Your Name:

Charles “CJ” Domingo

Why are you running for Asheville City Council?

I am deeply committed to serving the community that I call home. With my background in leadership, my experience in city operations, and a passion for building a future that works for all Ashevillians, I believe that I can make meaningful changes to improve the lives of folks who contribute to make Asheville so special. By ensuring that we protect our vibrant community, taking care that we retain an inclusive mindset, and making sustainable planning a central tenet of our decision making, we can tackle the challenges Asheville faces and build a foundation that will serve us for decades to come.

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

Repairing, maintaining, and investing in more of the infrastructure which we all rely upon. Restoring public trust in government by implementing standards for better accountability. Responsibly funding and safeguarding core city services to ensure that folks don’t have to wonder if help will be available when they need it. Investing in the people of Asheville to ensure that they can flourish and thrive instead of being priced out by rising inflation and ballooning housing costs.

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 rising cost of rent and home pricing poses a significant challenge for Asheville’s workers. As pointed out, affordability assistance typically would not include restaurant employees. In order to tackle this problem in the short and long term, a multifaceted approach will be required. I will advocate for incentive programs to encourage local landowners to construct an accessory dwelling unit on their property if they agree to a requirement that it only be used for long term rentals. This will allow for a lot of simultaneous development within a wide range of communities and will allow for local landowners to gain an additional line of income. I will also fight for local developments to more sensibly use the available resources in a more equitable, denser set of projects. I will also push to rezone in a way that reflects our ongoing growth and need for more affordability. By working collaboratively with local businesses and stakeholders within the community, we can create resilient solutions that serve all of us.

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? 

I support finding sound ways in which to invest in and improve multimodal transport opportunities around Asheville. This will allow those locals to reduce their transportation costs and will reduce the strain on road infrastructure for everyone.

I will also invest in expanded training and career advancement opportunities, which would not only apply to folks in the food and beverage industry, rewarding them for working in our community, but also will encourage growth in the workforce as a whole, which will allow them to spend more and tip more at local businesses.

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?  

Providing for the safety of all those who live, work, and visit downtown is a high priority for me. I believe in a comprehensive approach which will combine effective law enforcement practices with proactive prevention strategies, tools, and training. I will encourage community policing as well as a more modernized community watch system in order to ensure that we are fostering an atmosphere of security and trust. I will invest in training to guarantee that we have the right kind of responders to face each situation and will seek sufficient compensation to guard against the sort of long-term vacancies with which we’ve had to contend.

What characteristics and experience are you looking for in a new Chief for the Asheville Police Department?

In selecting a new Chief for the Asheville Police Department, I will prioritize a candidate who demonstrates strong leadership skills, effective communication, and a commitment to accountability and transparency. I believe that it is essential for Asheville to have a Chief who understands the diverse needs of our unique community and is committed to building trust while collaborating with residents and stakeholders. Additionally, I will prefer candidates that have experience implementing innovative policing strategies which can foster more inclusive practices within the department. Overall, my goal will be to ensure that the Asheville Police Department will be led by someone who shares our communities values and is dedicated to providing safety and security for all Ashevillians.

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

While I recognize the potential benefits of a Business Improvement District for downtown Asheville, I have some concerns regarding the specifics of how it would be implemented. I would wish to avoid a situation of a larger stakeholder dominating the decision-making process and forming a small fiefdom within downtown. I would want to ensure that any such initiative would prioritize inclusivity and fair representation for all stakeholders.

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

Asheville’s independent restaurant community is a vital part of our city’s culture and economy and there are several ways in which the City Council can support ongoing growth and success. One approach would be to streamline the regulatory process to make it more straightforward to apply and qualify for permits in order to reduce the burden on new and smaller businesses. Additionally, the council can explore assistance and incentive programs to help restaurants to grow around those areas where new housing initiatives will provide nearby customers. Furthermore, I wish to create community outreach programs that will seek to engage neighborhoods of Ashevillians and bring them together to have a face-to-face gathering akin to what we used to have when I was young. I would love to have local, independent restaurants on-board to give them an opportunity to participate in community-building.

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

Thank you for your work to bring together and advocate for restaurant owners and employees. I started my first job working in a small restaurant. I feel that folks who have not worked in independent restaurants may not appreciate the struggles y’all face.