Pubdate: Tue, 01 Nov 2005
Source: Asheville Citizen-Times (NC)
Copyright: 2005 Asheville Citizen-Times
Author: Angie Newsome, Staff Writer


ASHEVILLE -- Asheville's vice mayor's liquid voice, mostly even 
temperament, classic blue suit and scholarly glasses may not be the uniform 
of a passionate public servant.

Carl Mumpower can be temperamental. The 52-year-old can cajole.

But he's dogged in his devotion to his practice and to the city, a family 
member said. He has, to the praise and consternation of voters, made 
himself a mediator on council. And he brought what he calls a conservative 
voice and balanced approach to a position he called a lot of hard work, 
sometimes not fun, but an honor just the same.

"I am burning inside," he said. "There is a lot of energy in there."

Indeed, the Western North Carolina native has made fighting the city's 
problems with hard drugs his signature issue. It hasn't been without risk. 
Political cartoonists have poked fun at his efforts. People approach him on 
the street and criticize his drug-fighting stance.

"I get a good bit of heat for it," he said. "But all you've got to do is go 
over to public housing and watch the little old ladies who are afraid and 
talk to them, or see the kids playing ball right below a bunch of thugs 
dealing drugs. And you can renew yourself with that. I know I'm right.

"I don't know everything about how to fix it, but I know I'm right that it 
needs to be fixed."

Indeed, he has earned respect among many Asheville voters, even those who 
disagree with him or are lukewarm to his leadership style.

"He's a clever man," said Peter Gentling, one of Mumpower's neighbors who 
said he would likely support more pro-neighborhood candidates. "He's picked 
up this drug business as an opening to obtain interest in his candidacy."

Others admire Mumpower's stance and personality, including Mumpower's 
neighbor Helen Hoehne, who described him as sincere and kind.

"What he says, he means," she said.

But even a week away from the Nov. 8 election, Mumpower said, quoting 
President Reagan, that he struggles with a "crisis of confidence" in his 
political work, which includes serving as chairman of the Asheville Drug 
Commission, For Our Kids and the Memorial Stadium Restoration Committee.

"I don't enjoy the confidence in myself and in my ability to do what I need 
to do," he said. "I don't enjoy the confidence that I think a lot of people 
do in politics. It's a struggle for me. I keep pushing."

Perhaps it reflects the circuitous way he came to local politics, a move 
that surprised his daughter, Kristen Lewis, because he was so involved with 
his counseling practice. He started his private practice in 1978.

"He just cares a lot about other people," she said. "I look up to him. I 
hope that I can be as good to people as he is."

And the road to his second run for Asheville City Council is a long way 
from the boy Mumpower described himself to be -- a "noodlehead 18-year-old" 
who, while serving in the Vietnam War, found comfort in alcohol and women 
and was moved by the injustice he saw waged against the Montagnards. His 
military service ended in 1973.

He said he was, like many Vietnam War veterans, haunted by his experience 
there. He returned to the United States confused and uncertain. Those 
feelings helped form a foundation in his interest in counseling and 
psychology, a background he sometimes shows during contentious debates on 

"I have not been a perfect man and never will be," he said, "but it's 
important to try to grow."
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