Interview with Mark CatesBy
Election season is upon us, and I’m offering Asheville City Council candidates the opportunity to interact with Scrutiny Hooligans readers. Each candidate received the same set of questions, and I posted their responses here unedited. Our first guest was Marc Hunt. He was followed by Chris Pelly, TJ Thomasson, Lael Gray, and Bill Russell. This is the last in this introductory interview series. Keep an eye out for Round Two – coming soon. Today’s guest is Mark Cates:
Q. How long have you been a ScruHoo reader? Tell us how much you love this blog.
As an engineer and business owner, incorporating many different perspectives is crucial. Doing so will provide a unique insight and allow a person to see things as they are and not how we think they should be. This is part of who I am. Given that fact, I try to get a wide variety of news each morning, and ScruHoo has been a part of that process for a few years. It has always fascinated me to read the centrist/left posts of many of the ScruHoo readers, they are a great foil to other voices on the blog.
Q. You’re too kind, too kind. So why are you running for Asheville City Council?
I love Asheville. I love its culture, its history, its natural beauty, its people and the unlimited potential that surrounds us every day. When it came time to decide where my son should be raised I was fortunate enough to be able to choose any city in the country… and I chose Asheville.
Today Asheville is facing some serious challenges. Thousands of our neighbors are out of work. Those lucky enough to have a job are often underemployed and those of us who have the ability to employ others are struggling to keep our employees paid, let alone merely keeping the doors open and the lights on. But the fact remains, more than 17,000 of our neighbors are on unemployment and we have no idea how many more are out of work but not being counted. This is the most important issue facing Asheville, hands down.
Our city has done a fantastic job of supporting tourism industry, but now we face the challenge of the unintended consequence: a seasonal economy. Simply put, when the tourists aren’t around, neither are the jobs or the money to put food on the table for many of our citizens. The city council has the power to change this. Fortunately, Asheville’s greatest characteristic, culture, is still strong. We must protect this culture as we move forward.
So I’m running–not only to provide for a future in the city I love for my son’s generation–but to bring my skill set and knowledge about creating jobs and healthy companies to a position that will meld Asheville’s unique culture with a sustainable economic future we can all enjoy.
Q. What’s your skill set?
For nearly 20 years I’ve been consulting in the areas of technology and business development. I grew up in a family business (we installed glass) and now help the entire industry by helping other companies make better uses of technology, helping ‘mom and pop’ companies provide health care to their employees, and helping them to streamline their business operations. Outside of the glass industry, I consult on how companies can use technology to save time and money. I am also a trained aerospace engineer and have had the opportunity to work on satellites and navigation systems for national and international projects. Being trained in aerospace engineering was a great experience, and it led to a method of thinking about business development that has been extremely successful throughout the years.
Q. Any recent council decisions that you’d like to comment about?
I’ve been enjoying the meetings this year and have to say, any time the city council talks about supporting local businesses to create a more robust economy I think it’s great. Our local businesses put food on the table for our neighbors. With Asheville being the seventh worst place in the nation for hunger, making sure that businesses can provide quality jobs is important. So it’s not about specific decisions per se, but about the times when the members of the city council are taking up the banner of economic development, helping businesses do better and ultimately addressing the needs of Asheville’s most important asset: her people.
Q. What do you do when you’re not working?
When I’m not spending time with my son, my time is usually spent on my main hobby: continuing education on finance, economics, job creation, economic development and looking at what other cities are doing to accomplish these goals. If I can get in a little yoga and gardening with my neighbors during the week, that’s great too.
Q. Who’s your favorite Beatle?
Paul McCartney is a left-handed guitar player. I am a left-handed guitar player. As a lefty, it’s great to be inspired by someone of such talent.
Q. Challenge: In 25-words or less, sum up your goals for a term on City Council.
To merge Asheville’s unique culture with a sustainable plan to diversify our local economy and set our citizens on a path to quality jobs.