Owen’s  soccer coach who led an Erin Brockovich-style campaign to clean up industrial pollution in his neighborhood is now running for Congress.

A high school social studies teacher, Tate MacQueen said he is seeking the 10th District seat out of a sense of obligation to neighbors, students and fellow teachers.

“What is driving me is the work I’ve done in the community as an advocate and what I have done as an educator,” MacQueen said.

“I think people would say I’m passionate and that I care deeply for other people. I simply want to help where I can help, and accept help where I need it. If there is ever a time when we are in it together, this is it.”

A registered Democrat, MacQueen is the only member of that party so far to declare a candidacy. The 10th District, which includes Asheville, Black Mountain and other parts of Buncombe County, is held by five-term Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-Lake James.

MacQueen began at Owen in 2007, gaining acclaim as one of the state’s best soccer coaches who emphasized fair play and community service, having his players raise money and put on clinics for Special Olympics athletes.

Last year, student athletes voted to give him the Brad Johnson Award for the teacher making the biggest difference in students’ lives.

But his greatest activism was sparked over an issue even closer to home when he and fellow Mills Gap Road residents learned their Skyland-area neighborhood was contaminated by nearly three decades of industrial activity.

MacQueen led a campaign to hold liable CTS Corp. and environmental regulators who he said looked the other way.

That campaign took him to the offices of top U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials, members of Congress, and ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court. He and other plaintiffs are now asking justices to force the company to clean up industrial solvent that soaked into their soil and groundwater.

MacQueen said a sense of neglect by federal officials helped push him to run.

From The Asheville Citizen-Times