ASHEVILLE — Elizabeth Putnam will replace Leah Wong Ashburn on the board of the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority after being appointed by Buncombe County Commissioners on November 15.
Ashburn, who is the chairman and chief executive of Highland Brewing, has served two consecutive terms on the board, the maximum allowed by TDA bylaws. Commissioners interviewed seven candidates for the position before voting at the Nov. 15 meeting for Putnam, who is a real estate agent with Mosaic Community Lifestyle Realty.
“I’m honored to represent the community I serve,” Putnam told the Citizen Times. “I have a lot to learn and I can’t wait to get started.”
Putnam garnered support from four of the six commissioners present, with Newman, Al Whitesides, Amanda Edwards and Parker Sloan supporting her. Terri Wells and Robert Pressley endorsed two other candidates. Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara was not at the meeting.
“I appreciate everyone who applied and congratulations to Elizabeth. She will be the new appointee representing the short-term rental position on the board,” said chairman Brownie Newman.
Interviewees were chosen in part to own vacation rentals, and Putnam said during her interview that she had a “lucrative” rental in downtown Asheville. As a realtor, she said she would bring to the board insight into not only the vacation rental community, but also people moving to and within Buncombe County, if appointed.
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“I never wanted to be on a board,” she said in her interview, but when the offer hit her inbox, she was intrigued.
As a third-generation Asheville resident, Putnam told commissioners she doesn’t quite understand where TDA funds go, and neither do many county residents. If nominated, Putnam said she would like to publicize everything the TDA does and what its money will fund, but without knowing what tools the council has, she currently has no plan on how. to do.
Asked by Newman if she thinks the “explosion” in vacation rentals is contributing to the affordable housing crisis, Putnam said she thinks cash-bought homes, not vacation rentals, were the biggest contributing factor. the root of affordable housing problems in the county.
The county has enough hotels, she said, and instead of building more, residents should be encouraged to provide “hotel-like” accommodation in their own homes, keeping the money in the house. region, and not in the “pockets of hotel companies”.
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Sustainable, non-exponential growth was a common thread between all the candidates interviewed. Putnam said she supports using dollars from the TDA’s Tourism Product Development Fund, where a third of TDA’s revenue now goes, to support affordable housing development and other tourism projects. infrastructure in the county.
According to his profile on the Mosaic website, Putnam received a bachelor’s degree from Appalachian State University and a master’s degree from Western Carolina University. She worked in the mental health field as a licensed counselor and in administrative health care before becoming a real estate agent, but changed careers due to “changes in the field”.
Since switching careers, she has been one of Asheville’s Top 100 Real Estate Market Producers for six straight years and, as of 2021, has closed over 50 transactions and achieved over $24 million in sales. , depending on the profile.
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The TDA Board of Directors is made up of 11 volunteers, four of whom are appointed by the Asheville City Council, four by the Buncombe County Commission, and one by the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce. A Buncombe County Commissioner, Pressley, and City Council Member, Sandra Kilgore, are also non-voting ex-officio members.
The next board meeting will be November 30 at 9 a.m. on the fourth floor of 1 Haywood St. in Asheville. An agenda will be posted on the TDA website 48 hours prior to the meeting.
Christian Smith is the general reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times. Questions or comments? Contact him at RCSmith@gannett.com or 828-274-2222.