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 6 seat. They are incumbent Commissioner Kenneth Reich and challenger Kevin Graves.
Graves has been married to Sandra Eakes Graves for 25 years. They attend the Journey Church. The couple has three children and three grandchildren. All three children attended Carroll-Oakland School and Lebanon High School, and the two grandchildren who are school age currently attend Carroll-Oakland School. Graves also attended Carroll School prior to its merge with Oakland School and Lebanon High School. His previous work history included route sales, Wilson County Road Commission, Lebanon Utilities and Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corp.
Reich retired from civil service after 30 years, along with 40 years of service in the U.S. Army and Tennessee Army National Guard. He’s a Lebanon High School graduate, attended Middle Tennessee State University and took several leadership courses while in the Army. Reich has been married to Dona Freeman Reich for 49 years, and the couple has three children, Tiffany Bevis, Kendra Shaffer and Jeremy Reich, and nine grandchildren.
What prompted you to seek office? Was it a personal initiative or did others encourage you?
Graves:My desire to improve District 6 and to make it the best in Wilson County prompted me to seek office. It was a combination of both. I wanted to run, and I was also approached and strongly encouraged to run by more than a dozen people in District 6, including, but not limited to, concerned farm owners, county employees and past elected officials.
Reich:I first decided to run for Wilson County Commission in District 6 in 2006. My decision was made in Bagdad, Iraq with one of my best friends, Jeff Joines. We wanted to make a difference in Wilson County’s future. In 2018, I decided to run for re-election because in the next four years, we need experience and leadership more than ever. Also, as a veteran road commissioner, it must be noted that two out of four road commissioners will be replaced. Therefore, I felt it would be imperative to offer my leadership and experience in this important task.
What are the most important issues in your race, and how do you plan to address them?
Graves: Listening to and addressing valid District 6 citizens’ concerns. The best way to address the issues is listening to the concerns and bringing them to the monthly county commission meetings, then communicating information shared and discussed at the meetings back to the citizens. While you can’t always act upon issues brought forth, you can often offer alternative options or at minimum explain why something can’t be done. Open communication is always best.
Reich:The most pressing issue during the next four years will be the constructing of new schools for our children and meeting their educational needs. We must find a way to fund most of these efforts without placing an added burden on property owners. Another important issue is the continued development of public safety. I have been chairman of the Emergency Management Committee. During this recent time, I have been instrumental in opening four new fire and ambulance stations. We must continue to meet the needs of our growing county.
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.
Graves: Planning for growth: Long-term plans need to be thorough. If a plan addresses current growth without considering long-term growth, we don’t always utilize our resources in the best ways. Respecting and caring for current facilities: Too often, buildings are not properly cared for or maintained, which results in unnecessary spending of taxpayer money. Teaching this respect also teaches young people to take pride in their community and environment. Education: Not every person will have the opportunity or desire to attend a higher education institution. We should work to bring vocational, technical and other certification schools to our county, which would enable many to learn a trade to become a successful contributor in their community.
Reich:You must attend county commission meetings, as well as committee meetings. You must stay informed and communicate with those in your district. You must address any wants and concerns of your constituents.
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