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Local candidates respond to Record’s questions

Publisher’s note: The Erwin Record recently sent a questionnaire to the candidates in both the Town of Erwin and Town of Unicoi mayoral and aldermen races. The following are the responses the candidates returned. The responses have not been edited for grammar or content; they reflect the opinions of the candidates and not necessarily those of The Erwin Record or its company.

Town of Erwin Mayor

Doris Hensley

Mayor Doris Hensley is unopposed in the Nov. 8 election.

1. Why are you seeking the office of mayor?

I am seeking re-election to the office of mayor of the Town of Erwin. During the past four years, I have primarily focused on advancing Erwin through community and economic development. Much has been accomplished in the town, but there are several projects that need to be completed. I want to bring these projects and future plans to completion.

2. What experiences qualify you for this office?

I retired from the Town of Erwin after 30 years of employment. I served as administrative assistant for 19 years and 11 years as city recorder. After retirement, I worked as executive director of the Joint Economic Development Board of Unicoi County.

I’ve also been a part-time consultant with UT-MTAS, assisting several towns with training and budgetary issues. I have first-hand experience in dealing with progress, as well as overcoming economic challenges in towns our size.

3. What are the three  most important issues facing your town?

The three most important issues facing our town are job recruitment, increasing the tax base and emergency response service. I am communicating with several industrial and retail developers, with the intent of recruiting good paying jobs to the town. With new development comes an increased tax base. I am also concerned about emergency medical services to our citizens. I believe it is very important to provide swift and professional emergency services to those who live work or visit our town

4. Please explain your level of commitment to Tennessee’s open records and Sunshine laws. Do you think they are worthwhile?

I’m a firm believer in the Sunshine Laws. I think it is very important that citizens are kept informed of what is happening in our town, and world, today. However, occasionally some issues, such as industrial recruitment, require confidentiality until the deal has been reached.

Town of Erwin

Aldermen Candidates (Running for 4-year terms)

Gary W. Edwards

1. Why are you seeking the office of alderman?

To continue to represent and be a voice for the citizens of the Town of Erwin.

2. What experiences qualify you for this  office?

• Over 19 years’ experience as an alderman for the Town of Erwin

• Former plant manager at Tennessee Abrasives

• Former member of the zoning board

• Current Chairman of the beer board

• Current member of the utility board

• Current vice mayor of the town of Erwin

• Current Chairman of the Public Works committee

3. What are the three most important issues facing your town?

• The first issue is jobs, we are currently working with the Tennessee Economic and Community Development, and we should continue to do so.

• Secondly is tourism, we are currently working with the Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber of Commerce is working with the Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association and the Tennessee Department of Tourist development to highlight our natural beauty. If we can secure tourism then there will be no need to increase taxes.

• Last but not least is to maintain our streets, this year we took a step in the right direction by budgeting a paving machine to the asphalt heated to help eliminate loss of material.

4. How will your presence on the board help to overcome those issues?

As a current member of the board, we have already taken steps to overcome these issues. If re-elected I will continue to do so.

5. Please explain your level of commitment to Tennessee’s open records and Sunshine laws. Do you think they are worthwhile?

I do think the Tennessee open records and sunshine laws are worthwhile. Anytime we are dealing with public issues we should be open to our citizens.

Rob Martin

Mr. Martin submitted his responses in both English and Spanish.

1. Why are you seeking the office of alderman?

I am hopeful the people of Erwin will support me and allow me to help the town with my fresh ideas and seasoned skills earned over three decades of successful and hard work building and managing teams and delivering products and services in the technical software business world.

Tengo la esperanza de la gente de Erwin me apoyen y me permitirá ayudar a la ciudad con mis nuevas ideas y habilidades experimentados ganado más de tres décadas de trabajo de construcción exitosa y duro y gestión de equipos y la entrega de productos y servicios en el mundo de los negocios de software técnico.

I have been fortunate in gaining worthwhile experience in the academic and business world which provide me concrete skills that bear directly on making decisions, crafting and delivering new strategies and running the town of Erwin.

He tenido la suerte de ganar experiencia valiosa en el mundo académico y empresarial, que me proporciona habilidades concretas que inciden directamente en la toma de decisiones, diseñar y presentar nuevas estrategias y ejecución de la localidad de Erwin.

I have over 30 years of professional business and management experience including experience as a full time staff technical consultant for Price Waterhouse Coopers and IBM. I have provided services and counsel for customer & clients including AT&T, American Express, Kraft Foods, CPG, Colgate Palmolive, Mobil Oil, Proctor & Gamble, U.S. Trust, Bank of America, Motorola, the State of Texas, and many other companies.   I wish to contribute this experience to helping the citizens and the town of Erwin.

Tengo más de 30 años de actividad profesional y la experiencia de gestión.

2. What experiences qualify you for this office?

I was an instructor at the University School and the Computer Science Department at ETSU for five years.  I created the curriculum for the New Software Paradigms class at the University of San Francisco and was the instructor for the class. I was an instructor at The University of Denver, and a seminar lecturer at the University of Texas. I assisted in the creation of the Program Curriculum for the J.D. Edwards School of Computer Science and Management at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln (now Jeffrey S. Raikes School).

I earned a Master of Science degree in Computer Science with a 4.0 GPA.  I was a volunteer adult literacy instructor in Unicoi County until funding was cut for the program.  I volunteer as Ambassador for Unicoi County to the AT Conservancy for my third year representing Erwin while accomplishing community projects for the AT – like the new hiker information kiosk at the Nolichucky – while helping Eagle Scouts earn their final Eagle projects.

As manager of IT for the central US region of a billion dollar a year ERP software company I had responsibility for technical software sales in 17 states with a sales quote of $47 million a year (which I consistently met and exceeded), a budget for staff and expenses of $1 million a year with 8 technical professionals working directly under my supervision.

For the past seven years I have been managing the technical and software infrastructure for a $20 million dollar a year international manufacturing company. For the past three years I have been Director of IT Infrastructure and Software Development for this company and directly supervising the budgets and technical operations of factories and international sales organizations in the USA, Mexico and China.

3. What are the three most important issues facing your town?

Maintaining and improving basic government services while keeping the costs to the taxpayers at the current levels of taxation. No new tax increases. Improving the return on the money being spent.

El mantenimiento y la mejora de los servicios públicos básicos, manteniendo los costes a los contribuyentes a los niveles actuales de impuestos. No hay nuevos aumentos de impuestos. La mejora de la rentabilidad del dinero que se gasta.

Accountability of the government to the citizens and voters. The problems and work the town faces and the decisions being made by the elected officials should be well known, openly and publicly discussed, and honestly made available to all the citizens and voters in Erwin.

Rendición de cuentas del gobierno a los ciudadanos y votantes. Los problemas y trabajar las caras de la ciudad y las decisiones que se toman por los funcionarios elegidos deben ser bien conocidos, discute abiertamente y públicamente, y honestamente ponerse a disposición de todos los ciudadanos y votantes en Erwin.

Making good decisions to help support and keep local businesses and bring in new jobs.

Tomar buenas decisiones para ayudar a mantener el apoyo y las empresas locales y atraer a nuevos puestos de trabajo.

4. How will your presence on the board help to overcome those issues?

In my 30 years in the business and academic world I have been delivering work, products and instruction on time and under budget. I plan to bring the hard-earned scalpel of business planning and execution and the skilled logical craftsmanship of academia to cut away what is not working and craft new methods and ideas for what needs to be done to make Erwin a better town.

En mis 30 años en el mundo empresarial y académico que he sido la entrega de productos y de trabajo, la instrucción a tiempo y bajo presupuesto. Tengo la intención de llevar el bisturí duramente ganado de la planificación y ejecución de negocios y de la mano de obra calificada lógica de la academia para cortar lo que no funciona y elaborar nuevos métodos e ideas para lo que hay que hacer para que Erwin una mejor ciudad.

5. Please explain your level of commitment to Tennessee’s open records and Sunshine laws. Do you think they are worthwhile?

I have been an advocate for opening all records and town business to public viewing and open publication. I will continue to advocate for a completely open government process and decision making.

He sido un defensor de la apertura de todos los registros y de negocios de la ciudad a la vista del público y la publicación abierta. Voy a seguir abogando por un proceso de gobierno completamente abierto y la toma de decisiones.

Wayne Morris

Mr. Morris did not submit responses to The Erwin Record by the publication deadline.

Sue Jean Wilson

1. Why are you seeking the office of alderman?

I want to see that Erwin continues on a positive path. During the past year, we have seen the closure of the railroad and the economic damage that has done to so many of our citizens.  Several of our businesses have worked extremely hard to keep our downtown alive. Being elected will allow me the opportunity to contribute to a positive future growth of my home town.

2. What experiences qualify you for this office?

After serving eight years on the County Commission, the citizens of Erwin elected me to my first term as alderman. There were issues that came before the commission that are also faced by the Town of Erwin. If elected for another term, I can continue to use my past experience to see that our town grows in a positive way.

3. What are the three most important issues facing your town?

The Town of Erwin is facing three extremely important issues:

Maintaining and supporting the businesses in our downtown

Locating new businesses and industries for the town and county

Working to improve the situation with our Emergency Medical Service

4. How will your presence on the board help to overcome those issues?

My past experience in local and county government, along with being a life-long resident, gives me insight to how our citizens love and feel about our community.  Having taught for twenty-seven years, I now see my former students moving into positions of importance in our town.  Working along side of them as adults gives me a great deal of pride.

5. Please explain your level of commitment to Tennessee’s open records and Sunshine laws. Do you think they are worthwhile?

The Tennessee Open Records and Sunshine Laws are the backbone of what makes it possible for our citizens to keep check on our state and local governments. It takes our citizens attending the meetings and expressing their opinions on the matters before the government agencies to make the above laws worthwhile.

Town of Unicoi Mayor

Kathy Bullen

1. Why are you seeking the office of mayor?

I am seeking the office of Mayor of the Town of Unicoi because I believe that government belongs to the citizens and is designed to serve the citizens. THAT MEANS ALL OF THE CITIZENS. My experience as an Alderman for the past two years has revealed that our town leadership has not been and still is not focused on the entire town. Instead, it seems as though, there have been too many specific projects that benefit a small group connected to the Mayor, other members of the Board, and their friends. The Town of Unicoi MUST SERVE ALL THE CITIZENS!

2. What experiences qualify you for this office?

I was elected as an Alderman two years ago.  It has been a pleasure to represent citizens in this office, though it has not always been easy.  My campaign slogan then was “A New Voice,” and that is exactly what I have been.  I have been willing to stand when others have folded.  I am committed to speaking for and acting on the behalf of the majority of citizens, not just a few.

I have been a Registered Nurse for 34 years and an Educator for over 12 years. In those careers, I have conducted myself in a manner nothing short of professional. I am a problem solver and decision maker. I am a listener and an encourager.  I am a communicator.  Every citizen and “customer” of the town will be treated with respect.    

3. What are the three most important issues facing your town?

• When a citizen is not involved in the government, they often question the integrity and honesty of their elected officials. Intentional transparency is the only answer. No citizen should ever experience “the runaround” when asking questions. No Alderman or citizen should ever experience vague and unclear explanations for questions asked.  Transparency MUST be the goal, and there should NEVER be anything an elected official wants or needs to hide from any other person. 

• There needs to be a balance between developing the town for tourists and maintaining the town for the citizens. I am not opposed to creating tourist opportunities. While our citizens can certainly benefit from tourism, they should not and will not be pushed to the side as a secondary priority.

• Municipalities, or a town in our case, are incorporated within a county when the town believes it can provide services more efficiently than the county can for its residents.  The Town of Unicoi was incorporated and chartered as a town to protect it from becoming incorporated into Johnson City. That was successful.  Even though the Town of Unicoi does not provide law enforcement, water/sewer, trash pickup, or other city services, we are still a Town.  And as a Town, we need to focus our financial resources on infrastructure and improving the lives of our citizens. 

4. How will your presence as mayor help to overcome those issues?

I am committed to open, honest communication with ALL the members of the BMA and the citizenship. I will practice integrity in everything I do as Mayor.  As an alderman, every citizen is free to come to me and ask questions, make comments, or request copies of documents without fear of being hassled or bullied, and this will continue as mayor. The Town is here to take care of its citizens, not exclude them, especially when they may not agree. I will lead by example and expect every member of the Board of Mayor and Alderman, every town employee, and every town volunteer to treat every customer and citizen with respect. 

Finally, because of the narrow focus of our Town, serving and benefitting a small few, many citizens think the Town should be unincorporated. I do not want to do that. I believe the best way to address this issue is to redirect Town efforts to engage and serve all of the citizens. The Town’s purpose is to serve its citizens, not the Mayor, his family, and friends. 

5. Please explain your level of commitment to Tennessee’s open records and Sunshine laws. Do you think they are worthwhile?

Sunshine Laws and the Open Records Act are both in law to protect citizens. In fact, the citizens are our employers. These laws are a way for citizens to hold elected officials accountable, which is a very good thing. Unfortunately, it is often impossible to document every communication between elected or appointed officials to be retrieved for any purpose. Many conversations take place in person or on the phone. As a matter of personal integrity, an elected or appointed official must, to the best of their ability, CHOOSE to abide by and conduct themselves in compliance with these laws.  I have chosen to conduct myself in this manner. 

Johnny Lynch

1. Why are you seeking the office of mayor?

I am extremely proud of our town and its accomplishments. These are some of our accomplishments we have made without Property Taxes: Exceptional Financial Status, Infrastructure Improvements, Grants, Public Recreation, Tourism & Historic Preservation, Community  Outreach, and Award Winning Achievements and Improvements.

What a great place to live! I hope that our citizens will allow me the privilege of continuing to serve them while making our town an even greater place to live.

2. What experiences qualify you for this office?

I first began my service to our country as a combat medic in Vietnam. I have been actively involved in our town since its founding in 1994.I served as Chairman of the group that organized the town. I served served first as an Alderman for 10 years and then as Mayor for the last 12 years. These years of service have helped me gain a great deal of knowledge of municipal government and how to bring people together to make great things happen in our community.

Our Town’s capital assets and net worth have increased by 322%. Our Fund Balance has grown by 40%. Our town has acquired over $2.5 million in grants for infrastructure, beautification projects, tourism development, fire and safely equipment and more. We have obtained over $475,000 in outside funding for a new public use kitchen business incubator. Unicoi was selected as a Tennessee Model Town in 2015 by the Tennessee Municipal League.

3. What are the three most important issues facing your town?

Economic Development

I believe we must continue to use our resources to promote new businesses and new job creation.  We have provided recent infra-structure improvements for the planned business district at I-26, Exit 32 in support of the Dollar General Store, Mountain Harvest Kitchen and the soon to be built Roadrunner Market.

The Town of Unicoi is blessed with outstanding natural resources which attract visitors from all over the country. This great potential has barely been tapped. However, we have worked diligently to develop our tourism potential and will continue these efforts.

I believe we must support our children in their educational endeavors so they can reach their highest potential.  The Town of Unicoi has given $7.9 million (2005-2016) to Unicoi County High School.

We need to continue to work with the Unicoi County Economic Development Board and Tri-County Economic Development Board in order to promote business and create jobs.

Infrastructure and Roads

Road maintenance is an ever present need in our community. We spend 20% of our total budget on roads, which is more then most towns our size. We must continue to keep road maintenance as a top priority.

Infrastructure improvements include the construction of the Town of Unicoi Tourist Information Center and Information Kiosk. At I-26, Exit 32 and the construction of public restrooms, picnic areas, parking lot at the trailhead of the Pinnacle Trail and the new Jack Snider Park, and the Bogart-Bowman Cabin at Buffalo Creek Park which includes a walking trail, soccer field, and state-certified arboretum. All these improvements have been accomplished without a property tax.

Health and Safetly

We must continue to support the Unicoi Volunteer Fire Department. Our total contributions from 2005-2016 have totaled more than $375,000. The Town of Unicoi has added fire hydrants throughout the town which has brought down the Town’s ISO ratings, resulting in lower property insurance premiums for residents. The town must continue to explore options to expand fire protection services through-out the town. For many years we have worked closely with the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department to provide safety and security for our residents.

4. How will your presence as mayor help to overcome those issues?

I have dedicated countless hours, days, weeks, and months to the Town of Unicoi over the last 22 years. Under my leadership and extensive experience, we have accomplished significant goals which have enriched our lives and have supported our outstanding quality of life which we enjoy here in these beautiful mountains. I am committed to continuing this important work for the citizens of the Town of Unicoi.

5. Please explain your level of commitment to Tennessee’s open records and Sunshine laws. Do you think they are worthwhile?

I firmly believe in transparency in government. These laws are designed to allow our town’s citizens to have knowledge of town business and to keep all transactions and decisions above board. Yes, these laws are definitely worthwhile.

Town of Unicoi

Aldermen Candidates (Running to complete Phil Hensley’s 2-year unexpired term)

Roger Cooper

1. Why are you seeking the office of alderman?

Over the past few years, I have observed many things that have taken place in the Town of Unicoi that just don’t seem correct. Monies have been spent on things that don’t benefit the majority of Citizens in the Town. Major differences between the Town Management and the County Sheriff have arisen, which relate to law enforcement in the Town. I have personally witnessed poor planning from the Town on a major road project.  All of the above situations have convinced me that we need new Management in the Town of Unicoi, which would govern for the well-being of “all Citizens” of the Town.

2. What experiences qualify you for this office?

I have lived in the Marbleton community since 1977. I retired from Morrill Motors after 39 years of loyal and dedicated service. As Maintenance Manager for Morrill, I oversaw all maintenance for the Company. At the same time, I was over a Project group that oversaw any construction project and equipment build/rebuild. The above responsibilities required knowledge in construction, project planning, budgeting, supervision, contract negotiations and working relations with employees, Governmental agencies and outside contractors. Through the years, I have worked with countless local Contractors and Companies in support of Morrill Motors.  Since there is no substitute for experience, I feel that what I will bring to the Alderman position will benefit the Town of Unicoi for years.

3. What are the three most important issues facing your town?

Transparency is a huge issue. In a Town the size of ours, there should never be any issues of transparency but unfortunately that is not the case. We have to change our attitude about open government so all citizens of the Town can ask questions and get straight honest answers.

Government for “all Citizens” of the Town is another issue. One of the main responsibilities of a town government is to provide for the well-being of its Citizens. This includes infrastructure,  law enforcement, fire protection and economic growth.The Town should work constantly with other local and State agencies to bring good paying jobs to the area.

Trust in city government is another big issue. Somehow the Town Government must again gain the confidence of all the Town Citizens. Today I feel trust in the existing Town Government is on a downward spiral and the only way to reverse this trend is to elect new members to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

4. How will your presence on the board help to overcome those issues?

My belief in open records and The Sunshine law will open up the availability of all information, concerning all business conducted by the Town, to all the Citizens of the Town. I will expect all members of the Town Government and employees to conduct business in a professional manner. Every person who walks into the Town Hall deserves to be treated fairly and equally.  Policies such as Building and Zoning codes and permit information need to be readily available to Citizens. If we will follow the above, we will regain the Trust and Respect of the Citizens.

5. Please explain your level of commitment to Tennessee’s open records and Sunshine laws. Do you think they are worthwhile?

I totally believe in Tennessee’s open records and Sunshine laws. Without these two laws, the general public has no idea how officials are conducting their business. Likewise, any official should not be ashamed of what they say or stand for in any meeting. The Public deserves to know where, what and when their elected or appointed officials are discussing or conducting business.

A good case in point is the latest Unicoi County Election Commission meeting. Prior to the meeting, the Chairman and the Secretary of the Election Commission had a private meeting in the Meeting Room with the door closed. No one else was in the room with them. Now the question is what were they discussing that was so important that they had to have their own private, closed door meeting? Were they discussing the upcoming deer season or maybe their latest fishing trip? Or were they discussing what they were going to do in the meeting. The perception that citizens came away with in this case is they were discussing matters that should have been discussed in the official open meeting. 

Another note to consider is that a reporter from this newspaper was there covering the meeting as well as a reporter from TV Channel 11 news. Neither of these reporters have mentioned a word of this private meeting. WHY?? 

Again, I totally believe in open records and the Sunshine law. All appointed and elected officials should know the law and follow it. If they follow the law, they have nothing to hide.

Billy R. Harkins, Jr.

1. Why are you seeking the office of alderman?

I’m seeking the office of alderman for a few reasons.  One being that I became interested in my community and the way it operated.  Once I became familiar with the Board of Mayor & Alderman, I became proactive and joined the Unicoi History Group.  So to expand my participation, I secured a seat on the Planning Commission for the Town and the Economic Development Board for the County.  It was at this point that I decided to run for Alderman for the Town of Unicoi.  I believe I can serve my community in a greater capacity as an alderman.    

2. What experiences qualify you for this office?

1.  I have been to every Board of Mayor & Alderman meeting for the last three years.

2.  I currently sit on the Planning Commission for the Town of Unicoi.

3.  I sit on the Economic Development Board for the County.

3. What are the three most important issues facing your town?

1.  The welfare of our Senior Citizens

2.  The education of our children

3.  Employment for our working-age men & women

4. How will your presence on the board help to overcome those issues?

If I receive a seat on the Board of Mayor & Alderman, I believe that I can serve the folks of Unicoi in a manner that satisfies all citizens.

5. Please explain your level of commitment to Tennessee’s open records and Sunshine laws. Do you think they are worthwhile?

My answer is, I believe that it is imperative that a public official be open and honest about all of their dealings. Therefore, I believe whole-heartedly in the Sunshine Laws of the great state of Tennessee.

Town of Unicoi

Aldermen Candidates (Running for 4-year terms)

Doug Hopson

1. Why are you seeking the office of alderman?

I love to serve the people I have known most of my life. I want to see the town I grew up in develop and prosper for my children’s and grandchildren’s future. It’s important to me to keep the town prospering and growing in a positive way. ALL CITIZENS MATTER!

2. What experiences qualify you for this office?

During my time on the board, I have been actively involved in all aspects of the town. I have a strong background in banking, finances, and business management. Since being elected, I have completed numerous educational training classes in local and state government. I’m also very active on several boards, such as First Tennessee Human Resources, First Tennessee Development District, the local Planning and Zoning Commission, and many other boards.

3. What are the three most important issues facing your town?

One of my major priorities is bringing new business and industry to our town and county. As part of this focus, I’m also interested in supporting all current businesses. Another important issue is to keep maintaining our roads and highways, making sure they are upgraded to a higher standard throughout our town. The third issue for me is that I’d like to see all projects completed such as Mountain Harvest Kitchen, our hiking trails, and school improvements.  As we move forward, I feel it’s important to keep all citizens updated and informed concerning town activities and events.

4. How will your presence on the board help to overcome those issues?

My years of experience on the board and all contacts I have made in local and state government will ensure I am knowledgeable about addressing those important issues. It has helped me to understand our needs and goals by being on numerous boards, planning and zoning boards, and working with state agencies regarding human resources and development district and other agencies. My being personally involved on a daily basis throughout the community helps me understand the needs of the town.

5. Please explain your level of commitment to Tennessee’s open records and Sunshine laws. Do you think they are worthwhile?

I strongly support open records and the Sunshine law. Nothing should be done behind closed doors. I feel the Town of Unicoi has a very good open records policy. All records are available to anyone.

Jeff Linville

1. Why are you seeking the office of alderman?

I am running for the office of alderman to complete all projects that have been started and be a part of the positive growth in the Town of Unicoi. Unicoi is on the verge of busting loose as far as development is concerned. I have been actively involved in preparing for this development and want to see the efforts come to fruition.

2. What experiences qualify you for this office?

My three year experience on the Board of Mayor and Alderman and participation in some of the organizations in the town qualify me to run for alderman. I now have a working understanding of town government and an active involvement in town activities. Prior to becoming an alderman I served six years on the Unicoi Utility Board of Commissioners and was actively involved in the infrastructure installation and replacement to provide adequate water supply to both exits for development. Several of these projects were in conjunction with the Town of Unicoi.

3. What are the three most important issues facing your town?

I feel that the most important issue facing the town is assisting in job growth for our residents. Retail, entrepreneurial and manufacturing growth all need to be encouraged. The second issue is growing our sales tax revenue base by assisting in the development of both of our exits and Unicoi Drive. Maintaining our roads is the third issue facing our town. We need to follow up on utility cuts to ensure they are properly repaired and remain so after settling. The majority of our road complaints can be traced to a utility cut. Our current policy of repairing roads per a schedule works fine, but, we can’t all be first.

4. How will your presence on the board help to overcome those issues?

I have been active in the Mountain Harvest Kitchen project including recruitment of prospective users along with recruitment of retail businesses. I have always voted in support of the infrastructure needed to support retail and manufacturing business. I was involved in the decision to build the water storage tank on White Cove road and the replacement of the line to feed the Tinker Road exit opening that area up to an increased number of potential businesses. I was also involved in the installation of the main water line to Exit 32 which was a major component in lowering the ISO rating to a 6 and lowering your insurance premiums. My continued presence on the board will aid in seeing that all of these projects are utilized to create job growth and sales tax revenue.

5. Please explain your level of commitment to Tennessee’s open records and Sunshine laws. Do you think they are worthwhile?

Tennessee’s open records and Sunshine laws are absolutely worthwhile. The citizens need to be able to research what their elected officials have done and all decisions need to be made in a public meeting where citizens have a right to voice their opinion. Our BMA meetings are somewhat informal allowing citizens ample opportunity to voice their opinion prior to a vote being taken. The open records laws have been utilized an increased number of times during this election period and our staff has responded to every request.

Jonathan Clint Miller

1. Why are you seeking the office of alderman?

I have a desire to work for the citizens of the Town of Unicoi and to do all that is within my power to help the town grow and prosper. I am a product of Unicoi County. I moved from Erwin to the Town of Unicoi in 2004. My wife, Kerry Cichowski Miller, and I have raised our children in this town. I believe my life experiences of being raised in this county and raising my children in this town gives me the desire and direction to move forward. I want to drive more business to this region to help create jobs and revenue for the Town and county. I hope to increase awareness and interest in local community outreach programs. Our children are the future of this town and community. I want to work to give them every opportunity that is possible.

2. What experiences qualify you for this office?

Working as the Information Technology Instructor with Unicoi County Schools has given me many experiences that I believe qualify me for this office. During the summer of 2013, I proposed a grant with the State Dept of Education to fund an Apple App Development class for Unicoi County High School. This resulted in $85,000 in computer hardware, software and training for students with interest in app development. The grant had tedious strings and constraints, and in spring 2014, we successfully received all funding on the project.

Since Fall 2005 to Present, I began to oversee CT&M, which is a school board owned computer and training company that builds and sells computers. I am responsible for this business in addition to ensuring that students meet and exceed their state mandated competencies. By overseeing this program I have gained invaluable experience in working with budgets, inventories, time constraints, and school board policy. I have learned effective ways to work with vendors, write and advertise RFPs or Request for Proposals, as well as become familiar with State and Federal bidding guidelines.

In 2009, I began working with SkillsUSA, a national organization made up of students, teachers and industry representatives. I planned and coordinated regional and state conferences for hundreds of students, which resulted in many scholarships, as well as working with the regional committee and being assigned an official position as secretary. While working with this committee, I have learned to work with others to make difficult decisions, communicate with people on different levels, and follow policy and procedures set out in the regional and national charter bylaws.

3. What are the three most important issues facing your town?

One of my biggest concerns is the diminishing businesses in our town and in our county. Too much of our tax dollars are being spent outside of our town. I want to help encourage entrepreneurship by citizens and entice outside businesses to consider establishing in our town. Next, I want to do all we can to beautify our town from the streets to the signage to the parks. Many of our streets and roads have not been kept up to the quality of what our town should be demonstrating. We live in a beautiful area and I believe it is important that we strive to maintain all facets of this town. Lastly, I believe it is vital to our town’s success that we focus on ensuring that we have an open government in place with communication to the citizens that is reliable and honest all the while being frugal with our funds and working towards a beneficial long term goal.

4. How will your presence on the board help to overcome those issues?

I have a progressive mindset. I believe our town has the opportunity to grow through the means of tourism, but I do not believe it to be our only avenue of growth. I am transparent and willing to listen. I look forward to gathering ideas from community members to learn how the town can be better served. I want to utilize current assets, if possible, to solve problems. I am not in this for personal gain other than to see our town grow and prosper.  I work well in a team setting. I believe listening and communicating effectively as a team is essential to any project and/or job. I am comfortable in either spoken or written communication. These skills give me the ability to collaborate successfully with group leaders and team members to accomplish set goals.

5. Please explain your level of commitment to Tennessee’s open records and Sunshine laws. Do you think they are worthwhile?

According to the Sunshine laws, “the public policy of the state that the formation of public policy and decisions is public business and shall not be conducted in secret.” I believe in this law wholeheartedly and if elected I will do my best to uphold this law on The Town of Unicoi. I do not believe in backdoor dealings or making plans on the side. If there is Town business, it belongs on a public forum to be discerned by the people.

John W. Mosley

1. Why are you seeking the office of alderman?

I am seeking office of alderman in hopes of bringing businesses to Unicoi. We currently have five empty businesses on Unicoi Drive within a quarter mile of Town Hall. I also want to let the road superintendent do his job that the citizens elected him for. I want to be able to answer all the tax payers and give them better service for their money. I would also like to be able to put a fire station in the north end of the county.

2. What experiences qualify you for this office?

I have been working a public job for 35 years and know what it means to live from paycheck to paycheck. On top of my current job, for the past two years I have also held the position of County Commissioner. I have lived in the Town of Unicoi my whole life, and I would like to help make some positive changes within the town for the people.

3. What are the three most important issues facing your town?

As I stated before, I would like to not only bring more businesses to Unicoi but provide jobs to the people of Unicoi as well. I would also like a better working relationship with our sheriff’s department which is essential for the safety of the people of Unicoi. Again, as I stated before, I would like to improve Unicoi’s road conditions which are in terrible shape.

4. How will your presence on the board help to overcome those issues?

I plan to use a common sense approach towards these issues in hopes of helping our town grow. I plan to work with other board members to help achieve the common goal for the good of the Town of Unicoi.

5. Please explain your level of commitment to Tennessee’s open records and Sunshine laws. Do you think they are worthwhile?

I am highly committed to the open records and Sunshine laws in the state of Tennessee. They are both worthwhile because the people who voted the candidates in deserve the right to hear what we are discussing and governing them by.