Pubdate: Mon, 26 Oct 2009
Source: Asheville Citizen-Times (NC)
Copyright: 2009 Asheville Citizen-Times
Author: Joel Burgess


Drug-Fighting Councilman Once Advocated Legalization

ASHEVILLE -- Possibly the two most polarizing words in city politics 
are these: Carl Mumpower.

And that's something the two-term city councilman and former vice 
mayor says is OK.

Mumpower hasn't paused in going after everyone from progessives to 
business owners, so long as it accomplishes his purposes.

"I've alienated every special interest I can think of. I have no 
constituency," he said. "I'm even indifferent to my own political career."

Dogged attacks against drug dealing and illegal immigration have 
meant criticizing police and calling federal immigration officials 
about local businesses. It has also led to a cut-and-dry impression 
by many of the councilman.

But the Mumpower whom conservatives love and progressives love to 
hate is more complex than his polished sound bites reveal.

Lesser-known aspects of the 56-year-old psychologist and grandfather 
include his birth outside the country, work with prostitutes and his 
one-time advocacy of legalizing drugs.

On Oct. 6, voters made him the fourth-highest vote-getter in a 
nine-way primary and gave him a spot on the Nov. 3 general election ballot.

Mumpower has older ties to the mountains than any other candidate, 
but he's not a native. He was born in London to an English mother, 
Barbara. His father, Ralph, was born in Yancey County and was a 
20-year Navy veteran before his death in 2000.

He went to Owen High School, then volunteered for a tour of duty in 
Vietnam. Afterward, he studied psychology and went on to get graduate 
degrees from Western Carolina University, the University of Georgia 
and Union Institute.

As an Asheville psychologist he specialized in families and workplace 
violence and volunteered to counsel prostitutes, "one of the saddest 
groups I think we have in our culture," he said.

In 1997, he wrote a newspaper opinion piece equating the war on drugs 
with Vietnam and advocating the legalization of marijuana and 
controlled distribution of hard drugs so that "addicts no longer have 
to hurt people and steal to fund their habit."

But in 2004, a year into his second term, Mumpower spent the night at 
the Deaverview public housing development, where he saw drug dealers 
operating all night outside his window.

Later he began conducting one-man stakeouts, causing his wife to 
threaten to leave him, he said.

What emerged was one of Mumpower's many themes that so many have 
become familiar with, that hard drugs are one of the city's top problems.

"It continues to touch everybody in Asheville. I think it is an 
institutional form of child abuse," he said.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake