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Experience Counts

Donna is an Experienced Leader, Poised to be Your Next County Commissioner


Donna developed her platform when she ran for office in 2018 and has not changed her values or her reasons for seeking to serve as a county commissioner. Her platform speaks loudly about collaborating to address the county infrastructure needs we are facing now with a plan for the future that reduces our carbon footprint, promotes workforce diversity, supports at least a living wage, provides for educational excellence and meets our challenge of affordable housing.  

Donna is an experienced strategist and successful collaborator and she holds herself accountable.  She has always been willing to roll up her sleeves and stay until the work gets done- recognizing that as a leader, the buck stops with her. Examples of this leadership can be found in the many non-profits she has served as a volunteer and as an employee.

Donna has leadership experience in strategic planning, engaging community in collaborating on successful projects and uniting across political parties to work towards a greater outcome.

What sets Donna apart from her primary opponent is her background spanning over 32 years in Buncombe County in successful strategic planning for growth, and experience in bringing residents from various sectors together to problem solve, collaborate and produce positive, successful outcomes.

Donna Ensley, has been a Buncombe County resident for 32 years working diligently on a long and outstanding career capstoned as the former Chief Development Officer at MANNA FoodBank helping to raise over $40 million for this important community organization during her tenure.  

An experienced, proven leader and professional.Donna earned the 2014 WNC Outstanding Fundraising Professional Fundraiser Award. As a community leader and volunteer she served on numerous boards and as President of the YWCA, PTA, Helpmate, Rotary Club of Asheville, and as a church elder. She is currently serving as a Rotary Assistant Governor. 

Donna has fought for social justice issues her entire life whether it was for racial, and gender equity beginning in the 80’s and 90’s or standing up for folks living in poverty and helping them have access to healthy foods. Hers has been a lifetime commitment not a political foray. And now, she seeks to serve our county as we plan and prepare for our future.

Donna’s Experience Counts.

Donna Ensley ran in the 2018 Buncombe County Commission election. Donna says of this experience, “The 17,500 voters who moved me within 700 votes of the beating an incumbent, inspired me to engage even more deeply in our community after the election. I have continued to work diligently in the past year to create the future that Buncombe County deserves. I want more than anything for all of our children to be able to live, work, and play here as adults.”


Donna Commits to Work Toward Reducing our Carbon Footprint

My platform speaks loudly about collaborating to address the Infrastructure needs we are facing now with a plan for the future.  This absolutely includes planning ways to reduce our carbon footprint through public transportation, investing in renewable energy, preserving our green spaces, adding greenways and education. Specifically my goal when I am serving on the County Commission is to:

  • Invest in renewable energy as a long term strategy.
  • Support public private partnerships such as Energy Savers Network, Asheville Greenworks and others focused on reducing our carbon footprint and preserving green space.
  • Educate our children and youth on the importance of global and local conservation efforts.
  • Educate the public and work with government to conserve resources – cutting down on use of plastics, paper, water.
  • Promote our local food producers, and support increased plant-based diets.
  • Appropriate County land use is critical-  highlighting trees, food production, recreation and for      tourism.   
  • Invest in transportation networks that include greenways, pedestrian and bike friendly roadways.
  • Create transportation hubs as we address infrastructure needs that make public transportation more accessible and reliable throughout the county.


Coordinated Approach to Growth and Development

It all Starts with Infrastructure - Donna has the Background and Experience to Get This Done.


The primary reason I ran for office in 2018 was to engage our County Commission in tackling the big job of strategically addressing our infrastructure needs. This was an issue then and is an even bigger issue today. Since running for office, I have continued to be engaged with this issue by working on the Land of Sky Regional Council’s 5 year Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy. I have provided input and attended workshops to support our County Commission in their efforts to complete a 5-year strategic plan for our county, and I have kept up with what the city plans are as well as the NCDOT long range plans.

What has become more apparent to me is that our County Commission needs to lead the way in providing a coordinated approach for growth and development that includes all sectors. I advocated for a comprehensive plan in 2018 and still do. However, I now believe more than ever we must collaborate with our municipalities, the DOT, businesses and other key funders and players to provide 2-3 top priorities across all sectors that we can commit to funding and solve together.

Interestingly, not only has my primary opponent Parker Sloan picked up on this message, but so has my former opponent Robert Pressley and the 2020 Republican opponent Joe Belcher. I’m glad they all agree that this is an issue that must be addressed. However, what sets me apart is my background in strategic planning for growth and my experience in bringing folks from various sectors together to problem solve, collaborate and produce positive outcomes.

As your county commissioner I will work to update our outdated land use plans so that we set in place a means to require infrastructure first before new development. We must consider the impact on our schools, fire, police, transportation networks as well as the need for more housing. These are big issues that should have been addressed years ago and must be addressed now. 


Donna's New Year's Message


An Important Message from Donna as we ring in 2020

It is with great anticipation we greet 2020 and watch 2019 come to a close. The year ahead promises to be one of the most politically divided years of my life and probably yours. This grieves me for our nation and for the homes, the neighbors, the communities that will find themselves in conflict over the few things they disagree about. Rather than focusing on what unites us, our many and various forms of media usually highlight that which divides.

I have experience bringing people together to find consensus, to collaborate and achieve results for the greater good. As your County Commissioner this is how I will tackle the problems facing our county and find solutions that have lasting impact with benefits all can enjoy.

That is why I believe we must take a deep look at the infrastructure that supports our lives and livelihoods here in Buncombe County. For me this includes our transportation networks and land use planning around them, our public education and how we are serving all our students, our housing and how we can make it affordable for those who live and work and support our economy. We need the infrastructure that will support job growth in all sectors so we are less dependent upon healthcare and tourism and we must proactively protect our environment and the natural resources of clean air and water, mountain views and rolling farmland that make living here so desirable.

These are big challenges that must be addressed as a full community. It is time for our County Commission to take the lead and bring Asheville, and all our municipalities to the table to find the areas we agree upon as most vital to supporting our citizens and our future. I believe it is in building consensus and through collaboration we will find better solutions that will have long lasting and sustainable results.

March 3 will be here soon. To serve our county in 2020 and beyond I need your help NOW. Please sign up to volunteer, please come to my kick-off party on January 15 and pick up a yard sign or bumper sticker to help spread the word, consider helping me by canvassing in your area or representing me at the polls during early voting and election day and of course your financial support is most needed and appreciated.

Like you, I am concerned about our nation, our state and our region, but where I believe I can have the most impact is here at home in Buncombe County. I hope you will support my efforts, however you are able, so that together we can Build a Better Buncombe.

Wishing you and yours a safe and prosperous New Year!



Updates from Donna


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