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District 1 candidates seek Wilson County Commission seat

Staff Reports • Jul 13, 2018 at 3:50 PM

The Aug. 2 Wilson County General Election features 43 total candidates who seek to fill seats on the Wilson County Commission in 18 contested races. 

Commissioners were uncontested for seven of the 25 total seats on the commission. They are Bobby Franklin in District 3, Terry Scruggs in District 7, Sara Patton in District 9, John Gentry in District 11, Terry Ashe in District 12, Gary Keith in District 17 and William Glover in District 19. Eight commissioners opted not to seek re-election.

The Democrat sent questionnaires to each commission candidate in the contested races, along with requests for biographical information. The following are the candidates’ answers and information about them:

District 1

In District 1, Commissioner Becky Siever didn’t seek re-election, and two candidates – Robert Fields and Tim Roehler – qualified to run for the seat. 

Fields is an alumnus of Swainsboro, Georgia High School, South Georgia College and the University of Georgia. He was the manager of Ramsey Candy Co., a family owned business in south Georgia for seven years and sales and marketing manager for UST, a Fortune 500 company, for 25 years. There, he prepared and executed marketing plans Kentucky and Tennessee, while directly supervising eight employees and indirectly supervising more than 100 full- and part-time employees. He’s a veteran of the U.S. Navy and is a member of the National Rifle Association, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1004 in Lebanon, Tyler Cates American Legion Post 281 in Mt. Juliet, Tyler Cates American Legion Post 281 Honor Guard, Sons of the American Legion, Sons of the American Revolution, First Families of Georgia 1733-93 and Wilson County Right to Life. He is married to Patricia Couch Fields for 28 years and has two adult children and four grandchildren.

Roehler is married to Dr. Stacee Roehler, and they have two young daughters and a mini-schnauzer named Jasmine. He was born at Fort Stewart, Georgia and spent four years in Germany while his father served in the U.S. Army. The family moved to East Tennessee when his father’s enlistment was complete, and Roehler lived there until he moved to Wilson County in 2007. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Austin Peay State University and graduated magna cum laude while working full time. He worked for 14 years in customer service for a major U.S. telecommunications company before he transitioned to IT Network Operations, where he has worked for the last four years in the banking sector.

What prompted you to seek office? Was it a personal initiative or did others encourage you? 

Fields:I have been involved in political campaigns since the early 2000s, even chairing several successful campaigns for state and federal offices. Therefore, since 2014, I have been considering seeking the position of Wilson County commissioner and made the decision in mid-2017. Although I was encouraged by several friends residing in District 1 to run, it was a personal decision based on many hours of prayer.

Roehler:For me, seeking office is a bit of a calling. Over the years, I have had friends and family who suggested I run, and I often considered it, but the time never felt right. This spring when I heard that Commissioner Siever would not seek re-election, I felt compelled to step up and be the voice of District 1.   

What are the most important issues in your race, and how do you plan to address them?

Fields:County infrastructure, education and school safety and effective use of your tax dollars. Having a granddaughter in Wilson County schools encourages me to fight for the highest level of education, the best qualified staffing and the most effectively and efficiently run schools in our county and state. Education should always be a top priority. With the tremendous growth of Wilson County, it is incumbent on our local government to provide safe and drivable roads and bridges, protect our children in our school systems, while effectively and wisely using the tax dollars provided by our citizens without burdening them with additional tax increases. If elected, one avenue to conserve tax dollars would rescind the 100 percent pay increase passed by the county commissioners in July 2015. This would essentially save the county $100,000 per year or $400,000 in the period of one term. This money would better serve our public citizens than 25 individuals.

Roehler:As has been the case for a number of election cycles, growth and how we deal with that growth remains the most important issue facing Wilson County. We are now at a crossroads of sorts with the growth that has already been realized and whether that growth can continue at the same or a similar pace and do so for the benefit of all. I believe that both are possible if we invest responsibly in our school system, infrastructure and community safety.  

For example, we need more schools, but must undergo extensive planning to make sure we are building the right schools, in the right areas, to serve the right mix of students. Also, we cannot ignore that a school system is only as good as the teachers and staff thus we must recruit and retain the best by compensating them according to their value. Similarly, the county must take an aggressive approach to infrastructure planning and maintenance of roads and bridges or not only will growth stall, but also could reverse and leave the county less safe to navigate. Finally, any discussion of growth must include community safety. We ask a great deal of our men and women in uniform – police, fire, EMA. We need ensure that not only do we have enough people in those uniforms, but that they are also the right people and are compensated properly.

Think of our county 20 years from now. Name three things that must be addressed now to make it better for the children of this county. 

Fields:Quality education with equitable teacher compensation, strong county infrastructure planning and zoning and illegal drugs and suicide prevention.

Roehler:I keep coming back to my campaign priorities, and I make no apologies for it: Education, infrastructure and community safety.  

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