Under the Dome

Buncombe commissioner will challenge Forest

A Buncombe County commissioner, Holly Jones, announced Wednesday she will seek the Democratic nomination to run against incumbent Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, saying she will campaign against the Republican-controlled legislature’s intrusion into city and county responsibilities.

In a statement released Wednesday morning, Jones said the General Assembly’s "constant meddling in local affairs" is what drove her to enter the race.

"As County Commissioner, I’ve seen firsthand the damage these legislators have done to our counties," Jones said. "In 2011, Buncombe became ground zero for their heavy-handed tactics. They’re playing politics while we’re trying to govern."

Redistricting legislative seats, Asheville airport controversies and a struggle over control of Asheville’s water supply are among the issues Jones cites. She also criticized the legislature for cutting budgets and passing the burden of finding money to local government.

"In their ideological zeal, Republican legislators have slashed public education, leaving our schools underfunded and our teachers underpaid," said Jones. "They’ve short-changed our children and our future."

Linda Coleman, a former lawmaker and Wake County commissioner who narrowly lost to Forest in the 2012 election, is also running in next year’s primary election.

Jones served on the Asheville City Council for seven years before moving to the county commission in 2008. She is director of member services for the YWCA USA. She has masters degrees in public health from UNC-Chapel Hill and divinity from Duke University.