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:
In District 25, Commissioner Jim Emberton didn’t seek re-election, and four candidates – Arlie Bragg, Preston George, John Wayne Hamblen and Justin Smith – qualified to run for the seat. Hamblen didn’t submit answers to the questionnaire.
What prompted you to seek office? Was it a personal initiative or did others encourage you?
Bragg:I always want to give back to the community and feel I have the skills to do the job. It was a perfect time as I am semi-retired.
George:It was a personal initiative, because I have always had a heart for service. I wanted to be apart of something bigger than myself. In the coming years, Wilson County will be faced with several challenges due to a growing population. I am running for the county commission because I believe I can offer a positive resolution in solving many issues that must be addressed in the coming years.
Smith:What prompted me to seek office was both personal, along with others encouraging me to run. First being personal, I personally know that I have the disposition, experience and skills to listen to and lead District 25. I also know we have had previous commissioners who have voted against basic cost-of-living raises for teachers and other county employees. Secondly, many approached me and asked for my consideration to run for District 25 commissioner to represent them during the time of rapid growth and change.
What are the most important issues in your race, and how do you plan to address them?
Bragg:In and near my district, we have plenty of traffic issues, and I plan to address them if elected. I will have to work with state officials to better a plan for traffic. We also need to support our teachers, police and firemen with better pay. Financial management will have to be addressed so taxes don’t go up.
George:There are three key issues to this race. First, we need to be sustainable in our growth. We need to maintain growth that must not erode the bedrock values of our county so that we can continue to keep Wilson County great. I would be in support of a six-month moratorium. This would stop all building and allow us the opportunity to be able to address infrastructure concerns to become sustainable and not reactive. Secondly, infrastructure in the county needs to be addressed. I believe we need to improve current roads and tailor current and future roads to the growth we are seeing and will continue to see. Finally, We need to properly fund our schools. We are seeing a lot of growth, and with growth comes the need for more schools. By increasing our impact fee to just $6,000, it would allow the county to meet the bond issue, not have to increase the property taxes and still maintain an competitive price for impact fees in Tennessee.
Smith:The most important issues in my race, I believe, is to first work with both Mt. Juliet and Lebanon city governments to make sure the we all work together as a team. Secondly, we need to help manage the growth that has impacted District 25 in this current and near future time. Thirdly, I want to address the safety concern in some of the road areas that lie in our area, for example Lebanon Road at West Elementary School, along with East Division Street that travels from State Route 109 to Mt. Juliet Road. Safety is one of my top priorities.
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.
Bragg:We need to focus on education, employment and most of all safety in our communities and our county.
George:We are blessed to have one of the top performing school systems across the state. To maintain these standards, we must address teachers’ salary to retain our hardworking and dedicated teachers. Secondly, we must insure that we provide the safest school environment for our children. Finally, we must provide our children with the most effective and state-of-the-art resources in education to insure our students are not only college ready, but also career ready.
Smith:Thinking of our county 20 years from now, the three things that must be addressed now to make it better for the children of this county are to invest in the generations to come which our children are our greatest assets. The education and experience we give them will set the tone for the kind of world they create after we are gone. Secondly, we need to invest in the safety and quality of our children’s education, not just the buildings in which they learn. Thirdly, we need in invest in the teachers who we place in the classroom from the level of pay to the benefits that the county offers. To obtain and to keep great teachers and leaders, you must appreciate them and invest in them.
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