Foy, Brown vying for mayor of Waynesville

By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer

The big race to watch in this year’s Waynesville town elections is between Alderman Gavin A. Brown and incumbent Mayor Henry Foy, with Foy vying to keep his office while Brown attempts to unseat him.

The men, who have worked closely together for years on the town board and voted together on a number of important issues, are attempting to differentiate themselves to voters without letting the campaign turn negative.

Foy, a retired architect who has served as the town’s mayor for 16 years, has the benefit of a proven track record. Brown, who is still a practicing attorney, is capitalizing on his leadership style and still-current ties to the local business community.


A different take on alcohol

Though Foy and Brown have voted along the same lines much of the time they have been in office together, there is one issue they fundamentally disagree on — and it may turn out to be a significant difference for voters when the election rolls around.

Foy does not support liquor-by-the drink for Waynesville, Brown does.

Foy has taken a firm stance against liquor by the drink during his tenure. He thinks Waynesville has “gotten along fine without it,” and says the issue didn’t really matter much until developers looking to capitalize on the area around the Dayco site brought it up.

Still, Foy has doubts about how many businesses will actually refuse to come to town because they can’t have liquor by the drink.

“I don’t think we’ll gain more than a couple restaurants, but we lose a lot of control,” Foy said, referring to fact that the ABC Board — rather than the town — will have to regulate the practice.

Brown, on the other hand, believes “this is an issue that needs to be voted on.” He thinks times have changed in Waynesville and the community would now support liquor by the drink.

“I think (having liquor by the drink) is good and better as opposed to bad and worse. I’m in favor of liquor by the drink — I think it will help the business and tourist community,” Brown said.

Brown disagrees with Foy and says some businesses are bypassing Waynesville because it does not have liquor by the drink.

“I know for a fact that certain chains of restaurants will not come here because we don’t have it. It’s going to be necessary that we allow that service to businesses if they choose to go that route,” Brown said.


Agreeing on the watershed

One topic on which Foy and Brown do agree — and that both said will likely play a role in the upcoming election — is the issue of allowing the forest surrounding the town’s watershed to be subjected to forest management practices. Both men voted in support of letting the area be managed, which means some logging could take place.

Foy said he “was very strongly in support of a managed watershed.”

However, the same vote also placed the 8,000-acre watershed in a conservation easement, a relative lock box except for the forest management activities.

“This is a great thing for the watershed, and we’re not going to hurt it. I’d just like for people to be up there and have controlled hikes to see what we have up there — it’s amazing,” Foy said.

Brown agreed: “The facts prove” that it is possible to both maintain the watershed and actively manage it. He pointed to a similar study being conducted in the Cowee area which has demonstrated various techniques for actively managing forests for the past several years.

“It’s not the timber — it’s the water. Anything I can do to make sure we have good water for the next eternity, I will do,” Brown added.

Both Brown and Foy scoffed at the alarmist mentality they feel opponents of managing the watershed have taken. Foy admitted management practices “probably won’t happen even in my next term,” while Brown asked, and then answered, his own retort — “Has there been a tree cut up there yet? No.”

By running for mayor, Brown is leaving his seat on the board of alderman open. Though it has not been officially confirmed, Foy speculated that among the people vying for the seat may be opponents of managing the watershed. Because Caldwell and Moore voted against watershed management, the vote was split 3-2. If another management opponent wins a seat on the town board, that vote could potentially be reversed.

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