WNC-- How exciting! Asheville and Rutherfordton are in two different categories. The competition is nationwide.

There are four categories, a total of 16 towns competing. Each category has 4 places. Be sure to vote! The link is at the end of the article.


Asheville is in the Progress in Public Engagement Category. 

"We are a small city that acts like a town, and our elected officials are part of a culture of accessibility we hope to maintain.

Our city council is reachable directly via an all-council email address, which makes contacting councilors straightforward. Our council members have a history of attentiveness to incoming requests. 

City government advisory committees allow the public to provide direct feedback on specific policy matters, influencing which projects move forward with city staff. 

City council agenda planning is also public, and community engagement is high. Open house in-person meetings are regular events and part of our planning processes. Asheville on Bikes and other local groups host candidate forums during election years. Neighborhood associations each have a “plan on a page,” which creates a pipeline of feedback between neighborhoods and city government."


Rutherfordton is in the Building Better Budgets Category:

Our town values community engagement and encourages the public to participate in the action-planning and annual budget process. We collect community feedback through surveys and public dialogue and parlay it into a two-year action plan. This plan lists the town’s goals and dictates budgetary priorities. This continuous cycle creates budgetary transparency. 

The budget process also uses the action plan to leverage outside grant funds. In 2023, the town leveraged almost $10 million in funding for action plan projects. 

Further, the town’s Citizen’s Academy promotes open government and volunteerism. We currently have four alumni of this program on the planning board and two alumni on the town council, among other boards and commissions.

Cast your vote strongesttown.com


Image Credit: WNCTimes


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