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:
Two candidates qualified to run for the District 10 seat. They are incumbent Commissioner Dan Walker and challenger Steve Thomas.
Thomas is married to Candice Thomas and has three children. He retired in 2017, and the majority of his career, nearly 30 years was spent with Thompson Machinery in various management positions. His prior employment was in heavy equipment sales and highway project management.
Walker and his wife, Sheila, were married 27 years ago, and they have a daughter, Kelly. He holds an associate’s degree from Trident Technical College, a bachelor’s degree in business administration from The Citadel, a master’s degree in business administration from Cumberland University and attended Navy Nuclear Power School and Naval electrical and utility accounting schools. He is a pricing administrator and national service manager at Lochnivar and previously worked as national operations manager for Hughes Supply and as an electrician and power plant operator in the U.S. Navy.
What prompted you to seek office? Was it a personal initiative or did others encourage you?
Thomas:Running for county commissioner has been on my mind for some time. I retired at the end of 2017 and feel like it is time to give back. I have a strong desire to see Wilson County continue to move forward and be the best it can be.
Walker:I have been involved with campaign work for several candidates over the years and made a decision to actively seek a position on the Wilson County Commission. After pulling a petition at the Election Commission, I was approached by Nathan Clariday, who represented District 10 at the time. He encouraged me to seek a nomination from the floor of the commission to serve out the remainder of the term in District 3, which became vacant upon the passing of Fred Weston. The commission appointed me, and I ran unopposed in the last election. The former commissioner pulled his petition in favor of me holding the seat in place of him.
What are the most important issues in your race, and how do you plan to address them?
Thomas:The phenomenal rate of growth presents unique challenges for the county. I believe the top three challenges are public safety with staffing levels, equipment and proper training, infrastructure or managing the rapid growth in Wilson County, ensuring dollars are spent wisely to build for future growth and schools with safety, funding and building.
Walker:Education comprises the largest part of the county budget and will continue to be my main focus as we continue on our new school construction and facility upgrades to keep ahead of the pace of development. We also need to continue our improvement in the area of technology in the classrooms and government offices. I will work closely with city and state elected officials whom I have a very good working relationship with to move forward with road and infrastructure improvements.
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.
Thomas:I believe that the issues I mentioned in question two have to be addressed for Wilson County to progress in a balanced way.
Walker:First and foremost, we must make sure schools are safe and well equipped, allowing our children the maximum opportunities to reach their full potential. Secondly, technology must also keep pace in our schools, as wells as our local infrastructure. As chairman of the Cable TV Committee I have been extremely active locally in the state and federal programs to expand broadband internet access to our rural communities. No person or child should be left behind. Finally, we must lift up our teachers and provide them with the necessary tools and training as education needs continue to evolve with the changing needs in our society. They must also be provided with competitive pay and benefits so can attract and retain a high level of expertise in our schools.
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