Swannanoa Fire Chief Anthony Penland has his work cut out for him as the newest member of the Buncombe County Commission. Penland was appointed to fill the District 2 seat left vacant when long-time commissioner Mike Fryar passed away on February 2 after a battle with cancer. Penland was officially sworn in during the County Commission meeting on March 3, just as the coronavirus was beginning to spread across the country. Since then, the Commission has dealt with a number of unprecedented challenges as it grapples with its response to the ongoing health crisis.
The 51-year-old Republican had thrown his hat in the ring for the County Commission this past fall, and was originally slated to challenge Fryar in the March 3 primary. Penland will now fill out the remainder of Fryar’s term, which runs through 2020. He’ll face incumbent Democratic commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara in the November general election. Beach-Ferrara currently represents District 1, but the redrawn maps place her in District 2.
Penland is a Swannanoa native, and attended Owen district public schools. He began his career with the Swannanoa Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter in 1990, eventually becoming Fire Chief in 2001. He currently serves as secretary of the WNC Association of Firefighters, and was named Career Fire Chief of the Year by that organization in 2015.