportunities for professional development. Ensure
workers in the restaurant industry can afford to live in the city they serve, thereby strengthening the local economy.
4. Improving Infrastructure: Invest in infrastructure improvements that benefit
restaurants, such as better transportation options for customers and employees, and utilities
that meet the needs of a bustling food service industry.
5. Ensuring Affordability: Work on making Asheville more affordable for everyone,
focusing on housing and living costs to ensure that restaurant employees can live comfortably
within the community they enrich.

By taking these steps, Asheville City Council can help create an environment where
independent restaurants not only survive but thrive, contributing to the city’s reputation as a
culinary destination and supporting the local economy.

Anything you’d like to share with our local restaurant workforce?

To the heart and soul of Asheville’s restaurant community—our cherished servers, kitchen
staff, hosts, maintenance and janitorial crews, chefs, and business owners—I want you to
know that your hard work, dedication, and passion for your livelihood are deeply
appreciated. Food is not just a vital part of Asheville’s culture; it’s a significant part of my life
too. Having spent over a decade working in various restaurants, right here in Asheville while
pursuing my degrees, I’ve experienced firsthand the challenges and joys of the restaurant
industry.

Those years taught me the immense hard work, commitment, and camaraderie that define this
industry. Working in restaurants is more than a job; it’s a unique experience that forges lasting
memories and friendships. I carry those lessons and values with me, and they inform my
approach to supporting our restaurant community.

As we strive to create the Asheville we all deserve—an Asheville that remembers and honors
its roots—I pledge to ensure that the needs, concerns, and well-being of our food and
beverage workers are a priority on the city council. You take care of us through your service
and culinary artistry; it’s time we take care of you by ensuring you have the support and
resources needed to thrive. Together, we can rekindle the spirit of the Asheville we cherish,
making it a place where the restaurant community and all its members thrive.